The Labor and Liberal parties are at risk of losing the migrant vote in the upcoming federal election according to the Chairman of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), Pino Migliorino.

He called on both the major parties to show leadership and bring some balance back to the debate, saying both Labor and Liberal are treating new migrants as a problem and failing to acknowledge Australia as a multicultural nation.

“When we have the politicians kiss babies they’re all white,” he said.

“There’s a real feeling that we don’t count and there’s a real feeling that this is particularly playing on and stoking fears that people have, which in the main are unfounded,” he said. “None of the parties and neither of the leaders have acknowledged that we are a multicultural society; that immigration has actually been fundamental to how we’ve grown and the lifestyle we now have.”

Mr Migliorino said that issues like overcrowding and strained resources, which Labor leader Julia Gillard has identified as problematic, are planning issues and not a result of migration. “What is actually happening in the public debate is that we are getting people to think that it’s immigration which is the problem rather than the lack of infrastructure.” he said.

The focus on asylum seekers in the lead up to this election has disproportionately inflated the issue, according to Mr Migliorino, who called the response to asylum seeker boats “ridiculous”. “Overall less than one percent of anyone who comes to Australia in any given year; that’s what we’re talking about,” he said.

The FECCA chairperson said he is fed up with the scapegoating of multi-cultural Australians and is calling on both political parties to stop their fear mongering campaigns.