Cuts to Australian immigration won’t hurt economic growth says PMSo this weekend here in Australia we have an election with the two front runners being the incumbent labour party headed up by the current PM Julia Gillard and the Federal Opposition headed up by a chap named  Tony Abbott.

Immigration policy has been high on the agenda for both parties so I thought it woud be useful to write a post which provides a little more insight into each of the parties potemtial future immigration policies.

I think it’s fair to say that both parties will have ‘some‘ impact on Australian immigration numbers although thankfully both seem to share the view that a healthy intake of skilled immigrants will still be required to help guarantee the success of the Australian economy in the years to come.

To begin with, I’m not sure which country she lives in however the current Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has denied that the Labor government’s promise to cut migration would hurt economic growth.

The Labor Party has promised to deliver “a sustainable Australia”, which will involve reducing Australian Visa numbers, but has said its policies would still fuel growth.

The Australian business community has criticised Ms Gilliard, saying that her promise to slow Australian Immigration would be a bad economic step for a country that has benefited from increased living standards and prosperity since World War II because of immigration-fuelled growth.

Describing herself as a supporter of immigration, Ms Gillard, who was born in Wales in the UK, said targets had to be set according to economic circumstances and that Labor’s policies would fuel growth by encouraging Australian skills and infrastructure.

The Prime Minister said she wants to deliver skills to Australians first and has highlighted her plans for a National Broadband Network and spending on training.

The comments came as economic management dominated the Federal election campaign, and Ms Gillard declared the opposition’s economic policy is in chaos after Liberal Deputy Senate Leader George Brandis said he did not know when a Coalition government would return the budget to surplus despite the Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s guarantees of a surplus by 2012-13.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the Coalition's immigration policy will look to "intelligently manage" immigration

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the other hand says the Coalition’s immigration policy will look to “intelligently manage” immigration but not at the cost of Australian businesses.

The Federal Opposition says it would cut migration levels by almost half if it wins the election, reducing Australia’s net migration from nearly 300,000 people per year to just 170,000.

Mr Abbott told a press gathering skilled migration remained important to the Australian economy.

“What we are proposing is a reduction of 100,000 [immigrants] from 2009. We’re going to get there sensibly, carefully, with good advice,” he said.

“What we’re not going to do is restrict various employer-nominated categories because we think they are important for Australia’s continued economic health.

“Most are not aware but I am a migrant myself. Australia is an immigrant society. It is important that an immigration program has the support of our people and that is what this policy is designed to ensure.

“What we are announcing today is a demonstration that we are fair dinkum, that we will back up our talk with appropriate policy.”

Earlier, the Opposition’s immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, indicated the number of skilled worker visas would be protected.

“We are very keen to ensure a strong skilled migration program and one that particularly addresses the needs of regional areas,” he said.

But Population Minister Tony Burke has accused the Opposition of using a sneaky political trick.

He says migration levels are already forecast to fall even further than the Coalition’s target.

“By 2011/2012, it’s forecast that we’ll be at 145,000,” he said.

“That’s because there were rorts in the system that were put in place under the previous Government. We’ve cleaned up those rorts and they’re now working our way through the system.

“All he’s done is take existing projections over the next 12 months or so and call them his policy.”

Student visas

When asked on cutting back on student visas, Mr Abbott said he was all in favour of Australia selling education.

“But what I don’t want particularly is selling immigration outcomes in the guise of selling education,” he said.

“It is just a question of intelligently managing the program, making sure that all the entrants in these various categories are fair dinkum – that’s what we did before under Phillip Ruddock, that’s what we’ll do again.

“If we want to be a cohesive, prosperous society, we need strong popular support for the program.

“Let’s have an immigration program that people can support, that they don’t think is out of control, that they don’t think is subcontracted to people smugglers.”

Hmmmmmm.. personally I’m not sure if I would go for either party with policies like that but hopefully somebody somewhere is doing their homework…

What do you think? Let us know by posting a comment below.