Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reduce immigration to Australia but increase refugee intake

A friend recently suggested to me that I must find it hard to reconcile my views on refugees* (ie, increase the intake to Australia) and immigration to Australia (reduce it) -- but I don't find it hard at all, for the following reasons:

In rough figures, Australia brings in 135,000 immigrants per annum, of which about 10 per cent are refugees fleeing for their lives. Of the remaining 90 per cent, the immigration criteria tend to be family reunion, or the skills and/or money the applicants can bring to Australia. A Singapore or New York millionaire stock trader stands a far greater chance of being given a new life in Australia than a mother in Somalia or Afghanistan whose husband has been boiled to death by police.

I'm not in favour of diluting traditional Australian culture by waves of immigration, but I am in favour of human rights and giving refuge to those suffering persecution. So, if I had the opportunity, I would reduce immigration to about 100,000 and increase the rate of refugees to about 75 per cent of the total. Furthermore, I would allow the family-reunion component of immigration to favour the families of those who have fled persecution.

Human compassion aside, one of the reasons for my favouring refugees is that they are inclined to have superior personal attributes by which Australia would benefit. To become a refugee, usually a person has already proved incredible integrity and courage (firstly by standing up to oppressive regimes), character and resilience (by surviving persecution and torture, and often the murder of loved ones), and resourcefulness (by escaping the borders of those regimes, and taking many chances, such as fleeing across unknown waters in leaky boats). I believe Australia would benefit more by increasing its intake of people of integrity, courage, character, resilience and resourcefulness, than people with other characteristics, such as personal wealth or having wealthy relatives who are already in this country.

* According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.

Read more about the plight of the world's refugees

Austcare - 40 Years of Australians Caring for the World

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