Canberra: The coronavirus pandemic has driven the biggest population decline in Australia’s history with fewer temporary migrants, a Minister has revealed.
Alan Tudge, the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure and Acting Minister for Immigration, on Wednesday evening revealed that more than 300,000 temporary visa holders – including tourists, temporary workers and students – have left Australia in 2020, reports Xinhua news agency.
“We will almost certainly have fewer temporary migrants by year end as few are coming in while many are returning home as their visas expire or their work dries up,” he said.
Analysis by former senior Immigration Department official Abul Rizvi, which was published by News Corp Australia, estimated that a further 300,000 foreign nationals could leave Australia by the end of 2020.
According to Rizvi’s projections, 20 per cent of international students and 25 per cent of temporary foreign workers will leave Australia by the end of 2020.
As a result the number of temporary visa holders in the country would fall from 2.4 million to 1.8 million, ending two decades of high temporary immigration to Australia.
“We could be on the verge of the biggest percentage and absolute decline in our population since 1788, more than during the Great Depression or when we sent troops to the Somme,” Rizvi said.
More than 270,000 temporary migrants were expected to arrive in Australia in 2020 according to projections included in the budget for financial year 2019/20.
More than 800,000 were expected to arrive over the next three years.
Rizvi warned that the downturn will exacerbate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last time we grew out of a big debt, after the war, we had a baby boom and post-war migration surge; neither are likely this time,” he said.