07 April 2010

Businesses reject opposition proposal to cut Australian immigration levels

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The opposition’s plan to cut Australian immigration numbers has not been well received by major business groups who say they will fight the policy because it could threaten Australia’s productivity.

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Business leaders have rejected the opposition's proposal to restrict Australia immigration.

The Australian newspaper reported recently that the coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that Australia immigration was out of control and net overseas migration, now at about 300,000 people a year, needed to be reduced.

Business Council of Australia president Graham Bradley said big business would resist any attempts to cut immigrant numbers, and Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said the plan was ridiculous, and would be strongly opposed by business.

"We are glad the opposition is committed to skilled immigration, but we urge them to commit to a robust and sustained program," Ms Ridout said.

"We would be disappointed if they cut immigration to levels below the average of the last 40 years . . . We would face skills shortages, it would put pressure on the rest of the population and lead to higher taxes."

Mr Bradley said the Business Council of Australia had consistently advocated strong planned population growth including immigration, and that the need for skilled migrants was real.

 "You've only got to go to states like Western Australia to see the desperate need for additional skills in our economy to take full advantage of our natural resources and the development that we can build on the back of that," Mr Bradley said.

Australian National University demographer Peter McDonald told The Australian that the opposition plan ignored the immigration level needed to meet Australia's strong labour demand.

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