08 October 2010

Australia Immigration Minister makes first major public address at conference

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The Honourable Chris Bown MP has made his first significant public address on his new role as Minister for Immigration and Citizenship at an annual migration conference.

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The Australia immigration minister has told a conference how migration has benefited Australia.

The Australia immigration minister opened the Migration 2010 Conference, an annual event of the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA).

During the speech he discussed pressing matters for his department, which includes offshore refugee processing centres and detention centres at home, as well as his personal history growing up in multicultural City of Fairfield, where he still lives and represents federally.

“Immigration is central to the fabric of our nation, with around two in five Australians born overseas, or with a parent who was born overseas. I'm one of them. My father's family – the Bowens – migrated to Australia from Wales in the 1860s to mine coal. My mother came here 100 years later – in the 1960s – as a self-described 'ten pound tourist'.  So I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Australia's migration program,” he said.

Mr Bowen has a mostly financial portfolio experience, and he admits that his appointment to the role of immigration minister may have come of a surprise to some.
“The appointment of an economist who had held a series of economic portfolios left some people wondering what sort of immigration minister I'd be.

“Well, as an economist I certainly understand the importance of our migration program to our economic challenges. I understand the impact our immigration program has on the 'three Ps' – population size, workplace participation rates and productivity levels,” he said.

Mr Bowen’s full speech to the conference can be read here.

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