Australian Lawmakers Call to Slash Mass Immigration in Post-Coronavirus World

A crowd of more than 4,000 Australians at the Opera House in Sydney wave to TV cameras as the live telecast Australia Unites, "Reach out to Asia" concert goes to air Saturday, Jan. 8, 2005. The live to air concert is a fundraising effort for victims of the south-Asian earthquake …
AP Photo/Rob Griffith

Australian lawmakers of all political stripes have joined a call to slash migrant numbers after the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, arguing the country’s historic reliance on new arrivals to boost growth has hurt workers while driving soaring house prices and crowded cities.

Their push addresses concerns many Australian employers use the current temporary visa system to avoid hiring local workers and were exploiting people whose visa status and security depended on their wage provider.

“Do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis?” Labor Party parliamentary member Kristina Keneally wrote in an opinion piece. “Our answer should be no.”

In particular, she called for a reduction in the number of young, lower-skilled temporary workers permitted to enter the country and more investment in skills training for locals at a time when more than a quarter of Australia’s population is foreign born, the second largest in the OECD.

“We must make sure that Australians get a fair go and a first go at jobs,” Keneally outlined in the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age newspapers.

“Our post-Covid-19 economic recovery must ensure Australia shifts away from its increasing reliance on a cheap supply of overseas, temporary labour that undercuts wages for Australian workers and takes jobs Australians could do.”

A member of the ruling conservative coalition, Andrew Laming, agreed. He said there was scope to increase the skill-based element of the migrant intake, arguing it was vital to focus on “quality rather than quantity”.

Senator Dean Smith has also raised concerns about immigration, saying Australia deserves a more comprehensive debate in the wake of the pandemic.

“Any plan to reshape Australia once the coronavirus has passed must start with a conversation about the composition, geographic spread and the skill components of our population,” he said.

The current immigration debate in Australia’s parliament is a continuation of one that began in earnest even before the Chinese coronavirus epidemic took hold, as Breitbart News reported.

In January, soaring house prices and crowded cities combined to convince a clear majority of Australians the country’s open door immigration push must end.

Just 30.4 per cent of Australians now believe the country needs more people, according to a poll conducted by the Australian National University (ANU).

This was compared to 69.6 per cent who felt Australia did not need more people, a dramatic increase since a similar poll was done in 2010.

The collapse in support was most prominent among males with just 32.8 percent supporting a bigger Australia compared to 53.4 percent in the 2010 poll.

Most Australians support the notion of cultural diversity but did not want population growth to come at the expense of the quality of life of the majority, according to the survey.

The results confirm previous calls by local politicians for the country’s conservative coalition government to end mass migration.

Australia’s current population growth is the largest it has experienced since colonisation.

In 1981 the Australian population was around 14.9 million people. By June 2018 it had reached 25.0 million, with the last five million of that growth occurring since December 2004.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in 2018 he intended to cut Australia’s permanent migration intake by about 30,000 people, citing public concern about congested cities.

“They are saying: enough, enough, enough,” Morrison told the 2018 Bradfield Oration.

In December last year immigration was again at the forefront of national debate when the Department of Home Affairs declared social cohesion must be at the forefront of any future decisions on migrant intakes.

This includes cautioning migrants they must fully embrace Australian values, including learning English, while pledging allegiance to the country that will be their new home, as Breitbart News reported.

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