Thursday, 16 August 2018
That the Senate:
(a) notes the growing concerns around Australia of the sustained historically high levels of immigration to Australia; and
(b) calls upon the Australian Government to halve the current immigration intake.
The government will not be voting for this motion. But while the government does not support this motion as drafted, we do support the principle that migration and population growth must be managed in such a way as to benefit all Australians. In 2017-18 the permanent migration program fell for the second year running, to 162,417 places. This decline has occurred at a time of unprecedented jobs growth. The coalition's policies are ensuring that Australians have priority in the labour market. We're also taking further steps to reform our immigration system and have been undertaking a comprehensive review of the visa system to focus it on delivering the best possible outcomes for Australians.
Labor will be opposing this motion. Australia is a nation built on migration. We have welcomed 7.5 million migrants since World War II, who have helped to build Australia into the strong, vibrant multicultural society it is today. The size and composition of Australia's permanent migration program is set each year through the budget process, and is based on evidence. Senator Bernardi has moved this motion as a stunt to gain attention and to justify his existence in this place. Of course we understand that Australians are frustrated with stagnant wages, unaffordable housing and clogged infrastructure. But migrants are not to blame; that falls squarely with the Turnbull government. Only Labor has the policies to tackle housing affordability, build the infrastructure our cities need and ensure that local workers get the first shot at local jobs.
I rise simply to indicate that I won't be supporting this motion either. A focus on the number of immigrants is irrelevant. It's the quality of the immigrants, skilled immigrants versus family reunions, and where they go that matters. It's a much more nuanced debate than simply about numbers, and I can't support a motion that simply focuses on numbers.
That the Senate:
(a) acknowledges the absolute right of the Australian people to determine who comes to this country;
(b) notes that, in reference to the immigration policy of this government giving preference to Europeans, former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies stated, "I don't want to see reproduced in Australia the kind of problem they have in South Africa or in America or increasingly in Great Britain. I think it's been a very good policy and it's been of great value to us"; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to hold a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want:
(i) to continue the current indiscriminate immigration policy that allows Muslims to come into this country, or
(ii) to return to the predominantly European immigration policy supported by Sir Robert Menzies.
All I am asking here is that the Australian people get a say not only in how many people come to this country but also, more particularly, on who comes to this country. That's what I am asking. I think, overwhelmingly, the Australian people need to have a say in who comes to this country and what our society will look like in the future. Thank you, Mr President.
I say from the outset that Labor will oppose this motion. Senator Anning's comments in this place were disgusting and divisive and have been rightly condemned by all sides of politics. Now, with this motion, the senator is attempting to continue his time in the spotlight. Australia is a nation built on migration, and our non-discriminatory immigration policy is our strength and our pride. Following the White Australia policy being dismantled, the Racial Discrimination Act was passed by the Whitlam government in 1975 to ensure Australia would not return to the backward, unjust and discriminatory days of the past. Labor believe in a fair go for all, and we'll always stand up for the multicultural and migrant communities of Australia and defend our non-discriminatory immigration policy. This motion and the racist and discriminatory views it stands for have no place in this parliament.
This motion is a disgrace, particularly coming off the back of Senator Anning's comments earlier this week, which were disgusting and divisive and brought this entire parliament into disrepute. I want to make a couple of points. Firstly, it was good to see this parliament come together to condemn Senator Anning, but what Senator Anning said does not happen in isolation. This government has been sleep-walking Australia down this path for a long time now, demonising African people in Melbourne and joining with the Labor Party in a discriminatory migration policy which locks up only people with brown and black skins in places like Manus Island and Nauru. We have to see Senator Anning's comments in that context. I say very clearly that, if the Labor and Liberal parties had not been joining in discriminatory migration, those comments could not have been made.