01 October 2012

Minister defies PM in calls for Australian immigration boost

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Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has announced new legislation designed to prevent employers from hiring staff without a valid Australia visa.

Australia immigration

Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean believes Australian immigration rates should be increased.

Ms Gillard's predecessor Kevin Rudd promoted a 'Big Australia' idea when assuming power in 2008; by increasing Australian immigration and encouraging further growth he envisioned the country's population - which recently surpassed 22.5 million - to reach 35 million people within the next few decades.

However, after Ms Gillard succeeded Mr Rudd, she dismissed the idea and called for 'a sustainable Australia, not a Big Australia' fuelled by controlled levels of population growth and the Big Australia policy was effectively abandoned.

But now, speaking in Adelaide, Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean has threatened to reignite the debate by calling for the governing Labor Party to reintroduce to Big Australia idea to fulfil its potential for cheaper housing and a more efficient workforce.

"I believe in a Big Australia," said Mr Crean.

"I think that's made this country great - unequivocally - has been immigration. It's been good for us economically, it's been good for us socially, and it's been good for us culturally."

The minister's comments come after one of Australia's most influential property developers, Gerry Karidis, said Australia would benefit from being home to 35 million people.

"More people means more business and more demand for services and that creates jobs," said Mr Karidis.

"Over the next 30 years the number of over-65-year-olds will double, while the growth of the traditional workfo0rce age will slow to almost nothing.

"Who will feed these [older] people? Who will pay taxes?"


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