This afternoon’s headlines at a glance
By Caroline Schelle
Thanks for reading our live coverage this morning.
If you’re just joining us, here’s what you need to know:
- Highly skilled workers will be fast-tracked into Australia, as part of a raft of changes to the country’s migration system.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will discuss housing at the national cabinet meeting tomorrow, but wouldn’t go into further detail about possible rent relief measures.
- Speaking of homes, the steepest house price falls on record are now showing signs of recovery, according to the latest Domain House Price Report.
- Japan’s departing ambassador to Australia warned time is running out for the country to deter China launching an invasion of Taiwan.
- An Australian man is still missing after he went overboard on a cruise to Hawaii.
- The RBA faces a knife-edge decision on interest rates, after inflation figures eased.
I will return next week, but my colleague Christopher Harris will keep you updated this afternoon.
Temporary skilled migration income threshold to go up: O’Neil
By Caroline Schelle
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil announced the temporary skilled migration income threshold will go up for the first time in a decade.
The minister announced the move during her National Press Club address in Canberra today.
The threshold for temporary skilled migrants had been frozen at $53,900 a year since 2013, but would increase to $70,000, O’Neil said.
“It [is] essential to ensuring this program is what it says it is, a skilled worker program, not a guest worker program,” she said.
After her address she addressed a question about the number of migrants that would come to Australia.
“For me, quantity is not the really important question here,” she said.
The minister said during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the migration rate for Australia was zero.
“Coming out of COVID, we are playing catch-up and have serious labour shortages, and it is probably inevitable will run a slightly larger migration program over time,” O’Neil told reporters.
“My desire is to see that program tightened and potentially smaller into the medium term and most of the proposals I have talked about today will assist us in doing that.”
Shortage in tech, engineering and construction workers: O’Neil
By Caroline Schelle
Turning back to news about the planned migration overhaul, with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil speaking in Canberra.
My colleague Angus Thompson reported the outdated points test for migrants will be overhauled and highly skilled professionals will be given the red-carpet treatment to work in Australia.
The home affairs minister was questioned after her address to the National Press Club about what skills would be prioritised under the revamped system.
“It should not be for the minister to decide what skills shortages there are in the country,” O’Neil told reporters.
She said the migration system needed to be simplified, and the government wanted to have a broader description of skills needed in the country.
“Some of them, off the top of my head, which, I think, would be well known … we have a significant issue getting tech sector skills into the country, dramatic shortages in engineers, dramatic shortages of people in construction,” O’Neil said.
She said the government wanted to see a data-driven approach to define the skills, and take it out of the realm of politics.
Moccona’s $22b maker sues Australia’s Vittoria over glass jar
By Jessica Yun
The $22.4 billion American-Dutch coffee giant behind Moccona has picked a fight with Australia’s largest independent coffee company, Vittoria, over the latter’s sale of instant coffee in a glass jar that the multinational claims rips off Moccona’s “iconic” trademarked shape.
Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), which also manufactures L’Or Espresso, Pickwicks tea, Piazza D’Oro and more, launched Federal Court proceedings against Vittoria in February claiming it is engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct by selling coffee in a glass jar and that customers who see the Vittoria glass jar might mistake it for a Moccona product.
“Consumers use the glass jar as a ‘shortcut’ visual cue to identify the premium product contained within it, so they can be confident that the product they are buying is a premium, high-quality Moccona product,” stated JDE head of category development and shopper insights Ross Tillman in court documents.
Japanese giant lobs $1.9b takeover bid for Blackmores
By Emma Koehn
Blackmores’ major shareholder Marcus Blackmore will back a $1.9 billion takeover bid from Kirin Corporation, one of Japan’s largest brewers and the owner of the Lion drinks business.
The vitamins maker told the ASX on Thursday morning that its board was backing the offer from Kirin, which, if successful, would result in the drinks giant acquiring all of Blackmores’ stock at $95 per share.
Blackmores shares rocketed by 20.6 per cent at the market open to $92.60.
The offer values Blackmores at $1.9 billion, with the $95 per-share price tag representing a 23.7 per cent premium to the company’s Wednesday closing price of $76.79.
Skilled workers to be fast-tracked in migration overhaul
By Angus Thompson
The outdated points test for migrants will be overhauled and highly skilled professionals will be given the red-carpet treatment to work in Australia under far-reaching and urgent changes to the migration system.
The retention of international students will also become a key focus of the federal government’s revised migration settings in a global race for talent as the nation tries to plug critical labour shortages across the economy and address the challenges of an ageing population.
At the heart of the reforms will be a three-tiered system that provides a smooth entrance for highly paid and skilled workers, boosts the income threshold for temporary migrants, and brings unions, businesses and the government together to work out how to feed low-paid sectors such as aged-care, which cannot be filled through local recruitment.
Steepest house price falls on record showing signs of recovery
By Elizabeth Redman
In the property market, there’s been a change of gears after the steepest house price falls on record are now showing signs of recovery.
Sydney house prices rose 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year to a median price of $1,459,856, the latest Domain House Price Report, released today shows.
Melbourne house prices also stabilised, falling just 0.5 per cent to a median of $1,023,116 in the March quarter.
Brisbane barely fell, while Perth increased.
Home buyers have been competing for the few homes for sale, hoping the string of interest rate rises is close to its peak.
Economists have been updating their earlier forecasts of 15 to 20 per cent price falls and now expect shallower peak to trough declines in the largest cities.
But they warn there could be more falls ahead and a range of risks remain.
Read more about the outlook for property in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
PM reminisces about Wagon Wheel record
In a light-hearted moment Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reminisced about living near the Wagon Wheel factory while opening a distribution centre in Queensland today.
He was at the new facility in Brisbane’s south-west this morning when he spoke about living near the factory that made the biscuit.
“I grew up in Camperdown in Sydney, and on the corner was the Westons factory [that] used to produce Wagon Wheels,” he said.
The prime minister said the smell “was permanently in my nostrils for my entire life” and he would wait outside the factory as a child.
“As kids we would go down to the workforce – now, [I’m] not suggesting that the workers here should do this for local kids – but we would just stand outside, and we’d always get broken Wagon Wheels and biscuits,” he told workers at the facility.
“So, I think I am the holder of the world record for the number of wagon wheels eaten in an hour, which is about 35.”
Housing issues to be discussed at national cabinet: PM
By Caroline Schelle
The prime minister flagged national cabinet will discuss housing and healthcare when it meets tomorrow.
Anthony Albanese was speaking in Brisbane where he was asked about housing issues and said it was on the agenda for national cabinet.
“Health care will be on the agenda, as will housing issues and other issues in which we need that co-operation between states, greater consistency, but also that co-operation between the federal government and the state governments,” Albanese said.
He was “very confident” the meeting would be a positive one ahead of the budget, which will be delivered on May 9.
“We’ll have some announcements after tomorrow … I look forward to detailing further initiatives that will arise out of tomorrow’s meeting,” the prime minister said.
PM says migration system needs to be less reliant on temporary labour
By Caroline Schelle
Turning to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who is Brisbane’s south-west today.
He told reporters Australia needed to be less reliant on temporary labour after a report found the system was slow and outdated.
“What we need to do [is] to be less reliant upon temporary labour and to give people that permanent pathway to being secure; to making a contribution here in Australia,” Albanese said.
“The truth is the migration system that we inherited is broken. There are over one million people waiting for visas in this country,” he said.
He said the government needed to identify the skills needed in the country, identify regions where additional workers were needed and tailor the migration program to benefit people coming to Australia.
The prime minister said the change for New Zealanders would help give migrants more security, and would allow them to contribute more.
“Common sense tells you that if someone is working … has been here for 11 years … but hasn’t been able to become a citizen, then smoothing that pathway so that it’s equivalent to what Australians receive in New Zealand, is a sensible change,” he said.
Albanese announced Kiwis who lived in Australia for four years would be able to apply directly for citizenship without securing permanent residency first.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil is set to outline the government’s plans for changes to the migration system at her National Press Club address today.
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