Boost migration & encourage foreign investment

Urban Taskforce Chief Executive Tom Forrest has welcomed the calls from Meriton Founder and Managing Director Harry Triguboff, urging Australia to reopen its borders soon and look at further incentives for residential development.

Mr Triguboff has called for a re-opening of Australia’s borders in the context of a much-needed boost to population and the flow-on benefits that arise from investment in property, construction and associated broader employment opportunities.

“While Australian Governments’ initial response to and management of the COVID 19 pandemic and economic downturn are acknowledged, the time has come to get the economy moving’”, Mr Forrest said.

“Our economic future, and that of hundreds of thousands of workers in the property and construction sector, depend on population growth. The current immigration target of 160,000 will not drive Australia out of a COVID-19 recession. Worse – the actual intake is expected to drop to only 35,000 migrants this financial year. Population growth drives economic growth. We need both.

“Former Prime Minister John Howard oversaw the largest immigration intake in Australia’s history. Net immigration rose from a low in 1992 of 30,000 to a high in 2007 at 300,000. John Howard knew the importance of immigration to economic growth.

Urban Taskforce Australia has been joined by the Property Council of Australia in calls for an urgent increase in migration intake.

“Without significant immigration numbers, the ageing of our population (the baby-boomer phenomenon) will leave us with a lower and lower taxpayer base trying to support a bigger and bigger tax bill.

“The first priority must be to get all the stranded Australian ex-patriots back to Australia. Then the Australian economy needs to actively support investor immigration, skilled immigration, and the return of foreign students”, Mr Forrest said.

The Urban Taskforce joined Mr Triguboff’s in his call for targeted Government support of the residential development industry given the rise in popularity of working from home and subsequent impacts on commercial buildings and infrastructure construction. The undersupply of housing in NSW remains a problem for any return to growth.

Mr Forrest said that the Commonwealth Government needs to return the FIRB threshold to where it was pre COVID-19. State government State Stamp Duties and Land taxes should not discriminate against foreign investors (including foreign superannuation funds and pension funds). Withholding taxes need to be reduced – at least for the COVID-19 recovery period.

“Foreign investment together with the return of international students and skilled migrants has the capacity to bring in billions of dollars to local projects and supports Australian jobs”, Mr Forrest said.

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