Key times in Australia’s history required targeted immigration schemes to help build Australia, such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme after World War II that employed more than 100,000 people from more than 30 countries (1).
However, in modern times there has been a shift in public opinion where the majority of Australians want to cut our immigration intake because of “fears over job security in the shaky global economy and local pressures on infrastructure” (2).
While Rise Up Australia welcomes people from other nations, we oppose any system that allows our immigration intake ratios to be determined by greedy people smugglers operating organised crime syndicates that risk lives at sea and facilitate rorting of our system.
We also believe that our intake ratios should reflect decisions that protect the Australian way of life, including requirements of assimilation as well as adequate jobs and infrastructure to support population growth.
1. Refugee Processing
Substantial evidence of rorting of our immigration system has surfaced by reputable sources. Published claims by a former senior Immigration Department official maintain that large numbers of people claiming asylum are fraudulent and our immigration system is “easily scammed” (3).
There was evidence of asylum seekers coaching others on how to change or embellish their stories to claim refugee status and get the best possible outcome. He also stated that under these rorts “middle-class Iranian asylum-seekers often arrived barely a week after leaving Tehran and exhibited an aggressive entitlement mentality” (3).
In addition, there were claims by a former member of the Refugee Review Tribunal that asylum-seekers on Australia’s offshore processing centre in Christmas Island revealed they had copied their stories from other successful applicants from court case transcripts that had been widely circulated (3). In some cases, there were 100 people telling identical stories but with the names changed. There was also evidence that recordings of interviews with immigration officials were sold in Asia to coach people on what to say in order to falsely claim refugee status.
The Australian reported that “the boatpeople phenomenon in Australia is a big, organised crime industry” and that 80 to 90 per cent of asylum seekers arrive without identity documents, primarily Muslims from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran (4).
There has been evidence to indicate that there were asylum seekers who had dumped or destroyed their documents to improve their chances of settlement (5). The UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, of which Australia is a signatory, limits our capacity to approach the asylum seeker’s source nation for security and identity checks in order to protect them from potential repercussions if their claim of is genuine (3). This leaves officials with little choice but to run the name they are given through their existing security databases but with little other provisions to verify their identity and substantiate their claim.
Administrative pressures to process high numbers of applicants with limited resources meant that there had been refugee claims without sufficient substantiation that had been approved (3).This is a system that presents grave security, social and economic implications for our nation.
It is also unfair that genuine refugees and visa applicants who pursue legal channels for settlement face longer waiting times because the system is overwhelmed with fraudulent claims. Our generous welfare system has made Australia a prime target for people who are not fleeing direct threats in their homeland, such as torture or persecution, but view our nation as a ‘gravy train’.
Rise Up Australia is committed to across-the-board reforms to the immigration system that includes a hard-line approach to false claims of refugee status and a requirement that settlers who are capable of working go onto productive employment rather than long-term welfare dependency.
We also support offshore processing and safe mandatory detention, with children given priority access, with an increase in resources to equip our officials in making sound assessments.
Rise Up Australia will ensure that those who are found to have manipulated the system, exhibited violent or aggressive behaviour, destroyed identity documents or are incompatible with the Australian way of life are refused entry.
2. Regional Collaboration
Rise Up Australia would like to review our approach to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees signed more than 60 years ago. It was originally framed to respond to the massive exodus of Europeans after World War II fleeing persecution (eg. Holocaust refugees) but its interpretation in recent decades has been broadened beyond its original intention (6).
Since our nation is the only one between here and Afghanistan that has signed in the past 60 years, both genuine and fraudulent ‘refugees’ from primarily Muslim nations have by-passed other peaceful, democratic nations to come to our shores (7).
We support diplomatic negotiations with other countries to display a greater commitment to addressing the flow of asylum seekers throughout the region. Strategic collaboration with our neighbours is an essential part of the solution.
3. Requirement of Assimilation
We rejoice that people who come here from other nations are free to celebrate their own diverse backgrounds, while respecting Australian culture and complying with Australian laws. However, Rise Up Australia emphasises that we are a multi-ethnic nation, but with one culture.
We oppose the setting up of ethnic enclaves that create parallel societies and exclude other Australians. As some social commentators have noted, these enclaves are the by-product of years of multicultural policies that have encouraged immigrants to remain segregated rather than become integrated into their host nations.
It is the responsibility of every citizen, not just the government, to encourage assimilation by making new arrivals feel welcome and showing good examples of what it means to be an Australian.
Assimilation is not just about blending in but making a positive contribution to our society. Our welfare system is inundated with asylum seekers who fail to go onto productive employment in our economy. Statistics showed that only 9 per cent of Afghans, for example, were employed five years after their arrival and 94 per cent of them still receiving Centrelink welfare payments (8).
The system in its current state is unsustainable and has contributed to our federal budget blow-out. Rise Up Australia will discourage migrants from seeing our nation as their ‘meal ticket’ but rather endeavour to ensure they are positive additions to our communities.
4 Infrastructure and Jobs Growth
Our immigration ratios have been determined without proper regard for infrastructure and support services to cater for our population growth. This includes housing availability; health and education services; and community support programs which are not keeping pace with increasing demand (9).
Rise Up Australia would require that local, state and federal governments work together to establish priorities for immigration intake ratios and resettlement distribution. This will ensure that population growth is balanced and well supported by services and infrastructure in all areas.
It is also our goal to clamp down heavily on visa abuse, particularly 457 visas. In some cases, foreign workers have been brought into areas where there were no skills shortages and businesses had failed to advertise jobs that could have been offered to Australians first (10).
In other cases, workers were exploited by being loaded with high-interest debts and given false information about visa conditions by agents promising work in Australia (11). Some overseas students were using the “universities-only fast track visa system to get to Australia, then jumping ship to cheaper private colleges” under the mistaken belief they would still get post-study work rights (12).
We have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of our immigration system in whatever form it takes. And while Rise Up Australia wants to avoid demonising immigrants—recognising that many have made a beneficial contribution to our nation throughout its history— we want to ensure that their entry and settlement is on our terms and is not detrimental to the greater good.
1 ‘Immigration History 1945-1955’, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, retrieved 26 August 2013, http://www.immi.gov.au/about/reports/annual/2009-10/html/65-years-of-nation-building/Immigration-history-1945-1955.htm
2 ‘Australians are less tolerant of immigrants, poll reveals’, Australia Forum, 24 May 2012, http://www.australiaforum.com/information/immigration/australians-are-less-tolerant-of-immigrants-poll-reveals.html
3 ‘’Frauds’ granted refugee status as determination process breaks down’, The Australian, 15 June 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/frauds-granted-refugee-status-as-determination-process-breaks-down/story-fn59niix-1226664169170
4 ‘Policy failure creating a monstrous problem’, The Australian, 8 June 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/policy-failure-creating-a-monstrous-problem/story-e6frg76f-1226659596004
5 ‘Labor unveils hard line on asylum seekers who destroy documents’, The Sunday Telegraph, 7 July 2013, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/labor-unveils-hard-line-on-asylum-seekers-who-destroy-passports/story-fni0cx12-1226675352379
6 ‘UN convention misunderstood, and it’s not working’, 10 July 2010, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/un-convention-misunderstood-and-its-not-working/story-e6frg6zo-1225889968841
7 ‘Kevin Rudd wants to update, adapt the 1951 Convention on Refugees to fit current traffic’, National News, 18 July 2013, http://www.news.com.au/national-news/kevin-rudd-wants-to-update-adapt-the-1951-un-convention-on-refugees-to-fit-current-traffic/story-fncynjr2-1226681250288
8 ‘Boatloads of welfare recipients,’ Herald Sun, retrieved 27 August 2013, http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_boatloads_of_welfare_recipients/
9 ‘Report card infrastructure failing to keep pace’, ABC News, 3 May 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-03/report-card-reveals-infrastructure-failing-to-keep/4667770
10 ‘457 visa rorting: Workers accuse Indian IT giant Tata Consultancy Services of visa abuse’, ABC News, 21 June 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-20/workers-accuse-indian-it-giant-of-457-visa-abuse/4769482
11 ‘Job ad paints new picture of 457 scheme’, The Age, 24 July 2013, http://www.theage.com.au/business/job-ad-paints-new-picture-of-457-visa-scheme-20130724-2qiht.html
12 ‘Immigration confirms new student rort’, The Australian, 23 August 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/immigration-confirms-new-student-rort/story-e6frgcjx-1226702076411