Immigration was a key driver in the creation of one million jobs in Australia over the past five years, a Senate committee has been told.
The Turnbull government loudly trumpeted reaching the jobs milestone last week, describing it as an excellent outcome for Australian workers and families.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott set the benchmark in 2013 before he was deposed two years later, and has recently been an outspoken advocate for slashing Australia’s annual migrant intake.
Home Affairs assistant secretary Jason Russo said Australia’s immigration numbers were a significant driver of the jobs growth.
“Perhaps more than 50 per cent but I can look at the figures and provide that,” Mr Russo told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.
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Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo noted well over 50 per cent of country’s population growth was driven by migration.
“It would be passing strange to think that your population is being driven in part by migration, but your jobs growth isn’t,” Mr Pezzullo told senators.
“It would be illogical to think they were operating in different directions.”
A recent study by Treasury and Home Affairs found migrants accounted for two-thirds of net jobs created over the past five years, with the percentage even more pronounced for full-time employment.
The joint report found migrants were not replacing Australian workers.
“In fact, the study found almost no evidence that outcomes for those born in Australia have been harmed by immigration,” the report said.
“The most statistically significant associations were with stronger labour market outcomes for the Australian-born.”
The departments said this was likely explained by the fact migrants were generally seen as complementary to the Australian-born labour force.
“Some migrants also do not participate in the labour force or have limited work rights (for example, long-term visitors, students and working holiday makers) but still consume goods and services and therefore still add to job creation.”
While employment has increased by more than one million since the coalition came to power in September 2013, the jobless rate is practically the same at 5.6 per cent.