Thus, Australia is a nation of immigrants and has been enjoying a boom in new arrivals for the past decade to help meet labour shortages as a China-fuelled mining boom drove unemployment rates to 30-year lows. But nowadays six of Australia’s major trading partners are now in recession and economic growth has stalled. The country moved a step closer to recession this month with the first contraction in eight years and the economy shrinking by 0.5 per cent. Australia’s jobless rate spiked to 5.2 per cent from 4.8 per cent last month with the biggest impact felt by full-time workers. Some economists fear unemployment levels could go as high as 10 per cent.
So confronted with this problem Australia will cut its intake of migrants for the first time in a decade, the government said today, amid concern that skilled foreign workers could stoke resentment by taking jobs at a time of rising unemployment. With a recession looming and the centre-left government expecting unemployment to reach 7 per cent by mid-2010, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the intake of skilled migrants would be reduced by about 14 per cent.
Australia goes to the polls in late 2010 and immigration has been a charged issue in past polls, particularly following economic downturn.