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Unemployment tragedy for migrants

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12 February 1993


Philip Ruddock MP 1

Federal Member for Dundas Electorate Parliament House

Shadow Minister for Immigration Tel: (02) 858 1011 Tel: (06) 277 4343

t i3Ethnic Affairs Fax: (02) 804 6739 Fax: (06) 277 2062


Over One million unemployed Australians is not a record the ALP should be proud of.

The enormous suffering, hardship and poverty which has resulted from this tragedy, has hit newly arrived migrants to Australia the hardest.

The unemployment rate amongst migrants who have arrived since 1991 is now 36.4% and amongst some groups it is as high as 77.5%

This must present as the strongest argument for reducing the immigration intake until the economy recovers.

It is simply unfair on migrants to invite them to come here at a time when there are no opportunities for employment. The depth and endurance of this "recession we had to have" requires the government to further reduce the program.

The ALP has presided over an immigration program which has facilitated the entry of too many low-skilled, non-English speaking people who cannot compete in an economy where traditional employment opportunities are no longer available.

The Government has maintained the program at record high levels when compared to previous recessions of much lesser magnitude. At a time when the more qualified and skilled entrants are no longer interested in coming to Australia, the Government has had to reduce qualifying criteria to meet set numerical targets.

This included the abandonment of the occupational shares scheme where emphasis was placed upon recruiting for skills in areas where there were shortages and where employment opportunities existed; the provision of welfare support on arrival; the elimination of the requirement for English language skills in the concessional family category and the elimination of the requirement for applicants to present with employment experience.

The Coalition, on the other hand, has made it clear that we will not compromise migrant entry criteria just to meet fixed numerical targets. The Coalition's proposed reforms to the immigration program will result in a significantly reduced immigration program in the short term.

Our policy will produce a sustainable outcome, determined by the non-discriminatory application of qualifying criteria designed to meet the national interest.

Such a program will regain the support of the wider community and ensure that migrants who do arrive here will not have to languish on unemployment lines.