Immigration and trade are key to economy – Treasurer

Embracing immigration and trade will help grow the Australian economy and ensure prosperity for future generations, according to Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney today, Mr Morrison warned Australia could not hide from a changing international economic environment. Banning foreign investment, trade and immigration would cut Australia off from the primary sources of prosperity the country had enjoyed for more than two centuries, he said.

Mr Morrison also said there was a new generation of young Australians who had grown up without knowing recession and our national debt was growing at $1.4 billion, in gross terms, every week.

“Foreign investment, trade and immigration creates jobs, boosts wages, drives growth, increases living standards and always has,” he said.

Mr Morrison acknowledged there was a growing anti-immigration sentiment in Australia and said the Federal Government was planning to address it.

He also said Australia’s immigration policies had a strong economic focus and choosing migrants based on their sustainability made Australia’s immigration program one of the best in the world.

“We will continue to pursue immigration, trade and foreign investment policies that are focused on the national interest, by focusing on how Australians can participate and benefit from a growing economy,” he said.

Mr Morrison said it was crucial to get expenditure back under control and making the banking and financial system stronger was a key priority.

He also acknowledged concerns about Chinese investment in WA agriculture, but said foreign investment was important for agricultural businesses that had not attracted domestic investors.

The Treasurer used the address to announce a new unit would be formed within the Australian Taxation Office to review foreign investment in infrastructure and real estate to ensure there would be consequences for foreign investors who attempted to move offshore to avoid paying tax.