In electorates such as that of Opposition spokesperson Sharman Stone, Nationals MPs Kay Hulls and John Forrest, asylum seekers are critical to economic growth. Just as the Californian agricultural sector would collapse if Latinos were not able to penetrate the porous border between the US and Mexico, many fruit- and vegetable-growing businesses in the Riverina of southern New South Wales, along the Murray in Victoria and in the Goulburn Valley around Shepparton, would also struggle to survive if it were not for the availability of an Afghan, Iraqi and now Sri Lankan labour market pool.
As western European economies have found out over the past decade, asylum seekers risking their lives on leaky boats and enduring intolerably harsh conditions in makeshift camps, are a vital ingredient in the supply of labour. The point is, as capital and goods move around the world freely in this era of globalisation, so must labour.
The most celebrated illustration of the necessity of Australia’s need for a steady flow of asylum seekers in recent years has been the Young abattoir in New South Wales. The abattoir’s owners were, in 2001, facing economic ruin because they could not get labour. They recruited 90 Afghan refugees and the abattoir is still in business. A Sydney University study, published in 2003, found that "apart from the $2.5 million added to the local economy through the employment of the asylum seekers, there's been nearly a $2 million fiscal benefit to the national economy," because the abattoir was able to continue processing meat.