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skilled migration « Previous | |Next »
June 28, 2006

Have you noticed the way that immigration is changing. It used to be about family reunion. Now it is more about skilled migrants working in Australia to help overcome the skills shortage and ensure Australia's economic growth continues with the commodities boom. Business is pushing the expansion of the skilled migration programme. The Philippines is one major source of immigrant labour.

It is argued that immigrant labour increases productivity and the gross national product (GNP). So skilled migration is beneficial to Australia and should be expanded. Here is Alan Wood writing in The Australian:

The local availability of labour simply can't meet demand, and domestic labour supply can't be expanded via training and apprenticeships to fill the gap quickly, however much Labor and the unions like to pretend otherwise. And a lot of this demand, particularly in the resource industries, is for construction workers and it is temporary. Temporary skilled migration is the ideal solution in these circumstances, allowing Australia to expand its resource investment and do so without the usual inflationary boom and bust and without an overhang of excess labour. In the longer term, labour demand and supply will adjust, and governments should help it to do so by supporting education and skilled labour supply.

After all, we live in a globalised world, don't we. Many Australians work overseas ---the Australian diaspora is around 1 million people, the same number of people who live in Adelaide. Many of the disapora are relatively young, well-educated, highly skilled and prosperous.

I presume that most expatriate Australians still embrace Australia as their home. Do Australians embrace our expatriate community as part of the Australian nation, and recognise that our expatriates are an important part of Australian society? How do we see the entitlement of Australia's overseas citizens to be engaged in the electoral process?

What does that skilled immigration do for those conservatives deeply concerned with social cohesion and a united society? Presumably, not much at the moment because it is only temporary skilled workers coming in. They are not staying. They are not citizens. Now what if they want to stay and become citizens?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

"I presume that most expatriate Australians still embrace Australia as their home. Do Australians embrace our expatriate community as part of the Australian nation, and recognise that our expatriates are an important part of Australian society? How do we see the entitlement of Australia's overseas citizens to be engaged in the electoral process? "

Brilliant question.

WeekbyWeek,

I raised the question because the Australian Senate's Legal and Constitutional References Committee, which tabled its Report in the Inquiry into Australian Expatriates in Canberra on 8 March 2005, made some recommedations.

One of these held that the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be amended to assist expatriate Australians to maintain their electoral enrolment.These amendments are:

Australian citizens moving or living overseas should be entitled to register as an "Eligible Overseas Elector" if they left Australia in the previous three years, or have returned to Australia (for any length of time) in the past three years; and they intend to resume residence in Australia within six years of their departure;

and:
Australian citizens who have been living overseas for six years should be entitled to renew their enrolment as an eligible overseas elector if they have returned to Australia (for any length of time) within the last three years.

These amendments do not re-enfranchise all overseas Australians who presently cannot vote because they are no longer on the electoral roll.

All the overseas Australians, who constitue the Australian disapora, should be eligible to vote, should they not?