15 September 2011

We need a real debate on how big we want to be 20th July 2010

WHEN Kevin Rudd last October embraced a big Australia, Labor’s focus groups went ballistic as voters registered their fears. Nine months later, both political parties have so absorbed that message they are falling over themselves in the rush to close the door on immigration. Not that either side is offering a precise target or an annual immigration intake. The government has deferred policy to Minister for Sustainable Population Tony Burke, who is to come up with a plan next year. The Coalition has done better: it says its expanded Productivity and Sustainability Commission will help set broad population bands and that intakes will have to be cut in some years. But we are not having the debate we should be having — about how to plan for growth, about infrastructure and about cultural integration.
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