Date: 
Thursday 31 May 2012

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner has expressed disappointment at the tone of the debate about the government’s new Enterprise Migration Agreements.

“How labour market shortages are addressed is an important matter for the industry and for the government.” 

“However, we should be mature enough as a country to have the debate about how to deal with labour market shortages without resorting to prejudicial statements about workers from overseas countries,” Dr Szoke said.

The Commissioner’s comments follow reports today that the mining sector believes EMAs incite racist and xenophobic sentiments and could threaten ties with Asia as the Prime Minister defends her policy of putting Australian jobs first.

But Dr Helen Szoke said the issue of migrant workers should not get caught up in xenophobic and racist comments about foreign workers.

“It is important that no workers are discriminated against and this should be a baseline consideration in employing workers.”

“We are a country built on the work of people from all over the world and this debate must be looked at in that context,” Dr Szoke said.

Media contact: Julie Nehme 0417 957 525

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