The ABC’s Ian Verrender comments (24.4.17) on the Turnbull government’s proposed changes to citizenship rules and the skilled migrant visa program, arguing that the important economic contribution of Australia’s migrant population is often overlooked in a messy political debate.
‘For a nation built mostly on newly-arrived immigrants, it’s an issue guaranteed to inflame heated and at times vicious debate.
‘Outright distrust and opposition to anything “foreign” was part of our social fabric until 70 years ago, and at one stage was enshrined in our political system via The White Australia policy.
‘Then, the post war immigration boom saw waves of European refugees flee their war-torn homelands in search of a better life.
‘Those new arrivals changed Australia forever, overwhelmingly for the better, as did the influx of Asian immigrants fleeing conflict in the 1970s.
‘But despite the proclamations from our leaders that we are a tolerant mob who embrace cultural diversity, the deep-seated distrust among established Australians never really evaporated, as evidenced by the animosity towards new arrivals from the Middle East.
‘So inflamed are passions, it is nigh on impossible to have a sensible debate over levels of immigration whether it be in regards to the continent’s environmental sensitivities or on the impact on the economy.’
Playing politics with migration will doom Turnbull’s hapless government
Peter Lewis comments in The Guardian (26.4.17) that, if the Coalition’s migration changes were really about putting Australian workers first, there’s so much more it could be doing.
‘As Australia’s prime minister draped himself in the flag and got all hairy-chested about putting Australia first last week, he was also wrapping himself in a series of political contradictions that are poised to doom his hapless government.
‘It was a one-two punch which in Malcolm Turnbull’s mind’s eye must have packed all the power of a Rocky Balboa combination – first we crack down on foreign workers, then we crack down on those with the temerity to want Australian citizenship.
‘Look a bit closer and the nationalist combo seems more Aussie Joe Bugner, a massive wind-maker with very little follow through.
‘First came the announcement that the government would rewrite the controversial section 457 visas which allow employers to bring in workers under short-term visas on the basis they are faced with local skill shortages.
‘The initial public response to the restrictions as detailed in this week’s Guardian Essential Report could be described as tepid at best.’