Australia's Immigration Revolution

Australia's Immigration Revolution

Australia's Immigration Revolution

Australia's Immigration Revolution

Synopsis

How well is Australia handling immigration at a time of increased international and ethnic tensions? Immigration and Australia's Future examines the social impact of the huge increase in Australia's immigration program over the past decade. Rates of immigration to Australia nearly doubled under Howard and have increased to record levels under Rudd. These new immigrants join the 6.5 million who have arrived in Australia since 1945 from the UK, Europe, and Asia. How well are newer immigrants faring? Are they able to readily obtain education and jobs? Are immigrants from some backgrounds doing better than others? Drawing on major surveys of social cohesion, as well as demographic and other data, Andrew Markus examines how well newer immigrants are being accepted by the wider Australian community. He shows that despite Australia's controversial asylum policies and certain incidents, actually Australia's immigration program is relatively successful by international standards.

Excerpt

In May 2008, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans gave a rare personal interview to the Australian’s Editor-at-Large Paul Kelly. Evans used the interview to signal major changes in the country’s immigration policy.

The context of the interview was the Rudd government’s first Budget, which provided for an increase in the immigration intake. the total intake for 2008–09 was planned to reach 190 300, an increase of 38 000 and the biggest single-year jump in decades. Within the three streams of the program, the Family component was to increase by 6500, the Humanitarian component by 500 and the Skill component by a massive 31 000, or 30 per cent. Whereas in past years the Family stream had been the largest, Skill now dominated to comprise a record 70 per cent of the intake. At a time of major economic growth, Minister Evans indicated that immigration had delivered some 40 per cent of the increase in labour supply and that recent data showed it was contributing an unprecedented 50 per cent. Immigration was of major importance not only in meeting labour demand but also in helping to contain wage pressures.

The significance of the interview, however, lay less in the detail about the 2008–09 program and more in the minister’s expectations for the future. Evans observed that the planned increase was just a start.

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