No change expected to Australia's record high migrant intake

17 December 2008


Despite the global financial crisis, Australia's Immigration Minister Chris Evans has indicated that he expects only modest cuts in next years migrant intake program which is currently at an all time high, with Australia taking more than 200 000 new immigrants per year.

Whilst Senator Evans admitted that a small reduction to the skilled migrant quota was still "more likely than not", he was very conscious of the damage that could be done to Australia's image as a result of a 'knee jerk reaction.'

The president of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Peter Anderson, agreed that sudden changes in the migrant program could damage the country's migrant-friendly reputation and warned that any cut would impact the productive capacity of the economy at a time when that capacity was most needed.

"What business has been very clear about is that you shouldn't overreact," Senator Evans said.

"There's no doubt in my view that there's a strong link between the economic cycle and people's attitude towards immigration," he said.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said 'We'd be disappointed if there was anything other than a shallow cut,' adding that 'a deep cut would be about politics, not about policy.'

She pointed out that the time taken fo assimilate migrants into the economy was years, not months, meaning impulsive cuts to the quota might not be felt until well after the present crisis had passed.

She said the longer-term outlook for the Australian economy - with an ageing population and a generation of Baby Boomers set to retire - was that migrants would be required en masse.