By Andrew Bolt ~
One of the advisors to former Prime Minister John Howard’s Government, Terry Barnes is absolutely right. Both sides of politics are near silent about the real challenge at Australia’s borders:
From the Abbott and now Turnbull Government’s point of view and, indeed, for all successive governments since Bob Hawke’s time, the political obsession has been illegal boat arrivals and people smuggling…
But it focuses on only a handful of people: even at its peak in 2012-13, there were just 18,500 arrivals by boat in one hefty annual spike before then immigration minister Scott Morrison made good on the Coalition’s boat-stopping promise.
By contrast, and without fanfare, seven million temporary visas were issued and almost 190,000 permanent migrants arrived in 2014-15… Of the top 10 source countries in 2014-15, seven were Asian…
Going by their media activity, however, this tide of human movement matters little to our politicians. Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton has issued many press releases since he was appointed by Tony Abbott in December 2014: of all of them, 68 of them related to boats, asylum seekers, detention, people-smuggling and the Australian Border Force’s related role, while just 43 related to general immigration and citizenship issues.
Moreover, many of these latter releases were announcements of international meetings or merely human interest stories for citizenship ceremonies…
Given Sydney grew by 83,000 people in 2014-15, Melbourne by 91,000, and Australia’s overall population by 317,000, we have some big population and sustainability challenges to deal with. There is demand for land and housing; jobs for newcomers (but not in Whyalla) whether they’ve come from within Australia or overseas; schools; hospitals; roads; public transport; welfare and social services; and so on.
We need a debate about whether we have the mix right between productive economic and family reunion migrants, including whether eligibility criteria for one or both categories are too generous or not generous enough. Are we taking in too many migrants, full stop? …
Then there are questions of new arrivals integrating into the Australian community. This isn’t about cultures and religions clashing, despite ignorant stirrers of both left and right whipping up frenzies of hatred around Islam and Muslims as a visible minority. It’s about whether we’re doing enough to promote acceptance, respect and tolerance of newcomers, and what Australian community values those newcomers are or aren’t honouring in return.
Yet can we look to our politicians to even engage in, let alone lead a wider migration debate? No. Both major parties are terrified by it.
I actually think there are more serious concerns with Islam than Barnes seems to allow, but other migrant groups are also forming near colonies here, thanks to mass migration. As I said this week, these could also prove dangerous.
But where is the debate?
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.