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Australia's Immigration Policy could learn from a Mackay Regional Model

This article originated as a comment to the article "Exposing Queensland Government population growth duplicity" of 1 Apr&nbsp09.

Australia's unsustainable reactive policy of coping with immigration is failing Australians, Australia's environment and Australia's cultural way of life.

The naive open flood gate policy does just that - floods thousands of new people onto an existing society, existing land use, existing resources, existing infrastructure and existing services. The federal policy has no sense of ownership of the impacts of immigration, it just issues the visas, savours its sense of international cred, but handballs the consequential problems to states, who don't know what's hit em.

Something has to crack. Sydney has cracked in many ways - housing affordability is shot, rail is rundown and overcongested, roads are at gridlock, health is technically insolvent, and every state government service is overstretched. Then we see the Cronulla riots and the drive by ethic shootings in Sydney's outer south west. Ethnic ghettos plague Sydney and the cost of crime and NSW jails has further burdened the community.

The problem is the skin deep immigration policy and the systemic absence of population planning. The Australian federal government or decades has been internationally irresponsible both to its existing population mix but also to new arrivals. Neither deserve its institutional neglect and the Australian government must be internationally held to account. It's time for an holistic total lifecycle approach that looks at all the needs, costs, issues and desired outcomes of immigration on Australia's society.

Clearly the Sydney ghetto model is a recipe for civil unrest.
So perhaps a best practice approach should involve taking a look at one of Australia's existing examples of a healthy regional community model in Australia in toto. Identify the region's use and needs in terms of its land use, resources, infrastructure and services. Fully cost those for that region and then apportion this to the healthly population size that region supports.

Let's suggest the Mackay Region in North Queensland. Go to the website:

www.mackayregion.com/rtn2/index.cfm?BA14AED7-A13A-3282-ABDD-0D8C8B170794

"The region as a whole, is home to 143,000 friendly and welcoming people and the relaxed tropical city of Mackay has a population in excess of 80,000. It is no wonder the region can offer such an abundant range of services and facilities. Our vibrant developing community can proudly boast being a City where people can pursue a wide range of interests and lifestyles in a secure environment."

OK, so let's assume this is as good as an Australian region gets. So let's evaluate this as a regional population standard. Then for every 143,000 immigrants into Australia, the equivalent full complement of community landscape, resources, infrastructure and services that blesses the Mackay Region is made available and constructed up front by the federal government. No compromise.

Perhaps the federal Government will then start to wake up to the true holistic cost of integrated immigration.

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Comments

Tigerquoll, this is a fantastic idea.

However your words,

"(The federal Government) just issues the visas, savours its sense of international cred, but handballs the consequential problems to states, who don't know what's hit em"

... may unintentionally imply that state Governments, particularly Queensland and Victoria do not, themselves, actively clamour for immigrants in spite of the serious problems that immigration causes as you have pointed out.

Peter Beattie, Queensland Premier until 2008 and Anna Bligh his successor have been playing a game with the Queensland public of bringing about Queensland's population growth, but avoiding the political consequences of having done so. This is partially explored in my article "Exposing Queensland Government population growth duplicity" of 1 Apr 09.

One way, Beattie achieved this was to publicly take a number of different, and mutually contradictory, stances on population growth. On some occasions he would simply say that population growth was nothing but wonderful (see, for example, Queensland Government advertisement of 8 Dec 05).

On other occasions he would act like a a kind of welcoming good-natured host for Queensland's of interstate arrivals, although one working his hardest to stay ahead of the challenges that he had not sought himself.

On yet other occasions, he would attempt to evade political responsibility for long hospital waiting lists, under-resourced schools, traffic congestion, electricity blackouts, the water crisis by correctly (up to a point) pointing outing out that they were caused by population growth. (In reality his own astonishingly inept handling of his responsibilities seriously compounded the problems caused by population growth. Ex-Labor MP Cate Molloy has provided evidence of his complete failure to do anything about the looming water crisis until it was almost too late as just one example.)

So, in fact, state governments are not the wholly innocent victims of Rudd's reckless program of high immigration.

Many in the third world have better served by corrupt dictators than the people of Australia are now being served by its state and federal leaders.