Let Independent Arbiter Decide Immigration Levels, Says Flannery

Let independent arbiter decide immigration levels, says Flannery

Sydney Morning Herald
November 11, 2009

AUSTRALIA'S immigration intake should be reviewed and an independent board, similar to the Reserve Bank, should be established to set immigration policy, says a former Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery.

''Immigration has always been a tool of economic policy, economic development, or else it has been set as a result of scare campaigns by people who don't like foreigners,'' he said.

There had been no estimation of the rate of immigration that allows for the protection of the environment, he said, but immigration was ''far too important to be left to government''.

''Government will always want more taxpayers, and business will always want more customers – so put them together and you'll get a recipe for endless population growth.''

Mr Flannery said a body completely independent of government, one that could not be bullied, should be in charge of immigration.

''Just like the Reserve Bank, it would set [the level of immigration] in the interest of the nation.''

He said the independent committee should have a proper charter ''just like the Reserve Bank or just like the electoral commission''. ''A full justification would have to go with each annual intake, exactly why from an environmental perspective, social and economic – done transparently,'' he said.