The Labor administration has signalled it intends to make reacting to delays in immigration processing a priority.
Australia’s migration programme is still suffering from the COVID-19 epidemic, with the new Albanese government conceding “there’s plenty to be done” in its restoration.
The push is a recognition of the great strain on the Department of Home Affairs, which is reacting to backlogs of visa applications, with resultant increased waiting periods for applicants.
However the agency is also grappling with requests from companies wanting to fill skills shortages, frantic appeals from migrants from Afghanistan seeking safety, and an impending budget reduction to the department, the work ahead looms tremendous.
Former deputy secretary of the immigration department Abul Rizvi’s assessment of the struggle ahead is harsh.
“We have a scenario where the Home Affairs department and the visa system is in pure gridlock,” he told a News Channel.
“There is a lot to fix and it will take some time.”
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles told a News Network: “In terms of the unprecedented delays we’ve seen in visa processing, this is a significant priority for me and an Albanese Labor administration.
“Whether it is to humanitarian, family reunion, or skilled visas, we need to do far better.”
He’s requested guidance on resolving the issues faced by the department as a “matter of urgency”.
The department is expecting a $875 million budget reduction, based on the Morrison government’s March report.
It’s something the Albanese administration must now choose how to solve when it delivers its first budget in October.
The Department of Home Affairs insists it’s still struggling with the “significant effect” on the processing of visas as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The epidemic era needed numerous personnel to concentrate on exemption evaluations for the international border closure as well as grants for inbound and outbound travel.
“The department will cooperate with the government to guarantee the most expedient processing of outstanding visas,” a spokeswoman said.
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