Globally, the process of migration is a complicated phenomenon involving huge numbers of people moving from one country to another to escape from unstable conditions and to seek better living conditions and opportunities1. Recent political upheavals have increased the number of those people who are seeking asylum in far off areas from their land 2. Since last two centuries, Australia has been shaped by immigrants. Immigration plays a key role in Australian population growth and economic development. The political trends have also impacted the country's immigration policy, especially in the last decade. This paper discusses these political trends and the fluctuations the Australian immigration policy has witnessed in the last ten years due to domestic political trends, multiculturalism policy, two-step immigration policies, the recent asylum seekers issue and globally increased security threats.
Overview of History of Migration trends
Initially, Australian immigration policy was open only to Britain and other “white people” and kept its doors closed for the rest of the world. However, the White Immigration Policy officially ended with the implementation of racial discrimination act, opening up immigration for the whole globe. In the meanwhile, the post-war immigration policy of Australia played a central role in increasing its demographic statistics3 Chinese Gold Rush also played an important part in changing the demographics and the policies of the Australian government4. Since last fifty years, Australian immigration policy is formed in a way to prefer skilled labour to become part of Australia and thus plays a constructive role in economic development. Since the white immigration policy has halted, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of Asian immigrants, increasing ethnic and cultural diversity in Australia. Multiculturalism5 has often been criticized by the past opponents of immigration considering it a security threat and probable cause of future instability in the country. Some critics argue that the policy of open immigration to all countries may threaten Australian democracy as well. Irrespective of the controversy attached to the notion of multiculturalism, the Australian society has witnessed increased diversity and, the government programs working under multiculturalism are probably to increase. The highest number of immigrants is from United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, and India. However, the recent immigration policy of Australia has become two step which results in the decline of the full-time employment of immigrants from various countries. Currently, Australian immigration policy is dominated by “stop the boats”6 view of policy makers, raising criticism from humanitarians.
Migration trends and its causes in the last one decade
The political trends in Australian immigration policy depict that since last ten years, political leaders have shown greater support for increased immigration which gave Australia the name - “Nation of immigrants”7. In 2007, when Labour party came into power, it increased the quota for immigration and demonstrated great support towards assimilation and absorption of the new settlers in the land. The former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd used the term “Big Australia” and stated that he supported international reports showing immigration trends8. Although opponents criticized Rudd's stance of Big Australia and argued that they wanted “a sustainable Australia, not a big Australia”, yet overall demographics showed that there has been a rise in the immigration statistics. Social analysts' demographic projection shows that there is a massive likelihood of an increase in the Australian population through immigration for the next fifty years. Such population growth requires keen public and private policies to be formed and implemented by the government agencies because conventional policies may not prove to be much effective in such circumstances.
1 Leloup, F. (1996). Migration, a complex phenomenon. International Journal of Anthropology, 11(2-4), 101115. Retrieved from http://link.springer.eom/article/10.1007%2FBF02441416#page-1
2 International Organization for Migration. (2011). World Migration Report 2011: Communicating Effectively about Migration. International Organization for Migration. Retrieved from http://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/wmr2011 english.pdf
3 Zabcic, R. M. (2014). The Phenomenon of Overseas Chain Migration to Australia. Croatia: Croatian Studies Review. P.142
4 Australian Government. (14, October 2015). Australian Government: History - colonial, conflict and modern - The Australian gold rush. Retrieved from http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn- gold-rush: http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-gold-rush
5 Moore, C. W., & Woodrow, P. J. (2010). Handbook of Global and Multicultural Negotiation. John Wiley & Sons.
6 McGregor, G. (2013). Australia passes the parcel and closes the door to desperate boat arrivals. Amnesty International.
7 Phillips, J., & Klapdor, M. (2010). Migration to Australia since federation: a guide to the statistics. Australia: Parliament ofAustralia: Department of Parliamentary Services. pp. 3-8
8 Crowe, D., & Callick, R. (2013, July 19). Kevin Rudd unveils 'hard-line' PNG solution for asylum-seekers. The Australian: National Affairs. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national- affairs/immigration/kevin-rudd-to-unveil-manus-island-expansion-plan-in-bid-to-stop-boats/story-fn9hm1gu- 1226681830019