The 2006/07 migration program has 144,000 regular migrants and 13,000 humanitarian migrants - both rates are at record high levels - much higher than under Labor. Is it wrong to want people with skills who will make good citizens?
This rate might seem high, but Australia has a capacity for it to be much higher(1). Talk of skills and citizenship potential is a pointless diversion. Migrants and refugees select themselves quite well. Refugees from anywhere are often skilled. What is the point of a trained accountant when he becomes dispossessed because of war? Let more refugees in and let our flexible job market (and world best help programs here) sort it out. Labour moves to where it is needed in Australia, and short-term training fills many skills gaps quite nicely. It is pointless to dwell on importing skills of which there is a world-wide shortage. Rely on the flexibility and mobility of labour here to do the best we can with what we have got (and are getting). More important than new entrants showing citizenship skills, is Australia demonstrating that it is an excellent world citizen. Increasing refugee intake is a win-win in this case. Refugees bring a range of (fairly random) skill-sets which are lapped up by the businesses that require that - even if what is required is keen unskilled workers. It is the less keen that are unemployed in Australia. At the same time, on the international stage, we are shown to be model world citizens if we are progressive and generous in our quota of refugees.
(1) It appears 144k is about 10% more than the previous year. 13k refugees is about 20-30% increase. These increases were made quietly and in a bipartisan fashion. No attempt by either party has been made to advertise or attack this gradual policy shift. The public only needs to continue to give "permission" to the governments to increase these quotas, such as not to tempt them to partisanise the issue.