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Both major Australian political parties favour a relatively high level of immigration.

After World War II, Australia launched a massive immigration program. The Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell promoted mass immigration with the slogan "populate or perish" and established the Federal Department of Immigration in 1945.

"Machinery of Government" changes following government reshuffles in the 21st century:

  • 26 November 2001 the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) and the Department of Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs merged to form the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).
  • 27 January 2006 the Indigenous Affairs responsibility moved to the now Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
  • 23 January 2007 the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs is renamed the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

DIMA and its successors were the centre of controversy from 2001 because it was primarily these departments that implemented the Australian governments policies of mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals and the Pacific Solution. The Department was also accused of mistreating asylum seekers at Australian immigration detention facilities.

The Rudd Labor government announced the end of Mandatory detention in Australia in July 2008, unless the asylum seeker is deemed to pose a risk to the wider community, such as those who have repeatedly breached their visa conditions or those who have security or health risks.

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