Some Immigration facts

Amongst all the heat regarding asylum seeker issues, it is often forgotten just how many people some to Australia every year on various visas. The Annual Report of the Immigration Department contains some interesting facts on this matter.

If you look at all of those figures, the number of people who received residency visas – permanent and temporary – in the 2004-05 financial year was close to half a million. Permanent economic entry visas were 77 880 (increased to nearly 100 000 in the subsequent year). In the family stream it was 41 740. Other temporary resident visas (mainly skilled workers) were 93 513, plus 174 787 student visas and 104 605 working holiday visas.

Compared to this figure of nearly 500 000, in the offshore humanitarian category there were just 13 178 people — only around 5½ thousand were actually refugees; the other 7½ thousand were broader humanitarian cases. Even lower still is the number of onshore refugee visas granted – the vast majority of whom had already been here for years on temporary visas – which was 4 601.

To give the full picture, in addition to all those I have mentioned above, the total number of other visitor visas – tourists, short-stay, business, family visitation, hospital and medical – was 3 588 947.

So we have got over four million people coming into Australia each year (some of them people entering more than once). Most of them are short-stay visitor visas, but around half a million of them are various forms of longer stay or permanent residency. It is absurd that we have this enormous focus and moral panic about a tiny number of asylum seekers who come in an unauthorised way, especially when these people immediately declare themselves and seek to be identified and assessed.

This not only creates unreasonable hostility towards asylum seekers, it seriously distorts our public and policy debate about immigration issues. When we have half a million people coming into our country each year on various forms of residency visas from every country on Earth, we should be giving much more attention to our settlement programs, as well as putting more energy into supporting multiculturalism, so it delivers the effective integration which is at its heart.

We should not be diverting attention by creating false impressions of waves of people ‘threatening our borders’. We already have waves of people coming in each year, and we don’t pay enough attention to ensuring we manage that situation properly.

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112 Comments

  1. Paul, I would advise against holding your breath – bated or otherwise – waiting for an answer to any particular question. You’ll run a serious risk of asphyxiation. I don’t answer every question posed in every comment, and when I am going to answer, I don’t spend my whole life in front the computer in order to do so straight away, so it can be a long wait.

    I’ve provided my views on most aspects of immigration policy and issues many times – some people might even suggest ad nauseum. Have a read of all my posts and comments at this link – once you’ve done that, if you still think I’m avoiding stating a view on any question or aspect on this issue, then you’re an extremely hard man to please.

  2. In response to #96, I agree there is more that industry can do in regard to training, although I wouldn’t suggest they are doing nothing. Some industry bodies are targeting school leavers, doing sales pitches, etc.

    In some areas and industries, it is so hard to get people they are importing untrained people and then training them here.

    I don’t fully understand why this happens, although the upfront costs of higher education and training is certainly preventing some Australians from accessing it.

    It is also a bit perplexing, as I know there are people who find it hard to get employment in many areas.

    However, employers and industry are not evil nasty people who are just refusing to employ Australians because of some nefarious tendency towards reverse racism. It is always cheaper for an employer to grab someone who is already trained, but it is cheaper for them to grab a trained Australian than import someone (apart from the small percentage who will try to seriously exploit and underpay the overseas worker, which is a real issue but nowhere near big enough to explain why we are needing to import skilled people).

    All I can say is its not neat and simple, and matching people with skills and secure jobs in a constantly evolving and changing employment market is not a straighforward thing.

    Remember, we have haad skilled migration visas for many years. The main difference now is that the numbers are much higher – I don’t have a problem with that if the demand is there, as it generates further jobs and prosperity for Australia. However, I do believe the increase has been too much too quickly – very quick leaps in intake can have distorting effects and increases the chances of bad administration of the migration program and of people falling through the cracks.

  3. David: re #96. A bit off topic so I’ll be brief. Some large corporations (eg BHP, KPMG) and govt depts (ATO, Bureau of Statistics) actively promote job opportunities at career fairs at Unis (I don’t know what happens at high school level). Some also offer scholarships for higher-degree students, mostly in the form of small ($2000-5000 pa) supplementary bursaries. This tends to be restricted to a few disciplines, mainly economics, law and engineering.

    The other contribution from industry at tertiary level comes through SPIRT grants and Co-operative Research Centres. I have many reservations about these – in short they constrain Australia’s research effort, take money from govt and unis to heavily subsidize research for industry, and too often the higher-degree student ends up with a very second-rate educational experience.

  4. Andrew, perhaps a slight crossing of wires. Am well enough aware that you would know that immigration is a complex things, particularly in a society undergoing a metamorphosis, the final appearance, substance and destination the like of which no one seems comfortably able to predict. Currently different paradigms not so apparent in more settled times compete to define what “immigration” should do and be.
    Deb’s story of abuse of surveillance in another thread demostrates just how easily benevolent aproaches can be subverted to darker tendencies.
    The problem with immigration for me, is that it has been appropriated as a battle ground for two now-antagonistic meta-narratives.
    One proposes immigration as a bonding social process and a building of community. A now increasingly antagonistic paradigm proposes contracts between innovative individuals in a post-lapsarian world, regardless of and even rejoicing at, any impact on a threatening decaying social entity.
    One view is comfortable with society and stability, the other inovative and restless but
    opportunistic and survivalist.
    It’s arguably a post-modern landscape; difficult to “read” for many individuals, for those seeking the retreival of “community”.
    I hope Dave embraces reason. I don’t think he is “racist”, although like everyone else he probably carries unsavoury nascent tendencies, unconsciously revealed at an early stage. He is just perplexed and surprised, as a sojourner in a strangely familiar strange terrain, for the rest of us, too. Hence the feeling that he should rather more embraced than chided, because he is in a real sense, probably as much an “immigrant” as any of us.

  5. If I know of a person who works as a taxi driver in Sydney and keep the cell phones etc found at the backseats and never return them to their rightful owner or pass them along to the police or some kind of lost and found site, is it considered as a criminal act? Will his permanent resident visa be revoked if found out and what will happen to the visa of his wife who had been granted the PR initially and from which he obtained his PR by marriage. The question is, does it regarded as a criminal misconduct and should I report it to the immigration department?

  6. Jane.
    I will answer if you like.

    Yes you should and he should be put on notice.
    if Australia has been been good enough to take him and his family he should begrateful and honest to its people.

    It goes to the very bone of the issue> Character and honesty.

    A warning should be given in writing.
    Thats fair to me.
    Thank you for your question.

  7. Post 103 if you feel the need to report the conduct you allege then the police would be the appropriate agency.

    If the allegations resulted in a police investigation and resulted in criminal charges then the justice system would rightly deal with the matter through the courts.

    As to the question of the revocation of permanent residency visa, that would be a matter dependent on the sentence associated resulting from a conviction and the subsequent reporting to the Immigration Department followed by the discretion of the Immigration Minister.

    This Senate submission
    http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte/migration/submissions/sub102.pdf
    provides some facts in relation to the application of the’criminal deportation’ of non citizens eg those on permanent visas.

    I support a family of Australian citizens dealing with the aftermath of a cancellation of a permanent visa for a family member and the detrimental flow on effects, particularly for children are wide ranging.

  8. Good to see your still around jane.
    theft is certainly a criminal act.
    All taxi services have a lost and found so customers can call to check if they left someting behind. all drivers know this.
    To not hand in items is deliberate theft.

  9. The facts do speak for themselves – it is a pity these are not more accesable –

    The first mistake we made with multi culturalism was giving the phenomenon of differetn peoples living together a name –

    right away the process is set apart as something other than a normal way to live.

    I and I am very reluctant to engage in a debate on this matter in this current climate as peopels perceptions have been distorted by a constant focus on Islamism.

    10 years ago we shook in our boots at the Asianisation of Australia – where has all that anghst gone? –

  10. I thought this was about refugee’s arriving by the hundreds in boats?

    Whilst we are so focussed on the few who do utilise this method of transporting themselves to Australia just to be inhumanely treated and confined in detention centres, however still rough it out in the hopes of being granted the right to live here (which indicates to me the country they came from must have been hell since they don’t volunteer to go back) we forget about the how many??? that slip in through the “Legit” way, a visa, only they don’t leave when the visa expires.

    I wonder how many of them are out there……

    And why are we still using the “boat people” as scapegoats?

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