Recently there’s arisen a debate about having a debate on immigration and also an attempt to relive the glory days of asylum seeker politics. Whilst attempts to link the two have been cynical, I believe there might be a good reason to link them.
Why not draw almost all our new migrants from asylum seekers; more specifically, from boat people?
Lets work from the ground up.
I have no idea of the “carrying capacity” of the continent, and I don’t know how capable we are of actually calculating it, but I think it’s safe to say it’s in the range < infinity. Additionally, whilst we may not be anywhere near such a point at the moment, there will be a point where the weight of migration will completely overwhelm the existing culture. For reference note that my family has seven or so generations here but still has managed to avoid learning a single indigenous language. From this two points we can establish that there has to be some upper limit, no matter how high, on immigration intake. Some kind of quota.
Such a quota necessitates some kind of selection mechanism. We could just do a first come first serve, or a lottery, but both would likely be unpopular and probably suboptimal from our perspective. A mechanism whereby we auction off immigration places would be likewise unpopular.
Instead we have consensus around a policy of selecting “the best” to settle here (apart from family reunion schemes).
But what is “the best”. At the moment we’re trying a skills based system. This has large flaws. Firstly it relies on the ability of bureaucrats to ascertain what specific talents are needed in Australia at any given time to create a list of desirable skills. There is no reason why any bureaucrat, no matter how diligent or competent should be expected to have such exceptional knowledge and judgement. It also relies on the ability of agencies here and abroad to correctly give accreditation and determine whether a given individual has, or has not skills. It also has led to the expansion of a very suss education sector now belatedly being reformed which also is effectively a cash for visa system. This is unpalatable to many people for the same reasons as an auction scheme, but the government isn’t even receiving revenue.
A way of determining quality based less on pieces of paper and which could provide revenue to government may be in order.
Maybe “the best” in migrants are not those with pieces of paper but those with certain character traits. Determination to improve their lot, entrepreneurial spirit, “get up and go” etc. Any person willing to uproot themselves and adapt has these qualities in some measure, and this has served Australia and other countries like New Zealand, America and Canada well over the years. In fact, from the first people bobbing in canoes across the Torres Strait to the our current migrants only a few have been passive guests of His Majesty (my ancestors included).
Unfortunately technology has lessened the fortitude required for migration. When a journey takes hours rather than months or years, and a return journey and communication is simple, the act of migration is less effective in filtering out “the best”.
Except of course the minority that are willing to risk their lives in leaky boats across the ocean. These people have some stones on them, I certainly couldn’t imagine myself doing that (but of course my ancestors were brought here in chains). They really, really are keen to be here. They certainly have more drive to contribute than a backpacker inspired by visions of lazy days on beaches or a student undertaking a diploma of attendance on their parent’s purse.
Maybe we should accept these people as the best.
There is a common perception of these people as jumping a queue. I have no idea where this queue is, or whom it’s inhabitants are. I assume they are meant to be doe eyed children in refugee camps, passively awaiting benevolent immigration officers. If these people exist, should we be allowing people whom are willing to be passive and await assistance. Surely these are the migrants whom would be “unemployed bludgers”. Why not take the self improvers who will “take our jobs” instead?
Of course this raises an awkward issue of allowing people smugglers to thrive and security issues (no matter how remote). This can be rectified by having our intelligence agencies to run smuggling operations. This would both produce ample revenue to government and allow them to conduct surveillance on something other than student groups and Australians with beards.
We thus have a natural selection method for “the best” determined by their actions rather than pieces of paper, and we deliver revenue to government rather than shonky operators.
Could this be the ideal immigration policy?