Are You Pro Labour or Liberal?

Today The Liberal Party’s Views On Immigration Into Australia

The 2019 Australia Federal Election is looming. Are you a left or right wing? The Liberal Party (right wing) believes that Australia has a ‘border failure’. Make your way to the Liberal Party’s official website and under the ‘Border Protection’ segment of ‘Our Plan’, it cites that its concerns for border protection are to keep Australia and it’s people safe. That their policies have successfully stopped boats, limiting people smugglers, created an exponential increase in the cancellation of visas of criminals, protected Australian citizens through the cancellation of dual citizens who have engaged in terrorist activity, gotten control of the import of drugs and resettled refugees in countries other than Australia. These are all good things, but these are not major battles that the Liberal Party is fighting. The bigger conversation has instead been on their push to further slash Australia’s immigration intake which we have witnessed through the abolishment of the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and the constantly tightening migration regulations that has made it incredibly difficult for skilled workers to gain permanent residency in Australia.

Immigration has been bubbling away as a political issue for more than 12 months courtesy of a campaign by the former prime minister Tony Abbott to slash the program by 80,000 – a campaign that has been heavily discouraged by colleagues including the treasurer, Scott Morrison.

Read: Labor and Coalition turn immigration into super Saturday byelection issue

Tony Abbott is calling for a cut of 80,000 (from 190,000 a year to 110,000) in Australia migration intake on the justification that it would improve the quality of living for Australians.

“It’s a basic law of economics that increasing the supply of labour depresses wages, and that increasing demand for housing boosts price,” Abbott says.

Read: Tony Abbott to call for immigration cut in speech targeting political elites

Indeed, immigration numbers for 2017/2018 are already under the 190,000 cap at 162,417. Still Abbott has been quoted in saying (that there is) “absolutely no doubt” that “record” numbers of “newcomers” were putting “downward pressure on wages, upward pressure on housing prices and adding to the crush on our roads and public transport”.

“We do need to get the numbers down,” he said.

Read: Tony Abbott repeats call for immigration cut as government plans overhaul

But can we trust Peter Dutton’s views? The Human Rights Watch has reservations. “The hypocrisy of Australia’s professed ‘non-discriminatory’ immigration policy was evident when it was revealed that then-Immigration Minister Peter Dutton intervened to grant tourist visas to foreign nannies on ‘public interest’ grounds in 2015, while his office denied medical transfers to Australia for asylum seekers in offshore detention,” the 674-page report states.

Read: Dutton’s immigation decisions show ‘hyppocrisy’: Human Rights Watch

If we cannot trust our leaders, then perhaps we should be looking to what the people are saying. So what does Australia say? One survey reveals that 64% of the 1,026 voters sampled believes that the level of immigration in Australia over the past decade has been too high.

Is the liberal party having a strong influence in the media and on people’s minds, or is it feeding off the already existent negative sentiment towards foreigners in the Australian community?

Voters also nominated that their greatest concerns where cost of living, improvement of the health system, creating jobs and the reduction of unemployment, and housing affordability. These are undeniable problems that affect the standard of living of the common resident in Australia, and these struggles could, to a degree, certainly be related to how quickly Australia’s population has imploded. But how far is it due to, or for that matter, could it be resolved by restrictive capping of immigration numbers?

Read: Australians growing more concerned over immigration – Guardian Essential poll

Liberal Dean Smith believes that lower immigration would give Australia “time to breathe”, allowing for Australia to develop a population policy that supported proper planning whilst maintaining social cohesion.

Read: Liberal Dean Smith says lower immigration would give Australia ‘time to breathe’

It is easy to agree, theoretically, it is a sound argument and a sound plan. In practice however, things get complicated. For a lower immigration policy to be successful in the long run without hurting Australia’s economy or it’s citizens, we must trust that the decision makers have true intentions and will make policies that are fair in allowing the most skilled and genuine immigrants in whilst actually building a workable plan to build an Australia that would more comfortably support it’s population growth.

What is for sure is how sensitive and difficult a topic such as immigration is, as it hard to project what policies made could result in in the long term. Balance is key, as it tends to be. Finding balance, however, is far easier said then done; even though the Liberal Party seems heavily inclined to having an unsavory opinion on immigration, we have seen different heavyweights in the coalition voice conflicting opinions on the situation. We see the same conflict between states and within individual party members.

Malcolm Turnbull has been reported to both call for lower immigration numbers and has also insisted that the party intends to hold immigration numbers steady.

Read: ‘It is completely untrue’: Turnbull hoses down reports Dutton wants cut to immigration

In December last year, in a meeting with state and territory leaders, Scott Morison of the Liberal Party went in with the agenda of persuading states to lower the immigration rate. It sparked many opposing views as different states and territories faced different difficulties and needs.

“It’s very clear now that we have a very different approach to issues regarding population state by state,” the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall (Liberal Party), said.  “There is no cookie-cutter approach. What we can do now is all work collaboratively towards a good strategy, a positive strategy which is going to ensure that we get population growth exactly where it’s needed in Australia going forward.”

Read: Scott Morrison fails to persuade states to lower migration rate at Coag

Perhaps the bigger conversation that has been neglected is the management of population growth. Simply cutting migration numbers would be a band-aid solution if key issues surrounding infrastructure and so forth continue not to be improved to accommodate a boom in population.

What are your views? As an immigration agency who seeks fairness for those who are genuine entrants, we hope that our policy makers will see the value that skilled migrants would bring to Australia and put aside their political agendas. After all it is key that our leaders look forward, look far forward to create opportunities for Australia to continue to grow in the ever changing global scene.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the Labour Party policies

Karl Konrad