AUSTRALIA is about to see the greatest increase in its migrant population since the post-World War II immigration scheme began. Last week, the Rudd Labor Government announced a lift in permanent and temporary migration for 2008-09 to nearly 300,000, and Immigration Minister Chris Evans has indicated that some of the rules will be eased to ensure those numbers are met.
Among the most important changes will be the easing of the need to have a knowledge of the English language, a shift in emphasis from skilled to unskilled workers and the decision to trial a pilot program based on the successful New Zealand model for guest workers from Pacific nations. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sees this as meeting both foreign policy and economic needs. So far, only senator-elect Doug Cameron, the former national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, has publicly raised any questions about the Rudd Government’s plan, suggesting that an increase in the intake of low-skilled workers to solve labour shortages may strain social cohesion and create a fertile ground for recruitment to racist political groups such as Britain’s National Front, which recently made its first real gains in the UK local government elections. In truth, both Evans and Cameron have caught the Labor Government by surprise because Cabinet is not yet prepared to defend its radically changed policy settings. While most Australians would accept the need to have an increased migration program, they might baulk at Evans’ plan to water down the English language requirements and they might query the Government’s ability to manage a guest worker program given the glaring failure of such policies in other Western nations. Germany has huge problems with its Turkish guest worker population for the simple reason that the Islamic Gastarbeiters will not leave when their visas expire. The French now have vast no-go areas around major cities, including Paris, where even police and military personnel will not go, leaving the largely African immigrants to exist beyond the reach of French law, and the British are not far behind, with areas of cities such as Bradford housing non-English speaking Muslim populations which honour Islamic tradition, not British common law. The Italians are finding it difficult to police the growing number of Gypsy communities, and even South Africa has problems with Zimbabweans who have come to find a better life. While there is no doubt that the skilled migrant program and the 457 visa program (which Labor and its trade union allies used to traduce) have increases Australia’s economic prosperity, it is unlikely that any guest worker program would enjoy the same support should the economy go sour. Unskilled workers, particularly, would be hit when the unskilled jobs they came to fill dried up, and their problems would no doubt be exacerbated because typically, unskilled workers lack English language skills, have a low education and less of an ability to adjust to the cultural differences. Australians should also consider whether they want their nation to be known as a nation that no longer welcomes migrants’ contributions and looks upon migrants, even temporary migrants, as potential long-term residents but just as so much work fodder, to be turfed out when the job is done? Do we want to turn our back on the tradition that saw 70,000 out of the Snowy Mountains Scheme’s 100,000-strong workforce welcomed as skilled migrant workers and long-term settlers? Do we want to encourage the sort of person who is willing to leave his or her family for 50 weeks of the year to work here, and enjoy just one or two weeks of family life in a village in the Philippines or Thailand or Bangladesh? There is also the reality that the guest worker with poor skills and little education is more likely to be exploited by unscrupulous labor contractors or employers, often of their own nationality. The government has not been able to prevent the exploitation of skilled workers, how much harder would it be to police such practices among an unskilled guest worker population? Then there is the issue of where such unskilled labor will come from. New Zealand has opted for Pacific Islanders but it seems that its scheme is operated at a very basic village level, where infringements by workers of their work or visa conditions are dealt with by giving their home villages collective responsibility, and reducing the available places allocated to miscreants’ particular villages when transgressions occur. Politically, it might be good policy for Australia to take guest workers from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Tonga, but not Fiji, but great care would be needed to avoid offending any of our neighbours. How the government intends to fast-track these changes through an immigration system which Evans says is ``creaking at the moment because it is unresponsive to new demands and new realities’’ is not clear. Rudd looks more uneasy than usual when he is questioned on the matter and ducked the issue when challenged on it last Monday, rambling on about skills training. Australia needs leadership on this issue and it needs it fast. In Opposition, the ALP and its supporters relentlessly claimed that the Howard Government was heartless and lacking in all compassion, but it never treated humans as commodities, as the Rudd Labor Government now proposes. Labor’s proposal will change the make-up of the national character by stealth. It needs to be fully explored before the culture is manipulated by Labor to suit its political ends in the guise of building the economy.
While I do not doubt that the ALP will attempt to manipulate the situation to exploit the poorest with no possible reward in the long term to anyone other than the ALP, yet I love immigrants. I have worked with many, from most nations and all continents (one was born in Antarctica). Multiculturalism is a failure, but cultural diversity is to be celebrated for its success. The peoples that command my greatest affection are South East Asian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian. Their children have grown to be decent, hardworking and giving people. Often, there communities have failed to merge with society at large, but have retained elements of their community both new and old. So that Australian trained doctors and nurses live among their brothers and sisters, some of whom are poor or unemployed. Those ghettos so favored by the ALP don’t seem to form with such communities. So that the most disadvantaged suburb in the state, Carramar (disadvantaged in terms of most number of unemployed, single mothers and people on the pension, as well as distance from services such as health, police etc) has children who prosper at school. But the insane ALP idea that has communities in ghettos, like Macquarrie Fields and Bankstown has led to gang situations where decent people fear to stay. I don’t trust Rudd or his plans. I don’t think he will do something worthwhile. But, I love migrants, and think they can make something worthwhile of the poor lot Rudd will offer.
The development of Ghettoism in Sydney (and other cities) is as a result of the Multicultural idealism of successive governments. Since 1972 with the Whitlam government we have embraced wholesale immigration of people from any and all backgrounds (Thanks Al Grasby!) Dave Wane of Darwin has it right. We need to have certain requirement levels for skilled worker migration. Speaking English is certainly foremost of these. Ghettoism develops due to a combination of ethnic, religious and language barriers. My wife is from a Non English Speaking Background (NESB) and found it difficult at first to adapt to the Australian way of life and intergrate into ‘Australian’ society. Imagine what it must be like if you come to Australia and your ethnic origin, religious beliefs and language skills are all different to the those of the prevailing population. The government is forcing people into ghetto communities based on their ethnic, religious and language skills. Multiculturalism is just another word for division or seperation. An intergraged society brings cohesion and a sense of common purpose. A multicultural society breeds division, misunderstanding and fear. The government needs to accept that Multiculturalism has failed outright. How many times have I come across highly skilled workers who migrated to Australia working as Taxi drivers, packing shelves or working in convenience stores. We don’t need to exacerbate the situation by bringing in unskilled labour into Australia. We need a smart government to fix the problem through improvements in the education system, incentives for people to go into the areas that we have shortages. Improvements in English lauguage education for migrants who have already come to live in Australia. Encourage intergration within Australia society not continuation of Government subsidised cultural ghetto’s in the suburbs because of stupid immigration policy. Do we need immigration into Australia? Yes we do. But at what cost under the proposed policy.
The NRA says, 'Guns don't kill people - people kill people.' That may be true, but I think the gun helps. You're not going to kill many people by standing around shouting 'bang!'.
With all due respect, , if you think that there is something wrong with the community of Cabramatta because people haven’t integrated well enough into Australian mainstream culture, your are wrong. The ALP have effectively created a Ghetto in Redfern and in Maquarrie Fields largely based on race in one place and poverty in another, but neither due to immigration. In the coming years, it will be seen that a significant number of specialist doctors and skilled lawyers will have come from Cabramatta because this community has much of which it can be proud, and it is a migrant community that is quite distinct from surrounding and mainstream suburbs. However, lawyers and doctors will be required to serve people of Redfern and Maquarrie Fields because those communities (often white trash aussie)have been held together by ALP social policy. In general, all migrants create a net income for Australia, instead of costing Australia. It is true that some appalling community leaders, as Piers has oft noted, have detracted from their people’s contributions. I don’t buy the mean spirited argument that says aid is bad (Mr Howard showed it could be very effective) or that migration is costly. But migration, like all things needs to be managed effectively, and Rudd does not seem to show the skill that it requires.
How ironic that, in the late 1800s, the Labor Party’s origins occurred out of a movement by Australian workers to stop foreigners coming into the country and undercutting worker’s pay.
Nowadays, that same Labor Party encourages migrants to come in and enjoy the hospitality of the Australian taxpayer purse knowing they will vote Labor out of gratitude. The only ones getting screwed here are Australian workers.
No-one ever shows us the truth on the the percentage of these people who eventually find their way into the work force to contribute something or whether they settle into a trans-generational cycle of lifestyle welfare and crime. Based on the chanting and sloganeering from the immigrant lobby I suspect there are a lot more in the latter category. Peter replied to Oddball Thu 22 May 08 (03:56pm)
Although I agree with most of what you say Dan, I grew up in Cabramatta and went to Canly Vale High School and although you paint a rosy picture of Cabramatta there is a very dark side which is protected by a non assimilating culture. There is something wrong but most of it is good.
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.
Are you saying that there are parts of Australia where housing is available and affordable?
I cannot believe that a grown man would even ask such a foolish and embarrassing question, particularly when he is “One of the nation’s most respected journalists...”.
I have no problem, generally, with increasing immigration levels to 300,000 for the 2008-2009 year. But why reduce the standards?
This country is desperately in need of skilled workers who speak English. The requirements for entry to Australia as an immigrant (permanent or temporary) should include:
*A workable command of the English language;
*A skill which is currently in demand;
*A large amount of business capital and a proven track record in business in the former country;
*A clean slate with no criminal convictions. And no affiliiations with terrorists or criminals of any kind.
There may need to be further provisos, but the above should be seen as essentials.
However the last clause in any immigration contract for an immigrant seeking to stay in Australia (short term or permanently) should be INSTANT deportment to their country of origin if they are ever convicted of a serious criminal offence, such as assault, rape, armed robbery and murder. Even if they serve their time here they should be deported, on release.
Why shouldn’t we aim for the best, and only the best people to become “New Australians”?