A Contextual Analysis of Australian Immigration Policies


The demography of the Australian population has changed greatly since the end of the Second World War. The issue of immigration has been a major challenge for the Government, seeing the application of different policies by different political actors in an effort to find a long lasting solution. The Pacific solution adopted in 2001 by John Howard’s Government was aimed at turning away the asylum seekers whilst they were at sea. However, the policy was relaxed by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard Government in 2010 and 2013 respectively. The United States which is in the middle of the contemporary immigration, finds itself in a similar situation with Australia. The purpose of this research paper is to give a contextual analysis of the Australian immigration issues with a succinct contrast and comparison with the USA.

Keywords: policy, asylum seekers

A Contextual Analysis of Australian Immigration Policies

Immigration can be defined as the movement of people from one geographical region or country to another. Ideally, the primary reason for immigration can be categorized into political, economic and social; primarily the potential opportunities in a host country. Since the inception of Australia as a state, it saw the incessant intake of immigrants as a result of immigration policies that were adopted after the Second World War under the banner of populate or perish policy that was meant to counter-check the threat of communism and also the need for labour in its growing economy (Collins, 1988). Much contrast and comparison can be drawn from the American experience.

The famous Markus study, conducted in 2013, postulated that 42 per cent of Australians were of the view that the immigration porosity currently in place was very high; indicating that immigration issues in the Australian context is a sensitive issue that cannot be washed away. It should be noted that the population of both Australia and the United States of America can trace their roots back from Europe with an exception of the Aboriginal and the Red Indian people respectively. The white Australian policy was adopted to shield the country from unwanted immigrants including the colored people. The end goal being to keep Australia white (Collins, 1988).

The 1950 and 1970’s epoch saw Australia amending its Immigration Act, strucking down the reference to race in the substantive law; this was similar to the abolishment of discriminative quota in the American immigration law in 1965 per se. Americans are really concerned with the border they share with Mexico, similarly to the Australian citizens whose headache has been its coastline where  the Boatpeople have been making the journey from the middle east via Indonesia to Australia with the aid of smugglers. In the American context, hyphenated nationals such as African-Americans, Greek-Americans et cetera form part of its ethnic composition. However, they have been a resurgence of a new wave of immigration, characterized by immigrants from the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America.

Australia has adopted diverse policies meant to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. The notable ‘Pacific Solution’ employed by Prime Minister John Howard in 2001 saw the Boatpeople being turned away while at sea. In 2013 newly elected Tony Abbot adopted the sovereign Borders policy which used military ships to identify and turn back the Boatpeople to their country. The policy had a huge impact, where January 2014 was seen as the first and only month in a span of six years without the landing of the Boatpeople. The fruitful measures taken by Australian lawmakers is in total contrast to those of the American legislators.

The American Congress had passed a bill that would ensure its borders are secure and the provision of citizenship to illegal immigrants currently in the country. However the Republicans and the Democrats failed to agree on some stipulated provisions in the Bill. Although the Republicans are opposed to a holistic immigration reforms, they still would want to be elected in 2016, thus the Hispanic votes will be vital in their quest for power. Although its diplomatic relationship with Indonesia is bad, the Australian lawmakers are not bothered about how their immigration policies will be received on the other side.

In conclusion, since the Boatpeople mainly emanate from Muslim countries that exhibit extreme Jihadist characteristics and radicalization, the end result would probably be minority susceptibility to extremism and terrorism. This illustrated in the scenario of Sayed Ahmed Maksoud, an Egyptian asylum seeker who had past terrorist records. Other effects include complete welfare dependency, high crime rates and unemployment.

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