Former leading politician calls for Australian immigration to be cut

by Ray Clancy on February 22, 2016

in Australia Immigration

A former Foreign Minister in Australia has called for the country’s immigration programme to be cut by up to a half as he thinks population growth is changing the way of life.

Bob Carr, also a former Premier of New South Wales, believes that a rising population on the eastern coast of the country is having the most effect.

“If you bring 100,000 people into the Sydney basin every year, the price of housing goes up and people wonder why their youngsters can’t get houses in the big cities… the answer is we are going for breakneck population growth,” he said.

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“I think the Australian people, if asked, would want immigration slowed. We’ve got a third-world style population growth rate. By the middle years of this century we’re going to have a huge concentration of the available land,” he explained.

“We can go the way of other cities so that the basic unit of housing is a unit in a high-rise tower, but I would rather think a lot of Australians would believe we’ve lost something of ourselves,” he added.

It is estimated that around 190,000 people will be given visas to stay in Australia this financial year and new figures show that the overall population of the country has just reached 24 million, much of the increase due to immigration.

Carr also believes that new immigration will invariably be “crammed” on a narrow coastal strip in Australia’s east side as immigrants don’t want to live and work in other parts of the country.

“There’s a case for pegging immigration back by easily one third, perhaps even 50%. There comes a point, given we’ve only got a narrow fertile coastal strip, when at 40 million, 50 million, 70 million by the end of the century, we’ve got to start thinking again,” he said.

“This is not a model that continues indefinitely. I’d rather see us tapering off before we’re locked into irreversible degradation of what we’ve got on this continent,” he added.

But Dr Helen Feist from the Australian Population and Migration Centre argues that high levels of immigration are needed to create a more diverse and more dynamic Australia. She also pointed out that in the past Australia has seen high levels of immigration from countries like Italy and Greece and that helped shape the nation and new waves of immigration from India and China should not be viewed differently.

Carr was Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from March 2012 to September 2013 and is also the longest continuously serving Premier in New South Wales history, having served for 10 years between 1995 and 2005.

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