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Current immigration levels confer net economic loss: Coulter



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M EDIA RELEASE

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THE SENATE

PR 89/443 Canberra October 6, 1989

CURRENT IMMIGRATION LEVELS CONFER NET ECONOMIC LOSS; COULTER

Senator John Coulter, Australian Democrat from South Australia, said today that no satisfactory studies had been done on the economics of Australia's immigration program.

"Unsubstantiated claims have been made by pro-immigration spokespeople of the economic benefits of immigration" said Senator Coulter. "Yet substantial evidence exists that immigration confers a net economic loss on Australia.

"For instance, it has been calculated that $7 to $8 billion was added to Australia's foreign debt in 1987-8 as a result of immigration levels of 149,000. The costs of establishing migrants (houses, infrastructure, health, transport,

education etc) had to be financed by either their own funds or by foreign borrowing since Australia's domestic savings were insufficient.

"This increase in the foreign debt has added to interest rates.

"Immigration also diverts resources to relatively unproductive areas such as housing and urban infrastructure. Much of the investment induced by immigration simply expands the current capital base to accommodate a larger population rather than enhancing the productivity of the economy by developing more capital intensive production methods."

Senator Coulter said he was not 'blaming' the migrants for Australia's indebtedness; he was questioning the economic wisdom of Australia maintaining the highest levels of population growth anywhere in the industrialised world, when

this high rate was damaging Australia's economic viability.

"It is time for in-depth studies of the economic effects of immigration, divorced from questions of race, so that rational public debate can take place" concluded Senator Coulter.

Further information: John Coulter 062-773648 Jenny Macleod 062-773645

COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH