Australia immigration key issue in elections

20 August 2010


Immigration is a major issue as Australia goes to the polls. It is still not certain which party will win. The two leaders of the main Political Parties are Julia Gillard the first female Prime Minister and leader of the Labor Party and Tony Abbott of the Liberal Party. If Tony Abbott wins then Julia Gillard would only have in office as Prime Minister for a few months.

Kevin Rudd the former leader of the Labor Party and who previously held the office of Prime Minister was very much pro-immigration. He was a supporter of the Big Australia policy which he hoped would lead to Australia increasing its population from the current 22 million to 35 million by the middle of the century.

Keeping immigration at the current relatively high levels will be of enormous benefit to economy. It is expected that there will be 500,000 new jobs in Western Australia in the next ten years. Without immigration many of these jobs would remain unfilled.

James Pearson, the chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia had the following to say about proposals to reduce Australian immigration levels:

"Australia is a migrant-based society."

"We're one of the few parts of the developed world which really is crying out for new, skilled workers."

"The real danger to Western Australia, and the Australian economy more broadly, is that if we can't fill the jobs that are being created, then some projects will be delayed, some may not even go ahead and all of the knock-on effects that ripple through the economy will therefore be lost."

Both of the main political parties say that they will cut levels of immigration to Australia. There have been concerns that the infrastructure in Australia will not be able to cope with continuing high levels of immigration.

Ms Gillard the first female Prime Minister who has only been in office for two months had the following to say:

"We should pride ourselves on how we have created a multicultural, peaceful vibrant democracy."

However, she does not support the same high levels of immigration as her predecessor Kevin Rudd:

"I don't believe in simply hurtling down a track to a 36 million or 40 million population."

Tony Abbott the Liberal Party leader has been doing better than expected. According to opinion polls the Liberal/Nationals Coalition is in a nine point lead in the primary vote.

Australia is a large land area with a relatively small population. Many would argue that Australia could easily cope with current levels of immigration. Australia did relatively well compared to most other Countries during the recent Worldwide economic downturn. This is largely due to a strong economy helped by high levels of immigration.