Multimillionaire immigrant Sir Frank Lowy wants Australia to have a much more ambitious and generous immigration program "now that our borders are secure."
The Slovak-born entrepreneur, whose Westfield business empire was sold this year to a $ 33 billion French real estate giant, says that Australia is focusing too much on the problems and neglecting the opportunities of immigration.
Making the country's immigration goal a limit to immigration was a movement in the wrong direction, he said when he presented the annual Lowy Institute Lowy Lecture in Sydney.
"We should bend that curve up," he said in a written copy of Thursday night's speech.
"Let me say that I accept that our country is right to take measures to prevent illegal immigration.
"But now that our borders are secure, I think we can afford to be ambitious in terms of immigration and generous with the refugees who go through the established processes."
Sir Frank acknowledged, however, that his way of thinking was now a minority.
A survey commissioned by the Lowy Institute, the Sydney-based study his family founded in 2003, suggests that 54 percent of Australians believe that immigration consumption is too high.
The annual Lowy conference was delivered in recent years by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, and the president of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch.
Sir Frank spoke on Thursday about his own history as an immigrant who arrived in Australia in 1952 and how he felt that the country considered him a future citizen from the beginning.
"The challenge now is to give newcomers the same sense of personal interest in this country," he said.
"Of course, newcomers should be grateful, but we do not need your gratitude, we need your hard work and your belief."
The 87-year-old man also urged Canberra to be firmer with Beijing.
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The man who led Westfield for half a century explained that he was not an expert on the communist nation, but that he "had some experience in the negotiations."
"My experience tells me that if you do not look after your own interests, the person on the other side of the table certainly will not," he said.
"Our interests lie in having a balanced region, with the United States actively engaged, in which Australia and other countries can make their own decisions independently.
"And we should be clear with Beijing about that."