The United States and Australia Compared
Monash Studies in Global Movements series
Edited by John Higley, John Nieuwenhuysen and Stine Neerup
Chapter 11: Migration Politics in Australia During Uncertain Times
Stine Neerup1 The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) arrived at a time of comparatively high immigration intake in Australia, the net overseas migration (NOM) number having risen from 96 000 to 285 000 in the ten years to 2008–09.2 This rise in numbers had been accomplished with little opposition under the Howard federal government, whose term lasted from May 1996 to November 2007. The debate which occurred was almost completely centred on the sensitive issue of the arrival by boat of small handfuls of asylum seekers. However, with the onset of the GFC, the contention widened to include resource sustainability, overcrowding, housing affordability, infrastructure, water, and the viability of cities in which the large majority of the Australian population lives. This chapter examines the impact of the GFC on Australian immigration policy from its onset in 2008. It provides an analysis of the responses to the GFC of the Australian federal government, the political opposition, and the community, as it identifies the policymaking processes which enabled Australian politicians to respond comparatively quickly to changing circumstances affecting migration to and from the continent. In the short term the GFC will be shown to have substantially affected immigration policy and migrant outcomes by restricting access to entry and permanent settlement in Australia. Significant policy changes were implemented from 2009 to 2010 and during the federal election campaign in August 2010, when both major parties responded to public polls that showed adverse opinions on high immigration and population targets by moving away from...
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