Westfield co-founder and billionaire Sir Frank Lowy said Australia should embrace “ambitious” and “generous” immigration program.
In the Lowy Institute’s annual Lowy Lecture on Thursday night in Sydney, the businessman said the country should focus on immigration “targets” rather than “caps”, especially now that “our borders are secure”.
Lowy talked about his own past as an immigrant who fled Nazi persecution in Czechoslovakia and arrived in Australia in 1952.
“To imagine a better life for yourself and your family and to leave behind all that is familiar requires a special kind of courage,” he said.
“Australia needs more of that courage… We are focusing too much on the problems and forgetting about the opportunities of immigration. Let us learn from our history. Immigration has been great for Australia in the past. I believe it will be great for Australia in the future.”
Last year Australia recorded its lowest permanent migration level in a decade with about 162,000 permanent visa granted, compared with around 190,000 in the preceding four years.
Lowy also touched on the topic of Canberra’s relationship with the US and China. He said that the country’s allegiance should lie with the United States rather than the individual president.
“I regret that Mr. Trump does not see the great advantages that flow to America from its alliances and the global trading system,” said Lowy. He also urged Canberra to co-operate with Beijing without letting itself get dominated. “If you don’t look after your own interests, the person across the table certainly won’t.”