Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Migration intake fuels Asylum Seeker conflict

Wednesday 21st December 2011/mt

Migration intake fuels Asylum Seeker conflict

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that, with the exception of Singapore, during the last 5 years Australia ran far and away the biggest per capita migration program in the world – 11.1 migrants per thousand people per year.  After us came Italy, with 6.7, Canada 6.6, Sweden 5.8, Hong Kong 5.1, the United States and the United Kingdom 3.3, and New Zealand 3.1.

I believe the Australian people are instinctively generous and good-hearted, but their tolerance has been stretched to breaking point by the quadrupling of the skilled migration program over the past 15 years, which has generated competition for jobs and housing and put pressure on family living standards.

As a consequence the debate about asylum seekers is very divisive.  It is doing nothing for our sense of national unity and respect for each other.

We should not expect the Australian people to accept an increase in the refugee intake in isolation.  It should be part of a package where skilled migration is cut by 50,000.  There are many good reasons to cut our migration program, and one of them is that it is likely to lift public support for an increased refugee program, which I think it’s something we have to bring to the table when we are working with our regional neighbours on the asylum seeker issue.  Furthermore the Australian people have said over and over that they think our migration level is too high, so cutting our massive migration rate is giving the Australian people what they want. 

In fact we could cut our migration program to 74,000, rather than 174,000, and we’d still be running one of the biggest per capita programs in the world – as big as the  UK, Italy and Sweden, and bigger than the US and New Zealand.