The Final Solution on Migration

Trumped “absolutely magnificent” by Bob Katter, the maiden speech of Queensland senator Fraser Anning has stirred the hearts and minds of Australians on the “problem” of migration.

For every problem there is a solution. In this case, Anning offers us “the final solution”. Suddenly, those hearts stirred are now in people’s mouths and stomachs turn; why is that eerie phrase stirring me so? Where have we heard that before? Why is that phrase unutterable, unforgettable, unforgiveable?

I hear my cynical reader say; it’s only political rhetoric, but it conjures up evils of the past that started in the same way. A passionate politician whose focus was, like Anning to have a “national identity” made up of people of the same racial background and discriminating against those of other religious backgrounds.

Comparisons between the Nazi rhetoric and that of Anning’s, are many. He says Gough Whitlam’s embrace of multiculturalism has “allowed the cultural conquest of our nation” and spooks us with  “an insidious silent revolution”, the question to what end looms ominously.

But before we start goose-stepping our way back to a darker day, Anning proposes less radical changes to immigration by drastically cutting our annual migrant intake and discriminating based on race.

Would the drastic cut be applied to student visas?  International students are predominately from China and contribute a huge amount to the Australian economy, not to mention to our universities, which rely on international student fee revenue.

Anning wants to ban Muslim migration. He claimed, “while all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims, so why would anyone want to bring more of them here?”

Following his logic, during the height of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), should Australia have banned immigration of all Catholics?

But enough on examining the logic of Anning’s speech. It’s time to look at our migration system and policies because the claim that we have unrestrained immigration is simply untrue.

Australian migration law is one of the most regulated, tightly controlled and ever-changing areas of law. It is subject to constant review and politicians like it because changes can be quickly implemented without the need for legislation to be passed. Likewise, the minister for home affairs Peter Dutton has huge, seemingly unfettered discretionary powers to grant or refuse visas (as evidenced by his recent intervention in the case of two au pairs – a story for another day!).

For those not deemed worthy of positive ministerial intervention, a rigorous migration policy and assessment gauntlet is thrown down. If a person wants to come to Australia temporarily or permanently, a visa is required and there are different classes of visas. There are strict eligibility criteria which must be met for any successful visa application.

All visa applications cost the applicant money payable to the government and this does not include any money paid to a migration agent to assist migrants in the convoluted and often complicated visa process.

All visa applicants are subject to health and character checks requiring amongst other things, criminal record checks. As an aside, it’s unlikely that Anning’s terrorists have clean criminal records.

No visa is easy to obtain, especially if you are from certain countries. So whilst Australia does not have a hard-line policy in place to discriminate against migrants from particular races or religions, in practice this appears to occur anyway.

Visa applications are often refused for failing to meet one of the Department’s requests for information or not understanding what documentation is required. Even for experienced migration agents, the myriad of ever-changing policy instructions and visa considerations are challenging to navigate.

For example, the Government’s retrospective changes announced mid last year removing over 200 jobs from the skilled shortage list meant many skilled visa holders could no longer stay in Australia.

Finally, if a visa application is refused, it remains a black mark on the applicant’s record and all subsequent visas will be difficult and in some circumstances, impossible to obtain. If you are refused a protection visa, you can forget getting a tourist visa to Australia for the foreseeable future.

I’m not sure what the final solution is to this alleged migration problem, or how our problem is any greater than any other country. What I do know is that Australia’s migration policy does not contain green lights for Muslim terrorists, and as anyone who has been involved will tell you, is far from easy!