‘Liberals’ planning to adopt anti-migration position?

It is disappointing, but sadly not surprising, to see this report in the Canberra Times suggesting the Coalition is planning to adopt a more explicitly anti-migrant position. Despite all the evidence about the demographic inevitability of a shrinking labour force, growing international mobility (including record emigration from Australia) and the latest research showing the significant net economic benefit migrants create for Australia, the political temptation for the ‘Liberals’ is obviously too great to resist.

It is very unedifying to see Brendan Nelson – the alternative Prime Minister – willingly reinforcing the tawdry and discredited myth that migrants supposedly take Aussies’ jobs. The skilled migration intake – both permanent and temporary – has boomed over recent years because of the skills and labour market shortage. It is driven by demand, not by governments doing some social engineering. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the extra hurdles and red tape, the intake would be greater still because the demand for labour is certainly there. The same applies to the planned trial for seasonal workers from Pacific Island nations – the labour shortage is unquestionably there and has been there for quite some time. Working on enabling and ensuring more Australians can fill some of these vacant positions is always going to be important, but the reality is the positions are not being filled at present and migrants won’t come here (and employers wouldn’t bother to pay the extra costs of obtaining them), if the labour was reliably available here.

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6 Comments

  1. Did you see “Insiders” thid morning where a clip form Alexander Downer from a couple of years ago – when he waas F A minister – explicity spells out that the issue when the Libs were in power was ‘non-white” people being imported. geez.

  2. I think fewer Australians would emigrate elsewhere if our industries weren’t being sold out all the time.

  3. You are right to correct me. As I have mentioned before, the Labormovement has nothing much to skite about when it comes to embracing their dusky-skinned brethren from other lands. There are notable exceptions, of course.

  4. It seems both sad and hypocritical that the Liberals both increased migration yet love to pretend that they don’t like it. I can’t see how they can possibly have it both ways.

  5. This article by Annabel Crabb contains the quotes used on The Insiders.

    Specifically, Alexander Downer saying the Coalition government had had concerns about “the image of bringing in, sort of, labour which is, essentially, of course, to be frank about it, non-white labour, to do jobs that people in Australia simply didn’t want to do“.

    The then national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (and now ALP government frontbencher) Bill Shorten, saying the Pacific Island labour plans would be “the return of the Kanak culture”. “Any agreement with the Pacific Islands would create a precedent for a future influx of still cheaper labour beyond the Pacific Islands. This is a race to the bottom.

    And a representative of the ACTU, giving evidence to a Senate Committee inquiry in 2006, into a Pacific seasonal worker scheme, ssaid “Systems such as those are, in our view, akin to slavery and are not supportable under any circumstances.

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