REGION VOTES: Our candidates' views on immigration debate
IT'S a hot topic ahead of every Federal Election and one of the most challenging issues any candidate has to consider.
The topic of immigration has been hotly debated over the years, with some believing Australia should be welcoming more immigrants and refugees, while others believe increasing immigration would be a strain on existing infrastructure and welcoming refugees is too much of a security risk.
We questioned the Hinkler and Wide Bay candidates about Australia's immigration policies and the issue of refugees.
This is what they had to say.
Joe Ellul, UAP
WE ARE a nation of immigrants.
My family moved here from Malta over 100 years ago and I am proud to say I am nearly as Australian as you can get.
We should stop our immigration until we have sorted out the congestion in our capital cities and have no Australians living on the streets.
When we have looked after our own people, then we can start to look after the rest of the world one family at a time.
There are people struggling all around the globe, I would like to see the majority of immigrants come from countries that have Christian values and beliefs so that they will integrate into our society. Immigrants that break the law to an extent that the punishment is a jail-able offence, should be sent back to the country of origin with no chance to return (as was the law 100 years ago to ensure integration).
Immigrants should become an asset to Australia and Australians so we can maintain our way of life.
That is what thousands of men and women gave their lives for, not another countries beliefs, values and standards the Australian way of life, our way of life.
Let's look after Australians first, then the rest of the world as quickly as we can afford.
David Norman, IND
WE NEED to set and monitor our immigration levels against the population needs of Australia and the current and predicted available infrastructure. Our intake of immigrants should not exceed a level that fulfils our skills requirement, financial limitations, or infrastructure that can easily cater for this increase in population.
I believe there is a concern by many Australians that by allowing too many immigrants and refugees into our country we will lose not only our long standing, unique Australian culture, also that we have created entire suburbs of a particular ethnicity.
I believe we must assess immigration based on the applicant's skills and abilities to contribute tangible value to our existing and future success and prosperity. Immigrants and refugees must pledge to assimilate into our cultural way of life and society and not expect that existing Australian citizens to change our culture, customs and laws to accommodate them.
I endorse a regulated, limited annual ceiling on refugees that request asylum in Australia based on genuine humanitarian reasons. Our border protection against illegal refugees is very important. Illegal entry must be prevented. All refugees need to be heavily vetted to prove they are genuine and not a risk to Australia or our citizens. They must agree to be settled in areas where work prospects are high and be not given permanent status until they have proved they have assimilated as a productive member of our society over a number of years.
Richard Pascoe, ALP
WE ARE committed to strong borders, turn-backs when safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement because we know it saves lives at sea.
But we also know Australians understand our nation can be strong on borders and still treat people humanely.
Nauru and Manus Island were set up as temporary regional processing centres but have become places of indefinite detention because of the failure of successive Liberal Governments to negotiate other third country resettlement options.
Keeping Australia's borders secure should never have meant leaving men, women and children to languish for years and years in indefinite detention, in sub-standard facilities and unacceptable conditions.
Labor has made it clear that, in government, we would accept New Zealand's offer with appropriate conditions, and negotiate other third country resettlement options as a priority.
Labor will keep the people smugglers out of business and maintain Australia's strong borders, ensuring they are never able to exploit the lives of vulnerable people again.
Labor believes Australia should do our part to address the global migration crisis and accept a responsible and sustainable number of genuine refugees for resettlement each year. In government, Labor has committed to progressively increasing Australia's humanitarian intake to 27,000 per year. We will work with international partners, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees through normal processes to accept individuals in demonstrated humanitarian need.
Support for community sponsorship of refugees has been growing in recent years - including community and faith based groups, who are raising funds and actively supporting the settlement and integration of refugees into the community and businesses supporting refugees by securing jobs for humanitarian entrants.
Moe Turaga, IND
IMMIGRATION is inevitable in Australia.
We are a country of immigrants or descendants of.
Why is it that we want to close the door on others who seek an opportunity here?
I understand the conservative view on terrorism threats and the fear it brings with it.
We have vetting systems now.
Families have build this nation on the blood and sweat of immigrants, especially in our area.
We have short memories when it comes to the back bone of this country let alone Hinkler.
Japan is far smaller then us in land mass and has 100million people living in it with modern technology far greater then our systems.
We should vet the refugees so they're not queue jumpers but I believe genuine refugee should be given an opportunity.
The problem we have is that with immigrants comes diversity.
The government we have doesn't communicate with us well regarding the immigration issue.
With the current problems in Victoria it brings to light how weak our government is when it comes to following through with its own policy.
If they create problems as a cultural group, let's send them back to their source countries.
People smugglers are human traffickers - let's condemn them under our law.
We need to open our immigration door a bit wider so we can attract doctors and the like to rural areas with their families.
Keith Pitt, LNP
THE migration program for 2019-20 has been reduced to 160,000 places and will encourage more new migrants to settle outside the big cities in regions that want more workers and skills and where there are jobs and services.
I've previously stated that I support regional migration where it's supported by the community, but I don't support it to areas of high regional unemployment. There are factors to consider such as if an area can cope with an increase in populations, as well as what support would be available for new migrants.
The Coalition Government fixed the mess that we inherited from Labor with more than 50,000 arrivals on illegal boats and 1200 deaths at sea.
We've stopped the boats, closed 19 detention centres and removed all children from detention. But we can't let this happen again.
Labor sided with the Greens and Independents to weaken offshore processing - one of the key pillars of Australia's border security, but the Coalition Government will continue to do all it can to ensure strong border protection.
Damian Huxham, PHON
I BELIEVE the current immigration rates are far too high.
We are almost two decades ahead of our projected forecast population and our infrastructure hasn't kept up.
Australia was built on immigration which has made it the great country it is but we need to put the brakes on immigration and let our infrastructure catch up.
I believe Australians should have a right to self determination in selecting who we choose to immigrate here.
Over 60 per cent of our population growth in the past decade has come from immigration and I see high rates of immigration as the source of other problems including unaffordable housing. I believe our immigration levels are far too high and I support zero net immigration.
I believe Australia has the right to choose the number and mix of migrants to ensure immigration is in the national interest of existing citizens because the interests of existing citizens should always come first.
Yes, we need to know who these people are, where they are from and if they pose any form of security risk to Australians before they are able to be resettled in Australia.
Australia should not be dictated to by the UN.
I, like many people I speak with agree that charity starts at home.
There is currently over 100,000 domestic homeless refugees in our country on any given night. We should be taking care of our homeless vets and youth living on the streets (sleeping rough) I believe we should be looking after them first before setting quotas on how many refugees we accept.
It is quite concerning Manus Island detainees are costing and have cost Australian tax payers $1million each per year.
The world knows an Australian Labor government means relaxed border controls, just look at what happened under the last Labor government, we saw tragic deaths at sea and tens of thousands of people claiming to be refugees attempt to reach our mainland, not to mention the 20,000 that were left to process after Labor hard been removed from government.
The majority of people I know voted Labor out of government to simply, 'stop the boats.'
I'm all for immigration however we have many Australians needing a hand up and that should be the priority of our elected representatives because 'charity starts at home.'
Aaron Erskine, FACNP
FRASER Anning's Conservative Nationals are supportive of all people who integrate and become Australian in their values no matter what skin colour or culture. We wish to reduce immigration intake for a number of reasons. These include pressure on infrastructure that currently cannot cope, pressure on youth obtaining employment opportunities and ensuring a future cohesive society.
Australia, our towns and our cities belong to us.
Not the government and certainly not foreign entities such as the United Nations.
We should choose who enters to live in our towns.
The current immigration policies ignore the government's primary role, that is to ensure our safety and security above all else. We need to stop immigration of people who do not integrate and harm Australians.
At various stages of my life I enjoyed close friendships with Maltese, Greek, Samoan and Indian people. Friendships I cherish to this day.
I have many extended family members that are of Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds.
Their families have integrated and complimented Australia and my family in general.
Not all immigration is compatible, not all immigration is safe.
To shut down this debate is to demonstrate a fear of reality and exposes ones inexperience with the very real changes that have occurred.
Australia needs to stop immigration from countries such as Sudan and also stop incompatible ideologies such as Islam from continuing to enter our country. Not one Australian life should be harmed or adversely affected by our immigration policy.
Our government's responsibility is to Australians.
Australia needs to debate this topic and take a plebiscite to the people.
Refuge is often available in many countries along their journey to Australia.
Unsettled illegal immigrants should be returned to the first safe nation they entered or to a country that's society most closely resembles their own.
We can look to Japan for leadership on this issue.
Japan advocates that its citizens and their interests come first.
We should not allow entry to any refugee that adversely affects the rights and welfare of any Australian.
Where there is a humanitarian need, where Australia is also the closest safe country then we should evaluate each need and crisis on its individual merit.
The notion that we should have a specific quota to fill is nonsense.
Are you concerned that people smugglers may again start attempting to bring people to Australia?
Under a Labor/Greens government. People smugglers will again take advantage of weak and incompetent leadership and profit at the expense and safety of economic illegal immigrants. This also comes at a great economic cost to Australians and jeopardises our safety.
Anne Jackson, GRN
IMMIGRANTS make an overwhelmingly positive contribution to our community.
We need a permanent migration program for refugees and migrants to Australia that prioritises family reunion and humanitarian entrants and facilitates migration or resettlement to Australia within a reasonable time.
I am concerned by how expensive and difficult it is for migrants to bring their family members to Australia, with some family reunion visa categories imposing a 30 to 50 year wait list.
We need to cut family reunion visa processing times and make them more affordable and accessible.
Our plan involves clearing the current parent visa backlog within three years and cap waiting times at 12 months thereafter.
We need to make contributory parent visas redundant and initiate a full review of all family reunion visa fees and charges to substantially reduce the costs.
Australia's offshore detention and transit centres on Manus Island and Nauru are places of misery, death and torture that destroy innocent people and are a stain on Australia's national conscience.
We need to end offshore detention and bring every person detained on Manus Island and Nauru to safety and freedom in Australia.
We need to have a more compassionate policy toward refugees, increase our humanitarian intake, end Temporary Protection Visas to meet our human rights obligations, and provide safe-haven for those who need it.
The Greens have a plan to offer more people a safe haven by increasing our annual humanitarian refugee intake from 18,750 to 50,000 places per year.
The Greens policy will continue Australia's regional efforts to prevent people smuggling operations from taking to water.
Amy Byrnes, AJP
FIRST, for refugees the Animal Justice Party advocates for kindness and believes we should help those who are forced to leave their homes due to war, genocide, breakdown of public order or a well-founded fear of persecution based on unlawful discrimination.
Australia has a moral and a legal obligation to comply with the international treaties we have ratified.
Refugees must not be prevented from accessing their rights as asylum seekers.
We also believe that citizens, journalists and NGOs must be able to observe the conditions provided for asylum seekers and displaced persons by this government and its agencies.
Second, for immigration the AJP supports needs-based and family re-union immigration.
Restrictions on immigration are to be applied without unfair discrimination.
Third, for population management the AJP advocates for a holistic approach that looks at immigration and national birth rates, which must be kept at or below replacement levels.
We must learn to live within our ecological limits and have a mature conversation about human overpopulation to manage our species' impact on the planet.
Tim Jerome, IND
I BELIEVE the immigration system is broken, it is not working.
I rang Peter Dutton's office to ask about what processes were in place to integrate new immigrants and new refugees.
His office's answer was they could not tell me and I should find out somewhere else.
When the Minister for Immigration and Home Affairs has no idea what is happening then something is seriously wrong.
I hate racial intolerance and if you have a faulty system that is not working then I believe we need a temporary freeze on immigration until we can fix this fixable problem.
Because this government and the one before it have made us financially bankrupt, it makes us unable to help a great number of true refugees.
I believe unless we can have a proper system of integrating new migrants and true refugees it will only cause upheaval in our already mismanaged government.
I believe those who do migrate here need to renounce their other nationality and become true Australians in our ways and values.
Llew O'Brien, LNP
I SUPPORT the Liberal and Nationals Government's cap on immigration, which is set following extensive consultation with state and territory governments, business and community groups and the wider public, to help achieve economic and social outcomes.
We need to ensure that our towns and communities have the jobs, services and infrastructure to look after and accommodate our own needs, and maintain our quality of life.
Recently, Labor voted to undermine offshore processing, and also opposed Temporary Protection Visas. This sends a dangerous signal to people smugglers, who are ready to exploit any weakness, and it puts our safe way of life at risk.
It shows Labor can't be trusted on border security.
The Liberal and Nationals Government takes great care in formulating its immigration policy to ensure Australia continues to be a vibrant society with strong economic growth. Community views, economic and labour force forecasts, international research, net overseas migration and economic and fiscal modelling are all taken into account.
I am concerned that when the last Labor government recklessly dismantled our strong and effective policies, it opened the doors to people-smugglers and resulted in at least 1200 deaths at sea and thousands of children languishing in detention.
Australia has a long history of welcoming refugees, and we have allocated 18,750 places in 2018-19 to the Refugee and Humanitarian Program to help people displaced as a result of conflict, persecution and human rights abuses.
It's vital to ensure we have strong borders and can verify that people coming here are genuine refugees who have been vetted to ensure they are not part of a terrorist organisation.
I believe genuine refugees should be settled in areas where jobs are available rather than areas with high unemployment.
I support a comprehensive approach to border security including: offshore processing; Temporary Protection Visas; and boat turnbacks when it is safe to do so. Each of these policies are necessary to protect our borders and deny people smugglers a product to sell.
The Australian Government cannot and must not compromise on strong border protection. After the last Labor government dismantled Australia's effective border security policies: over 50,000 people arrived on over 800 boats.
There were 1200 deaths at sea.
Over 8000 children were in detention. 17 detention centres needed to open.
Labor's border failures caused a cost blow out of $16billion.
The Australian Government needs to maintain a range of strong border policies so that we never revisit the horror of Labor's failures.
Jason Scanes, ALP
LABOR believes in strong borders, offshore processing, regional resettlement, and turn-backs when safe to do so because we know it saves lives at sea.
This is the policy Labor took to the last federal election and remains our policy.
Labor's resolve on this issue is absolute - the way to Australia through irregular means by boat is closed, and it will remain so under Labor.
Andrew Schebella, UAP
WE ARE facing a population bubble and several factors have contributed to our population explosion, but immigration intake is certainly one of them.
UAP supports allowing asylum seekers to buy a plane ticket to Australia and then for their claims to be processed quickly on arrival.
Asylum seekers would be held in facilities at major Australian airports.
It would be up to an asylum seeker to make their case that they are a genuine refugee.
If the applicant's claims are rejected then they will be flown home.
If they have a genuine claim, asylum seekers should have access to all aspects of our society and not be treated or made to feel like second-class citizens.
This approach would protect genuine refugees, deter economic migrants, save money and avoid the inhumanity of long-term mandatory detention at the same time.
This is an effective policy and will ensure that genuine asylum seekers can get safe passage here and take away the incentive of going to boat smugglers.
UAP does not support offshore processing of asylum seeker claims.