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Labor's 'peas and thimbles' immigration policy.

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Media Release


The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs




The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today said the immigration policy bein g touted by the ALP Shadow Minister, Mr Con Sciacca, contains significant flaws and fundamental misconceptions.


Mr Ruddock said the major policy failing lies in the argument that Labor could significantly increase the skilled component of overseas migration.


“Key elements of Australia’s immigration program are already demand-driven, including business migration and the employer nomination scheme.


“Furthermore, we are currently accepting all applicants who satisfy the points test for skilled entry.


“If Labor wants to increase the absolute number of skilled migrants entering Australia it has a responsibility to inform us exactly how they plan to do this. The facts are there is not a bottomless pit of such people.


“Mr Sciacca asserts Labor will strive for an intake of 123,000 while maintaining the current proportion of skilled migrants at 50%. For this to be achieved an additional 26,500 skilled individuals would be required.


“This could only be achieved by significantly diluting entry standards. Australia would be forced to accept older and less skilled people.


“This would substantially reduce the economic benefits achieved through a properly targeted skilled program and also degrade any alleged impact on the age of the population.


“Mr Sciacca’s assertion that the ageing of the population could be affected by bringing in more migrants has been comprehensively debunked by demographers around Australia.


“If net overseas migration were doubled it would only reduce the proportion of aged people in the Australian population by 2.4 per cent.


“Additionally, any increase in the family stream, which Mr Sciacca confirms would be a by-product of an expanded program, would have substantial cost implications for the Australian taxpayer”.


Mr Ruddock said the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is now distancing himself from Mr Sciacca’s comments demonstrated ‘enormous dynamics and divisions’ within the ALP on immigration issues.


“The ALP hold themselves out to be an alternative Government, however they continually fail to quantify what form Australia’s immigration program would take under their stewardship.


“What size would it be? What would its composition be? These are simple questions that deserve an answer.


“Perhaps the ALP could discuss these issues at more depth, formulate a consistent position, and inform the Australian community exactly what they are proposing”.


ENDS Friday, 19 February 1999


Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715.