MAC report on Point Based Systems and salary thresholds

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The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned in June 2019 to report and make recommend around the possible role of a Points Based System (PSB) for skilled workers and for the appropriate salary threshold associated with this (two commissions subsequently delivered as one report).

Their report was published on 29 January 2020.  It is a very thorough and detailed piece of work at around 272 pages.  The executive summary can be found from pages 5 to 11 and the summary of individual recommendation at page 260 to 271.

The main concerns raised by representatives of the tourism industry have been around maintaining access to a supply of workers for what may potentially be categorised as lower skilled, lower salaried front and back of house employment (my definition not the industry’s), a general concern shared by a number of other industry sectors.  This concern, and tourism specifically, is not directly referenced to any great degree within the main body of the report but there are a numerous reference to the impact of maintaining a supply of lower skilled, lower paid migrant workers, that combined tends to suggest that MAC are not that supportive of the principle and certainly not within a PBS. There key, specific comment on the subject in the executive summary is:

“Some of the largest expected impacts are in sectors that primarily employ lower-skilled workers that would not be eligible under the proposed restriction to medium-skilled and higher-skilled workers in TIER 2 (General).  If the Government is concerned about these impacts, it could address this through another route; for example, something like the temporary worker route which was proposed in the Immigration White Paper, or via a sector-based scheme which were mentioned during the election campaign.  Doing this will be of benefit to these sectors, but at a cost of reducing the likely overall benefits of moving to the new system.”

and in the main-body:

“7.76, There are currently two occupations which are in the lowers kills ONS category (1 out of 4) but which are listed as RQF3/lower-skilled in the current codes of practice.  ‘These are Fishing and other elementary agricultural occupations n.e.c.’ and ‘Waiters and waitresses’, we recommend that these are not made eligible for Tier 2 (General).  The large majority of workers in these occupations are in low-wage positions that require little training.”

The other references dotted throughout the report are not explicitly directed toward any particular sector but simply refer to general principles that would it seem to me to logically apply to a significant proportion of the entry level tourism workforce.

Clearly the publication of the report is significant for those tourism sectors and individual tourism businesses that have become more reliant on migrant works.  Importantly, between commissioning and publication we have had an election, a change of administration and potentially a change in emphasis regarding what our future migration policy may or may not look like?

It is now very much in the lap of Government to design and implement a new system, taking into account as much or as little of MAC report’s recommendations as they see fit.  Given the pre and post-election comments from senior figures it is now almost unthinkable that this will not now be based around “an Australian type points-based system”. The exact style and the degree to which it influenced by the MAC recommendations on a PBS remains to be seen.

Given the MAC recommendations, the tourism industry may be well advised now to focus on developing proposals for the other routes mentioned in the quote above, like the “temporary workers route”.  My understanding is that some of the relevant trade bodies may already have this in hand and it is, or will be more widely discussed via the Tourism Alliance.

See the full report at:



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