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March 1996, Volume 3, Number 3

Immigration in Australian Elections

Australia's conservative opposition leader John Howard, who is making a bid to end Labor 13 years as head of government, pledged in February 1996 not to cut immigrant numbers if his coalition won the March 2 election. Howard lost his party's leadership in 1989, in part because of a 1987 speech that asserted "too many" Asian immigrants were coming to Australia.

Australia anticipates 83,000 immigrants in the year ending June 30, 1996. Over half of these immigrants are not from the UK, and an increasing percentage are from Asian countries. If elected, Howard promised to spend ($40 million) on English-language training and other programs to integrate immigrants.

Labor Party MP Graeme Campbell, who lost his party's endorsement due to his criticism of the government's policies on immigration, has threatened to run as an independent on an anti-immigrant platform in Australia's upcoming elections.

One Australian researcher says that Australians are beginning to see the economic impact of the migration policies, and that this will bring the issue of race to the forefront.

A group of 38 Chinese boat people who arrived in Australia as illegal immigrants have rejected an offer by the government to settle out of court. They will press ahead with their claim that they were held for 418 days longer than the 273-day limit for a decision to be made under the Migration Act. The Chinese boat people are demanding compensation.


Kalinga Seneviratne, "Labor MP to Run on Anti-Immigration Platform, Inter Press Service, January 9, 1996. "Chinese boat people seek compensation," UPI, January 9, 1996.