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Australians appreciate the value of migration – poll finds

18 July 20140 comments

migration and crimeA fifth of Australians favour higher migration levels and half say they want current levels maintained, according to a new poll.

A Newspoll survey published in The Australian newspaper this week found half of the people responding indicated support for Australia’s existing intake levels, which resulted in 190,000 new immigrants last year.

Around 22 per cent say they would support an even higher intake, revealing robust support for one of the most multicultural societies on earth.

Another 27 per cent want immigration levels cut.

The poll came as News Corporation’s boss Rupert Murdoch called for Australia to throw open its doors to immigration and welcome those who “cherish the values of the country”.

“We should be a beacon, but that means holding ourselves to high standards and not simply finding fault with others,” Mr Murdoch said.

“We must be open to immigrants, to their desire to improve themselves and to the resulting improvement in our country.”

Australia has amongst the largest per capita intake of migrants of any country in the world.

More than 190,000 people, mainly skilled migrants and their families, permanently moved to our shores last year.

The Newspoll survey also found we are less worried about where our new residents come from.

Commentators have pointed out this week that this is in stark contrast to a generation or two ago when the White Australia Policy was unquestioned by both the Liberal and Labor parties.

It took the brave leadership of Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, once bitter foes and now friends, to overcome ingrained prejudice and set Australia on a new path.

Business groups have recently called for even higher skilled migration levels.

The Australian Industry Group (AIG) says it has identified an urgent need for more skilled workers citing signs of an upturn in residential and commercial construction and saying a 15 per cent increase is needed.

A 15 per cent increase would see the current migration level rise from 190,000 to 220,000 per year.

AIG Chief Executive Innes Willox says increasing and persistent skill shortages across key parts of the nation’s economy means increased immigration should be considered as a solution.

“The Australian workplace productivity agency has indicated that Australia will need an increase of 2.8 million people with quite specific skills over the next decade to fill the gaps,” Mr Willox said.

“We need to find ways to fill those gaps and obviously we can train our own but the quickest stopgap measure is to import skills, to bring people with those skills into Australia.

“There’s always debate in Australia about levels of migration and the skills component of that is about 70%. So about 70% of that 190,000 are people with skills,” he said.

Mr Willox said the AIG believes the increases in migration levels should be gradual, taking the intake back above 200,000 and further in needed.

“Australia is a big importer of labour because of the makeup of our economy and we believe there may be scope to further increase that in the years ahead.” he said.

Mr Willox said he expected to see an increase in the construction sector, particularly around housing construction over the next two years.