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Statement: Australia's immigration debate



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P A R L I A M E N T OF A U S T R A L I A P A R L I A M E N T H O U S E

C A N B E R R A A C T . 2 6 0 0

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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PRESS RELEASE

28 February 1985

PHILIP RUDDOCK, M.P. Shadow Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs

I very much agree with the statement by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Hon. Chris Hurford, that Australia's immigration debate should centre on issues such as the economics of immigration, the principles to be allocated to migration categories particularly, such as family reunion,

refugees, skilled workers aid businessmen. These latter questions have been particularly vigorously pursued by the Leader of the Opposition, who has frequently raised the question of a balance within categories as an important aim to be pursued.

The Opposition's policy on Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is predicated on the following fundamental principle: Immigration policy should be applied on a basis which is - > non-discriminatory. Non-discrimination means that policy will be applied consistently to all applicants,

regardless of race, colour, national descent, nation or ethnic region or sex.

The question of the economics of immigration has been the subject of a research project being conducted by Professor Neville Norman on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. The project is due to report this year. From public comment by Professor Norman some indication of the

preliminary results is to hand ; " Overall, immigration continues to exert a generally favourable economic impact in Australia, though the magnitude of net economic benefit is probably much less than in the 1950's, when vigorous

secondary-industry growth, more receptive attitudes and the need to fill a population 'hole' created by low birthrates in the 1930's each enabled immigration to contribute more tangibly to the Australian economy than it does, apparently, today. " .

Traditional trade union mythology that immgration programmes must be cut back at times of high unemployment is a matter that Professor Norman has addressed. It is already clear that, if the Australian economy is improving as the Government asserts, there exists considerable scope for

increasing Australia's immigration programme when entry targets are established later this year. The Opposition supports the view that a significant immigration programme does not contribute to increased unemployment but actually

stimulates the economy and therefore employment opportunities. To the extent that there is a debate, the Opposition will join issue with those who would seek to limit further Australia's immigration programme.

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