As we approach the next election in Australia much of the political battleground will be dominated by immigration, the economy and employment. Indeed many of the political parties have already set out their particular stalls with regards to these issues with the main question being, does Australia need to reduce the number of immigrant workers?The Australian economyDespite the fact that time and time again many experts have tried to talk down the Australian economy, it is still going from strength to strength. While growth in 2013 is unlikely to match that seen in 2012 it will still be very favourable in terms of economic growth especially when compared to their European, North American and Far Eastern counterparts. The main question seems to revolve around unemployment although the fact that is at near record lows, around 5%, does appear on the surface to bode well for the future.Immigrant workersOne of the major issues which will dominate this election is the matter of immigrant workers who are being encouraged to apply for visas to work across Australia. The vast majority have been employed within the mining industry, as well as the resources sector in general, although there are also signs of more widespread employment opportunities across-the-board. Recent data suggest that more than 50% of new jobs in the mining sector over the last couple of years have been taken-up by skilled overseas workers.However, there is a growing opinion that the unions across Australia are perhaps a little blinkered with regards to immigrant workers and the knock-on effect they have on the overall economy.Consumer confidenceIt is easy to forget that the influx of overseas workers, skilled overseas workers, into the mining industry fills a very important gap in the skills profile of the country. Skilled overseas workers do play a major role in many of the large scale expansion plans announced by mining companies, and general resource companies, over the last few years. These expansion plans bring new consumers, new sources of funding and new demand across many areas Australia thereby having a knock-on effect on the overall employment market and the business arena.It is believed that every skilled overseas worker taking employment in Australia has helped to create up to 3 additional jobs, the vast majority which are taken up by the domestic workforce, in the general economy. The massive knock-on effect to consumer confidence, consumer spending and the economy are there for all to see therefore despite the doom and gloom headlines from many of the unions across Australia, immigrant workers do have a major role to play in the country and economy going forward.The history of AustraliaHistorically Australia has been one of the more popular stomping grounds for expats around the world with more and more skilled workers moving to the region. It is a country which has to all intents and purposes been built upon skilled overseas workers and the introduction of major international companies into the business arena. Many of the employment positions taken by overseas skilled workers in the resources sector are opportunities which have been ignored by many Australian workers who are sometimes unwilling or unable to move to some of the more desolate areas of the country where many of the mines are located.The fact is that the Australian economy has performed admirably since the turn of the century, it has outperformed its European counterparts for some time now and at this moment in time there is no need to switch off the flow of immigrant workers. This is an issue which will be picked apart, revamped, repackaged and influenced by party politics over the next six months or so. Immigrant workers will sometimes be targeted as unwanted and not required while at other times they will be heralded as one of the major reasons why the economy has performed so well of late.ConclusionIf the Australian government was to decide to switch off the immigrant worker tap at this moment in time there is no doubt that this would have a major impact upon economic performance. Many of the overseas skilled workers taking up positions in Australia are filling a void left by the skills gap and the unavailability of some in the Australian workforce. To suggest that each and every overseas skilled worker is taking jobs and money from the domestic Australian workforce is perhaps not as straightforward as some would have you believe.Australia has relied very heavily upon overseas skilled workers in years gone by, the economy has been better for the introduction of skilled workers from overseas and this is starting to be reflected in improved training for the domestic Australian workforce. If there was nobody to train up the apprentices for future skilled roles in the Australian economy, and in particular the mining industry, then where would this leave the government and the economy in the longer term?