By putting up huge hurdles for the next generation of offshore entrepreneurs, we’re missing out on one of the greatest opportunities to extend our economic boom.
We’re undermining our competitiveness in an increasingly globalised marketplace for everything from armchairs to apps, and of course this means robbing the local job market of much needed expansion.
Contrary to popular pockets of belief, immigrants to Australia don’t ‘take’ local jobs. On balance, they create them. Imagine if the founders of Westfield, Myer, Bing Lee or TNT faced the same road blocks on our borders that are up today.
These are big companies and job creators, all started by migrants. And in tough times like we face now, the need for the next generation of entrepreneurs coming to Australia is greater than ever.
They inject labour, skills and capital, develop new businesses and technologies and bring productive diversity through knowledge of international business markets. These contributions all have massive impacts, especially in job creation.
And if anyone’s under the impression that migrants take more than they contribute, aside from the network, knowledge and entrepreneurial flair they bring to the table, research shows they also kick in more tax than they draw from government services too.
Immigration is win-win for our slowing economy, and always has been. Simple as that.
Looking forward, the case is even stronger for increased migration. Research by the Government’s Productivity commission looked at the impact of increasing skilled migration by 50% on the level in 2005.
By 2025, there would be an increase in income per capita of about $400, or 0.7%, compared with the base case.
“Migration contributes to the economy in many ways," Commissioner Judith Sloan said of the findings. "As well as the upskilling of the workforce, economies of scale and the development of new export markets would further add to the economic benefits of migration.”
To appreciate the cultural and economic network immigration opens up, just look at where migrants are coming from.
In 2010-11 the top 10 countries for business migration to Australia were China, Korea, Malaysia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Iran and Sri Lanka.
The majority of these are important trading partners for Australia now and will continue to be into the future.
And while there has been some policy movement in the right direction, particularly the introduction of new ‘entrepreneurial visas', there is so much more we need to do to encourage economic migration to our big red backyard.
That’s not to cast aside the case for refugees in all this.
The reality is that refugees contribute a hell of a lot to our country, both economically and culturally. Not only is accepting them the compassionate thing to do, and the right thing to do. It’s the Australian thing to do.
We have a great country built on multiculturalism and a strong economy build by entrepreneurs. If we want to continue our prosperity, if we want more jobs, we need to welcome more immigrants.
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