On 30 Mar 2021 the Hon Karen Andrews MP was appointed as new Minister for Home Affairs. This follows the previous Minister for Home Affairs the Hon Peter Dutton MP, being appointed as Minister for Defence the same day.
The Hon Alex Hawke MP continues in his role Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs.
Who is Karen Andrews?
The Hon Karen Andrews MP is a member of the Liberal Party of Australia and has been the elected federal member for the McPherson electorate in Queensland for the last 11 years. She is a qualified in mechanical engineer, with a degree from the Queensland University of Technology.
Andrews comes to Home Affairs from the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology. In this portfolio, she was highly involved in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund, and the Australian Space Agency. While quite a different portfolio in terms of migration, this background could assist with the current governmental focus on hi-tech and STEM professionals through the Global Talent Independent and Global Business & Talent Attraction Taskforce.
Australian Space Agency
As the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Andrews was involved (along with the Ministry more broadly) in the process of selecting Adelaide as the base for the Australian Space Agency. Andrews said Adelaide put forward the “the strongest case” for hosting the Agency.
Andrews has shown a strong interest in developing the Australian space industry, and has highlighted it as being of critical importance, saying “it improves life on earth and creates opportunities in a range of areas including manufacturing”.
What questions will Andrews face as Minister for Home Affairs?
Recent times have presented many challenges for the Home Affairs portfolio with a need to develop policy very quickly to protect Australia from the COVID-19 pandemic while at the same time, supporting the economy.
As Minister for Home Affairs, a key responsibility for Andrews in the near future will be balancing the return of Australians with the need of Australian businesses and the economy more broadly for skilled and other migrants.
Work Visa Lawyers anticipates that following the general skilled migration program resulting from the pandemic, Andrews will be facing questions about if, when, and how the general skilled migration program might again resume.
In addition, agricultural industry in Australia has been struggling to locate sufficient labour during peak seasons, given the reduced flow of backpackers and Pacific workers into the country. Andrews will be under pressure to develop migration solutions to ease the pressures for Australian farmers, for example granting amnesty to undocumented farm workers, an application the Department previously rejected.
How will this impact Australian migration law and policy?
It is promising to see Andrews’ interest in Science and Industry and with South Australia as the location of the Australian Space Agency, we are hopeful that the connection will continue to see South Australia as a growing focus for highly skilled migration and hi-tech industry development. It is more difficult however to guess what Andrews’ position will be on other matters. As Prof Mark Kenny of Australian National University says, “while human rights groups will be looking for signs Andrews intends to soften the Dutton approach, she has refused to comment before extensive briefings.”
We welcome the new Minister to the portfolio of Home Affairs and look forward to the developments Andrews might advance in STEM and hi-tech areas of migration.
Although the appointed Minister is of importance to those with ongoing Ministerial Intervention claims, ultimately broader Governmental policy is likely to have a more significant impact on the development of migration law and policy than the individual Minister responsible.
Here at Work Visa Lawyers, we continue to advise clients on the law as it stands. While it is important to consider how the law will change in order to plan your life, the starting point for this is always a detailed analysis of the law as it currently is. For personalised advice on your individual circumstances, make an appointment today with one of our Registered Migration Agents or immigration lawyers.