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Immigration policy fails migrants

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Philip Ruddock MP %

Federal Member for Dundas Shadow M inister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

Tel: (02) 858 1011 Fax: (02) 804 6739

Electorate Parliament House

Tel: (06) 277 4343 Fax: (06) 277 2062


Evidence presented in a BIR report released yesterday, "Immigration and Industry Restructuring in the Illawarra", has shown that middle-aged, unskilled, non-English speaking migrants are bearing the brunt of the Labor party's engineered recession.

However, the Coalition has repeatedly tried to draw attention to the policy failures which have led, and will continue to lead to the tragedy o f migrant unemployment.

Speaking at the Migrant Women's Conference in February this year, I said, "As economic restructuring continues in Australia, there is a strong likelihood that non-English speaking, low-skilled migrants will continue to contribute disproportionately to structural unemployment."

While an immigration program which did not focus on relevant skills or English language capacity may have been consistent with the labour market needs o f past decades, it is clear that such a program in the current and developing economic circumstances neither m eets the needs o f the labour market nor is it consistent with the expectations o f those people migrating here.

The Coalition has consistently argued that, in Australia's current circumstances, the balance between the two major categories of family reunion and skilled entry needs to be redressed in favour of the latter.

Policy changes introduced by the Labor government have brought about an increased number of successful applications from less experienced persons, particularly in an environment o f decreasing interest in migration to Australia. The points-tested categories have been facilitating the entry of many people with low skills and little or no English speaking capacity.

Coupled with this increase in low-skilled, non-English speaking migrants, was a real decrease in expenditure on English language programs. There is presently a backlog o f between 60,000-70,000 people waiting for places in English language training programs.

What we need is an expansion o f resources to develop the potential o f migrants already in Australia and working in jobs which are onerous and declining in availability. We do not need an unfettered increase in immigrants who are unskilled, cannot speak English and have no way o f adjusting to the realities of Australia's current economic circumstances.

The experience o f workers in the steel industry in the Illawarra should be sound enough warning for the government to move towards the Coalition's policy.

11 August 1992 Contact Philip Ruddock (02) 858 1011 or Pager (02) 925 3911 # 25589