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Labor vs Liberal: Who to vote for if you’re a migrant or refugee...

Left: Labor shadow minister for Immigration and Border Protection Shayne Neumann; Right: Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman. (Photos: AAP)
Left: Shadow minister for Immigration and Border Protection Shayne Neumann; Right: Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman. (Photos: AAP)

Immigration has risen in the ranks of issues that Australian voters are most concerned about, jumping from the eighth to the sixth most common worry in the last three years, according to a recent Ipsos poll.

It’s a topic that can be divisive, and has been known to flare up as one that separates Labor and the Coalition, given they sit on markedly different sides of the fence.

Indeed, left-leaning voters want more immigrants, while right-leaning voters want fewer, according to ABC’s VoteCompass.

When it comes to migrants and refugee intake, these are the approaches the two major political parties have.

If Labor wins the election...

...Skilled migrants will be paid more, and it’ll be easier and cheaper to bring your parents over.

Labor has declared it has a “long-term” approach to the migration rate, but other than that, hasn’t announced their policy on migrants.

The opposition party has, however, made a number of promises to various visas, including putting an end to the 15,000 place cap on parent visas where Australian families have to choose which set of parents can visit.

Labor will instead introduce a ‘Long Stay Parent’ visa that allows families to bring both sets of parents out.

The cost of these visas will also drop: three-year visas that currently set you back $5,000 will cost $1,250, while the $10,000 price tag for a five-year via will come down to $2,500.

In December last year, Labor also announced it would increase the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold from $53,900 to $65,000 per year.

There’s one area that both parties seem to agree on: under a deal struck by Labor and the Coalition, migrants would need to wait up to four years before they can access welfare payments like Newstart or concession cards, the ABC reports.

...Australia will also welcome 8,250 more refugees a year under a Labor government.

Labor plans to increase the annual intake of refugees from 18,750 per year to 27,000, which was later revised to 32,000.

The additional 5,000 won’t cost the taxpayer as it will be funded through community groups, churches or local governments.

Figures from the Department of Finance put the cost of Labor’s refugee policy at $6.2 billion over 10 years, which Scott Morrison attacked as a “betrayal of priorities”. The same figures were dismissed by Labor as “false and overinflated”, according to SBS.

Labor’s also pledging $500 million to the UN’s High Commission for Refugees.

If the Liberal-National Coalition wins the election…

...There’ll be 30,000 less migrants a year.

As part of its Federal Budget unveiled in early April, the Government will cut the permanent migrant ceiling from 190,000 each year to 160,000.

That means a cumulative loss of 120,000 places in the four years between 2019-20 to 2022-23.

The Coalition has also pledged to pump $64.2 million into “social cohesion measures” aimed at helping migrants settle in Australia. The money will be used to create national community hubs, fund local sport grants, community language programs, as well as diversity and understanding initiatives.

However, concerns about detrimental economic impacts of cutting migration levels have been raised before.

When NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in October last year called for a “breather” in the state’s migration levels to be halved to 50,000 per year, figures showed the state economy would be $130 billion worse off for it.

...And we won’t be taking any more refugees than we already are.

On just about the opposite side of the fence to Labor, Scott Morrison announced in late April that the Coalition would freeze Australia’s current refugee intake that has been cut down to 18,750 if it won the next election in a bid to ease congestion on major cities.

"We're freezing the immigration levels at the level we've reduced them to," Morrison told ABC radio on Sunday 28 April as reported on SBS.

“We make decisions about who comes here based on what’s in Australia’s interests,” Morrison said.

Refugees will also be encouraged to settle in regional areas rather than in Australia’s capital cities.

“We are telling where we’ll be taking migrants from, who they will be, the skills we want them to have, and working with regions to settle people in towns that want and need more workers, skills and students,” the prime minister said.

However, a UNSW academic has argued that the government should stem international tourism as well as migration levels if it really wants to ease pressure off Australia’s infrastructure.

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