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Follow Up to Birrell’s Immigration Report

July 20, 2011

In response to Bob Birrell’s report on immigration (see below), I read with interest this letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Migration myths have cost plenty

I wish to congratulate William Bourke for his article exposing the myths behind the need for skilled migration in Australia. (”More bills than skills from this migration”, July 19).

From 1981 to 1996 I worked as a manager in Sydney for the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) and then Centrelink to 2008. In both organisations, on a daily basis, I dealt with migrants, including issues, policies and welfare expenditures arising from these migrants.

One of my many roles as a manager in the CES and in its professional employment service was to provide monthly labour market reports to senior management and to process Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) applications – where employers applied to bring in people to Australia with skills that they said were not available here. I rejected many of the ENS applications on the basis that I thought there were suitable people already in the county – only to discover in many cases that some months later the then Department of Immigration had ignored my refusal of the employer’s application and that the nominee had duly arrived and was now unemployed and on unemployment benefits. Civil engineers and accountants were regular standouts in this class. Once they arrived, Australian employers discovered their overseas-gained skills and qualifications weren’t suitable after all.

Out of sheer frustration I contacted the manager of the ENS section of the Department of Immigration to ask why applications I had refused based on labour market demand and supply had been ignored by Immigration. The response was very Yes Minister; employers had a right to bring these people in, I was told.

I have often wondered over the years what the real cost of immigration has been and will be to Australia. Just how much taxpayer money has been expended through all levels of government as a result of importing people we did not need, ranging from all welfare outlays, education outlays, health system overload, urban sprawl and related environmental destruction, to the legal system outlays of all types?

Stephen King Currumbin (Qld)

  1. Geoff Mosley permalink
    July 20, 2011 10:58 am

    We need to get REAL about the problems of dysfunctional international migration flows and deal with the causes which are twofold: 1) unsustainable situations in their homelands with populations having exceeded carrying capacity; and 2) the dominance of a capitalist system which raids resources wherever they are (backed by military force) combined with a weak international governance system. As a start a strong international system would help each country determine its long term carrying capacity and help it move to a position where its inhabitants live within their means.

  2. gordicans permalink
    July 20, 2011 3:47 pm

    High population growth via high immigration levels is by far the greatest issue facing this country at the moment. Just about every matter of national importance is either caused or affected by high population growth, whether it be habitat and bio diversity loss, record levels of species extinction, inadequate urban infrastructure, C02 emissions, quality of urban life, food security and the inexhaustible list goes on. How sensible will a high population growth strategy be when oil is $3 per litre? But one wouldn’t be aware of the importance of this issue judging by the level of public and media attention given to it. Bob Carr, Dick Smith and Kevin Thompson are like one hand clapping in the wilderness.

    High immigration is an issue where the details are far more straight forward than say the climate change debate. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, natural increase (births minus deaths) during the twelve months ending 30 September 2009 was 34%, whereas net immigration accounted for 66% of total population growth during that period. When nearly 70% of our population growth is from immigration, it is clear that our high population growth is a consequence of government policy rather than from a divine force that can’t be questioned.

    But whenever a politician is challenged on the subject (which is almost never), they give it the meaningless spin treatment and shut down discussion as soon as possible. For example in March 19th last year Tony Kelly, the then NSW Minister for Planning, Infrastructure and Lands was interviewed by Quentin Dempster on the ABC’s Stateline and asked a question about infrastructure and high immigration and he replied:

    “Immigration is not the problem, the majority of the problem is natural increase brought about by child birth, obviously, and the major issue is the fact that we are going to live longer”. That a State Minister was able to peddle this type of deliberate misinformation and go unchallenged is remarkable. The power elites are only able to do so because of public apathy, and it is public apathy that needs to have a large fire lit beneath it.

  3. Karen Joynes permalink
    July 20, 2011 4:20 pm

    For years, I have been asking the Federal Government what the real cost of immigration is, to no avail. It is so blatantly obvious that more people equals more problems, but the Federal Government just won’t face facts – just listens to big business and the building industry.

  4. Ralf Kluin permalink
    July 23, 2011 11:32 am

    Ralf Kluin

    The first time I visited Ellis Island, a short way from the Statue Of Liberty (the lady in the harbour), I was amazed at the thousands of names recorded; names that helped build the United States of America. My uncle is recorded there, becoming a US citizen, he purchased a hotel in Brooklyn in 1904 and went on to greater things. Many of his progeny continue to build families, as is the case with my daughter, married with our two grandchildren, living in Maryland, they keep ‘their dream alive’. It is in this context, that I became worried, as I observed the growing xenophobia amongst some Australians during the Tampa incident wound up by members of the Liberal/National coalition government, with poor response from the ALP opposition. The fact that this xenophobia has been planted, taking root amongst some voters in Western Sydney and elsewhere is partly the reason for the ALP’s loss in its primary vote. In my opinion, The ALP must re-examine all the values upon which it has built its reason for existence, and ALP members who select for public office,should be questioned upon these agreed values. Furthermore, in my opinion, the ALP has since its beginning been closely allied to the concepts of equality of opportunity, in order to keep peoples dreams alive. In my opinion, the ALP must re-examine just two ongoing dilemmas facing Australian governance into the 21st century. The question of maintaining order and the question of maintaining equality of opportunity. Paul Keating, in a recent ABC Lateline interview was correct, when he reminded us that the great nation building issues were conducted by mainly visionary ALP membership. My Uncle was able to keep his dream alive when he settled in the USA at the turn of the 20th Century. People seeking refuge from fear and want can surely keep their dream alive in Australia in this 21st Century.

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