THEY take our jobs is a line often spouted by those opposed to immigrants entering Australia, whether those immigrants are skilled, temporary workers on 457 visas, refugees or asylum seekers.
The fact of the matter is that immigration promotes economic growth and creates jobs, which is good for the Australian economy, families and society. Economic modelling and countless peer reviewed academic papers over decades clearly demonstrate that Australia is financially - not to mention socially - much the richer thanks to wave after wave of immigration to the shores of the Lucky Country.
So why does the baseless ‘they take our jobs’ balderdash persist, particularly among the rabid feral fringe of anti-immigration activists? For the most part it’s fear - the kind of fear that is easily tapped into by dog-whistling from frothing-at-the-mouth ultra-nationalists. Sadly, there are some Australians who won’t rest until Australia returns to a monochrome, white man’s paradise where bangers and mash are on the menu every night. It is also true that the two major political parties in Australia are caught like frightened rabbits in a spotlight, afraid of upsetting dinosaur right-wing shock jocks and ageing, increasingly irrelevant conservative tabloid columnists by sending a consistent and positive message about immigration - particularly about the economic benefits that immigrant refugee’s offer.
Instead of undermining Australian culture and values, as some loudmouth media personalities and fringe-dwelling politicians would have you believe, immigration adds much value and colour to the Australian way of life. The vast majority of immigrants aspire to work hard and own their own homes and businesses; to have their children educated; to enjoy the kinds of freedoms that Australians often take for granted; and to partake in great Australian customs such as hosting a backyard barbecue. The children of immigrants will grow up to support an AFL team, play netball, pay taxes and be true blue dinky-di Aussies – regardless of their cultural and religious backgrounds.
The only area of concern on the immigration front is the blatant abuse of the 457 visa guest worker scheme by some unscrupulous employers. Guest workers have an important role to play in areas where there are significant skills shortages, such as aged care, and where there are jobs that Australians can’t or won’t fill, such as harvest work. Guest workers must be afforded the same safeguards as Australian workers and be given the opportunity to settle permanently in Australia. Those businesses that abuse the rights of 457 visa holders need to be held to account and face the full force of the law.
Countless immigrants have made an enormous contribution to Australia in the fields of business, sport, science and the arts. Great Australians such as Westfield founder Frank Lowy and the eminent scientist Sir Gustav Nossal (both of whom arrived in Australia as refugees) are two classic examples. The current crop of refugees and asylum seekers will no doubt also make a positive lasting impact on Australian society.
Australia’s return on investment from immigration has paid a massive dividend economically, socially and culturally, and will continue to do so regardless of the whining drone of dissatisfaction from a noisy minority who are hell bent on living in the past.
Some Australians need to wake up and accept the fact that immigration is a proven job creator. Immigrants didn’t take your job: they created it.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.