How does Australia benefit from immigration?

by Mark Benson on July 4, 2012

in Australia Immigration

Over the last few weeks there has not been a day when the Australian immigration system has not been headline news for various reasons. Immigration is very much a focal point of life in Australia and while there is much criticism of the existing system it is worth looking at the benefits of immigration for Australia.

Economic benefits

Despite the fact that Australia has grown significantly over the last few years the economy is still but a fraction of the size of some of the major worldwide trading platforms. When you take into account the current ongoing skills shortages across a variety of different sectors this perfectly illustrates the fact that Australia needs skilled immigrant workers more than many other countries around the world. So what do skilled immigrant workers bring to the economy?

Aside from the fact that many of them will fill an immediate skills shortage and assist with productivity of the overall Australian economy it is worth noting that they have skills and experiences to pass on to domestic workers. You can read all of the books in the world, you can listen to all of the conferences in the world but the reality is that unless you are able to learn on the job it is very difficult to immediately transfer skills in theory to skills in practice.

There is no doubt that for example the mining sector would be anywhere near as powerful today if it was not for the ever growing influx of skilled workers from overseas. That is not to say there are not workers in Australia with the required skill sets but very often they are not readily available or in short supply.

Tax

Despite the fact that unions and a variety of other third parties within Australia continue to attack migrant workers it is worth considering that they pay more than their fair share of income tax. Not only do they pay direct taxes to the government, often from significantly higher wages than the Australian average, but they also contribute to spending in the local economy and the wider economy. Indeed we have seen the creation of specific airline routes to accommodate those in the mining industry which perfectly reflects how beneficial income from migrant workers can and has been.

The ever growing stream of income into the coffers of the Australian government not only allows the government to balance the budget but it also allows the authorities to invest in infrastructure and other vital elements of the Australian economy. This ongoing investment is required to keep Australia at the cutting-edge of the worldwide financial arena and without additional income from groups such as migrant workers it would be a very different situation to what we see today.

Education

We recently highlighted a suggestion from the opposition parties with regards to student exchange programs between Australian education facilities and their counterparts in Asia. This has been successful on a number of occasions in the past and not only does it bring some of the sharpest minds to the Australian education system, and give their Australian counterparts a similar opportunity, but it also encourages investment and migration from some of the brightest minds and future business entrepreneurs.

It is no surprise to see that the Australian authorities are looking to further diversify their overseas education partnerships and further spread the presence of Australia in the wider marketplace. In many ways the Australian education system has benefited from a flexibility and willingness to learn overseas education systems and education procedures which have been integrated in some ways into the domestic system. This ability to integrate a variety of different education styles and systems will certainly prove to be extremely beneficial going forward.

Trading links

It is obvious that the more immigrants from specific areas of the world the more chance of overseas investment from businesses and investors in these specific countries. Very often migrant groups can bring with them an array of business opportunities which may otherwise have been lost to other more welcoming countries of the world. Indeed the ongoing relationship with Asia as a whole, China and India specifically, has created significant opportunities and extremely lucrative contracts for Australian businesses and Australian entrepreneurs.

While Australia still has some way to go before it can claim to be in the higher league of economies around the world there is no doubt that the relative strength against the worldwide economic situation at the moment is catching the eye of many. Indeed it is believed that the mining sector will continue to grow for at least the next decade which should give the authorities a very strong platform on which to grow and develop other areas of the economy. An overdependence upon mining as a whole is not healthy in the longer term but if it can more than pay its way in the short term then this will open up other trading opportunities in due course.

Cultural diversity

There are many countries around the world which encourage cultural diversity and claim to have some of the more diverse cultures and populations in the world, but Australia has certainly made excellent progress in this particular area. It now boasts an array of migrant groups across the country and while there has been some friction in the past between certain elements, on the whole this has been a relatively incident free development.

Cultural diversity opens up a whole array of new opportunities with regards to trade, education and investment to name but a few. There may be some way to go yet before Australia “maxes out” on cultural diversity but there are certainly benefits to be had.

Conclusion

Over the last few weeks we have seen significant criticism of the Australian government and more specifically the Australian immigration system. Therefore, sometimes it is worth taking a step back to consider exactly what migrant workers bring to the country and the benefits of a diverse culture going forward. No integration of different cultures and different religions will ever be totally smooth but there is no doubt that Australia has benefited more than many from this ongoing situation.

It is easy to forget that Australia has a relatively small and undeveloped economy compared to the larger nations of the world but there is also no doubt that the voice of Australian business is now louder than it ever has been. If the authorities are successful in creating a more diverse economy in the future then there is no doubt this voice will grow louder as will the number of trading partners and the influence of Australian businesses around the globe. There are some drawbacks to immigration but on the whole it has proved, and continues to prove, very successful for Australia.

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