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Scott Morrison

Immigration Program for People Who Come To Make Contribution

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison

BY SCOTT MORRISON, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

Address before the Ethnic Business Awards

Thank you very much Joseph my dear friend and to Angela it is tremendous to be here with you and your family here in the Ethnic Business Awards after 26 years.

To Margaret Abbott and to all my parliamentary colleagues who are here this evening, your Eminences, your Graces, your Excellencies, and most importantly those who are here tonight to celebrate another year of achievement of business in the ethnic community across Australia and in the broader Australian community.

It is a great privilege to be here at this very distinguished event and to be here in particular with my very good friend Joseph Assaf. I also want to say that the government, as previous governments have been, are pleased to support these awards here tonight and I acknowledge particularly Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who through the department of Social Services that is now the department that is driving our settlement services programme is pleased to support tonight’s event.

Australia is the most successful immigrant nation on earth and I say that with others in the room here tonight who may seek claim to this but I firmly believe this is the case.  More than half of our population are first or second generation migrants to Australia. More than half – for the first time at the 2011 census.

That is the trigger point, the threshold we crossed. More than half of this country has two of their parents or one of their parents born overseas or they themselves were born overseas.

The Scanlon Foundation and I think if we are going to acknowledge people tonight I think Peter Scanlon is one of those people. He is from the Migration Council of Australia and a tremendous philanthropist who has supported diversity and multiculturalism and immigration into this country over many years.

Just last week the Scanlon Foundation released a further report which brought together the work done by Monash University and it found that right now there is the greatest support for immigration in Australia since the mid-1970s.

It found the amount of Australians who have concerns about immigration levels being too high is at its lowest level since the 1970s, the lowest level since the 1970s.  This bares out other research that has been done by Newspoll and the Lowy Institute which shows 65 to 70 per cent of Australians are very supportive or supportive of Australia’s immigration programme.

Now you may think that you would expect to see those figures in Australia and we do and we should.  But that is not the case in other parts of the world.  In Europe those figures show that 60 per cent of their communities are opposed to the current levels of immigration in those countries.

In the United States and the United Kingdom the figures are over 70 per cent.  So we have something here that is quite precious in this country and that is the acknowledgement and success of an immigration programme that we can all be very, very proud of.  It is no accident that it has been that successful here in this country.

The economic engagement and participation of migrants who have come to Australia, not just since 1945 but since 1788, demonstrates I think something remarkable. This is an immigration programme that is an economic programme not a welfare programme.

It is a programme that is based on having integrity in that process. It is one that integrates the diversity that comes from immigration into our incredible nation. It is a programme that is based on people who have come to make a contribution to this country rather than seek one. Tonight I think we see that demonstrated no better than anywhere else.

Those who have come to this country have achieved remarkable things. When you look at the indices of Labour Force participation, educational attainment, particularly in second generation – the children of first generation migrants – it is not only at the mainstream standards of Australian society it is better.

It is better because of the investment that flows from the generations that migrants who have come to Australia flows on from one generation to the next.

But there is one figure that I think is particularly pertinent tonight and that is that more than one in six working migrants, that is people born overseas in this country, when they go to work they got to work for themselves. More than one in six. That is higher than the level across the general population in Australia.

There are some nationalities – amongst the Lebanese community it is more than double that. There are many other communities that also perform well in that context. I think that is very relevant tonight that we recognise the entrepreneurial nature of our migrant communities and their descendants here in Australia as we do this night.

Among this group in which we gather this evening we don’t gather together a group of victims, we gather together a group of people that have triumphed over the adversity they have faced in building the businesses they have built.

They have overcome loss, overcome disappointment. They have overcome prejudice and discrimination. They have not yielded to these forces, they have risen above them and they have triumphed.

One of the great successes of immigration in this country is that each wave of migrants who have come to this country have added layer, upon layer, upon layer to the national character and there is no greater character in this country than the one that rises above adversity, that triumphs over the circumstances which they face.

Whether on the ANZAC Cove of Gallipoli or out on that shop floor where you are trying to build a business, the ability to be able to rise over that is something that enables us to see the addition to the national character that ethnic business has made to this country.

So tonight we celebrate that. As a country we have yielded the dividend of your efforts and you have made us a stronger nation. Congratulations and best of luck to all the nominees tonight.