Moreover, the rapidly changing global situation and Australia´s demography ensure that international migration will remain crucial over the next quarter century.
There have been a number of elements in the success of Australia's post-war immigration program. The doyen of immigration research in Australia, Professor Charles Price, attributed it to the fact that Australian post-war immigration was similar to a python feeding – new groups of migrants were introduced and then allowed to digest and adjust before a new group was introduced. Hence, although there are present in Australia strong opponents of migration and multiculturalism, as there are in many other receiving countries, there is a majority view acknowledging that migration is good for the country. Another element in the relative success of migration in post-war Australia is related to policy development and governance. For most of the post-war period Australia has had a separate ministry of immigration and encouraged the development of a cadre of professional immigration civil servants, which fostered the development of a substantial capacity in policy making and administration in migration and settlement. Australian immigration policy has been flexible and, with some notable, relatively recent exceptions, strongly evidence-driven, drawing on an excellent migration data collection system and a vibrant body of immigration research.
Australia faces a range of immigration challenges over the next decade. In 2010 it appointed a Minister of Population for the first time with the mandate to produce a national population policy within the next year. Asylum-seekers dominate the national migration debate, yet the numbers are small – 0.5 percent of the global total in 2008-9. Debates about onshore or offshore processing of asylum seekers continue together with internment and whether or not asylum-seekers should be granted the same rights as offshore humanitarian settlers. The role of migration in population growth is a significant contemporary issue with debate between those arguing for a "big Australia" and continued rapid immigration growth and environmentalists warning of the substantial environmental constraints on population growth. Recent government policy changes have made it more difficult for students to obtain permanent residence, and the number of occupational groups who gain extra points in the Points Assessment Test has been drastically reduced. The global financial crisis saw a temporary reduction in skilled migration to Australia, but by 2010 it has returned to record high levels. In 2009-10 Australia had a record net migration gain, and significant skill shortages in particular sectors and regions means that high levels of migration, both permanent and temporary, will definitely continue in the short and medium term. In the longer term, the importance of ageing, while less drastic than in European countries and Japan, will also mean that international migration will continue to be a major influence on Australia's demography, society and economy.