The Immigration Debate
The Immigration Debate
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
The immigration debate has been a major issue in Australian politics for some time. Not the normal course of applying for and eventually emigrating to our shores, but the influx of asylum seekers or boatpeople as they are known, whose numbers have increased to an unacceptable level.
Being close to southern Asia, Australia is a destination for people who have fled the problems and inequities of their own countries, seeking a new life. During the Howard administration the policies that govern such illegal entries controlled the influx with around 50 people a year arriving on our shores by boats launched from Malaysia and Indonesia. Now under a Labour government, who changed those policies, the numbers of illegal immigrants by boat have increased to over 4,000. These people are so desperate to live here they risk their lives, pay the smugglers their life’s savings and would suicide rather than go back.
We now have detention centres filled with these people, who demonstrate, riot and go on hunger strikes because the wheels of processing their status is too slow. These people are small in number considering that over 53,000 people are illegal in Australia, having overstayed their visas. But the publicity and dramatics of the boatpeople’s plight raises the whole issue into contention.
Firstly, the whole idea of immigration is to ad value to our country, for people to live here, work and prosper as families and to add to the wealth and positive future of our nation. Australia is a multicultural country that has always welcomed immigrants to share our lifestyle and work for the common good. There have always been racial issues, as you would expect in blending cultures, but eventually immigrants become Aussies. First the English, then Italians and Greeks and now Asians come to Australia to work for better lives and a better future. But where do we draw the line?
The open door policy in England has had a negative affect on that country, creating ghettos and enclaves and racial division. Immigration can only work with assimilation, the melding of cultures. Australia cannot afford to just open the door to anyone, regardless of circumstance. Even now, the asylum seeker intake is costing Australia a fortune. These people do not work and something like 90% remain on welfare for at least five years. That is a huge drain on the public purse.
So how do we discern the people that qualify for immigration status, and how do we judge on humanitarian grounds, the real refugees. The boatpeople discard all their identification, before leaving port and this is one reason their status takes so long to establish.
We are lucky to live in a country like Australia, but opening the doors to just anybody is counterproductive and will eventually change our society and the freedoms and lifestyle we now enjoy. There are always going to be countries that are socially and culturally less that we enjoy. That mere fact should not automatically place those citizens under the category of refugee, just because they would like a better life. One has to have compassion, but practically, there has to be limits.
If a country like Australia simply opened the doors, we would be flooded with immigrants. Generally they would not assimilate and would create cultural divisions, in the end creating a country with problems much like the ones these people left. In short, Australia would be no more. If immigrants refuse to assimilate, they should not be accepted into our society, regardless of circumstance.
Our Government has a responsibility to its constituents to preserve our lifestyle and the accepted structure of our society. Any act that countermands that responsibility should not be accepted and should be made to suffer the political consequence. Governments that fail us on this issue will not remain in government for long.
Australia gives huge amounts of financial and physical aid to poor countries, and those in political crisis or famine, having suffered natural disasters or whatever. It is not our responsibility to change those inhabitants’ lives by giving them clear passage to live here. This is not dispassionate, simply practical, and our government must get this right.