Tom Keneally defends Australian immigration.
The Australian author Tom Keneally launched an extraordinary defence of Australian immigration yesterday during the iQ2 debate in Sydney stating that without immigration Australia would become â€œless wealthy, less clever, less imaginative and less of a successful polity.â€?
The 74 year old author told a packed audience that the nation should be encouraging more people to immigrate to Australia, as Australian immigration makes the nation cleverer and wealthier.
Mr Keneally was responding to comments made by Tim Flannery who argued that too many people are immigrating to Australia and that this high immigration rate was having a detrimental effect on the environment and on labour.
Mr Keneally rubbished these claims, saying: â€œit is our misuse of the environment which has created our environment disasters.â€? He went on to say that early immigrants who brought in hoofed animals to Australia and started deforestation for grazing land were to blame, thoseÂ early settlersÂ who now form part of Australiaâ€™s ancestry. He said; â€œthese, and not immigration, are to blame for the parlous condition of our environment.â€?
He also criticised those who blamed immigration for pressure on the labour market, saying that immigrants increased demand which then generated jobs.
His words will be warmly welcomed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship who are currently campaigning to get more skilled workers to immigrate to Australia to fill in the huge gaps experienced in many skilled industries such as nursing and engineering. The points system for obtaining a working Australian visa is currently under review, with the Department of Immigration expected to announce the changes next month.
Mr Keneally also attacked the racial argument against immigration, naming many famous Australians who had Jewish, Asian and Eastern European backgrounds, such as the painter Judy Cassab who was born in Austria and Frank Knopfemacher the famous Australian intellectual who was born of a Jewish family in Vienna. Mr Keneally stated: â€œImagine had the apostles of social cohesion and immigration limitation and reduction got their way. The reality of immigration proved to be the polar opposite of what was feared.
Mr Keneally did however praise the inclusiveness of Australia, citing as an example the fact that Australia has the highest level of ethnic inter-marriage in the world. He claims that immigration has enriched the community and created wealth, cleverness and imagination.
As Australian Citizenship Day approaches, Tom Keneally’s words should ring out loud and clear, because it is the very essence of immigration that has shaped the way Australia is today. That Australia is so diverse, so talented and so fascinating is largely thanks to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who head for Australia every year. If you fancy being one of those people, have a look at our Australian visa guide and chat to the members of our friendly community to find out what life is really like down under.