Shell lashes out on immigration debate as “hysterical”

Published at Aug 5, 2016, in Features

Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith has lashed out at the “hysterical” immigration debate – linking an increase in immigration to the development of Australia’s north.

Speaking at a Melbourne Mining Club function yesterday, Smith said that the resources industry had failed “to advocate for an immigration program that will provide the economic stimulus to a sluggish economy.”

He prefaced his remarks by saying it was not a comment on 457 immigration – but said Australia must increase its pool of immigrants if it is to realise the potential of Australia’s northern region.

“As we strive for a more prosperous Australia, we must increase immigration levels and grow population in other areas of the nation,” Smith said. “We must look to the economic potential of our regions and our regional centres.”

He said despite the benefits of increase immigration being self-evident to a sector which has struggled to attract sufficient numbers of workers to regional areas – the industry had failed to publicly advocate for increased immigration to counter “concerning” rhetoric.

“We will keep on participating in that debate and I hope by doing that it will make it okay for other people to do so as well,” Smith said.

“It is important that we keep on growing the population and we increasingly hear concerning advocacy about immigration.”

He said the sector had shied away from the debate as it was a “politicised” debate, but said he hoped Shell’s entry would encourage other companies in the sector to contribute.

Smith said the potential of northern Australia could only be met with an increased focus on immigration.

“We will only unlock this potential, and its economic dividend, if we are able to bypass populist protectionist voices on immigration policy, and grow our population.”

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