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"Australian wages stall, as immigration soars." Might things be changing at the ABC?

Australian Dick Smith, techie, environmentalist who founded National Geographic, and millionaire, has recently attempted to educate Australians about the wealthy population growth lobby in their country, which benefits from Australia's rapid immigration-fueled population growth whilst the rest of us pay the cost. To do this, he has run his own expensive campaing, including taking out expensive ads in newspapers. Among other things, Smith has decribed Australia's public media, the ABC, as biased in its failure to fairly report the costs of population growth. We on cannot help but be impressed at his community spirit. Are Dick Smith’s ads having an effect on population reporting further afield? Maybe. Here's an example of what we hope may be a new trend in truthful reporting on the matter by the ABC.

Usual ABC ideology

As everyone knows, migrants don’t take jobs they make jobs. Migrants provide employers with welcome additional labour, but somehow the usual laws of supply and demand do not apply here.

This increased supply of labour never reduces the value of labour. It never harms the negotiating position of workers seeking better wages and conditions, or their chance of getting a job. Only a nasty rather “racist” person could doubt these self-evident truths, which seem to be well known to all ABC journalists—or maybe it is simply a well known fact that you won’t survive in the ABC news area if you question these assumptions. Yet perhaps some of the ABC’s business reporters are getting tired of keeping up this pretence.

Is a chink of light creeping by the ABC censors after all?

On 22 December 2017 the ABC’s business reporter Carrington Clarke nonchalantly filed a piece titled, Australian wages stall, as immigration soars.

How can such heresy be allowed?

According to Clarke, the 1,000 extra people being added to our population every day doesn't necessarily make life any better for the people who live in the country and arguably, makes it a lot worse.

This are more people competing for jobs and housing, pushing down wages and pushing up property prices. Australia's population growth is extraordinarily high when compared to our global peers, at 1.6 per cent per year. This is more than double the rate of the US, nearly three times the rate of the UK, and four times the rate of France.
On current projections, Australia will hit 38 million people by 2050.

This high rate of population growth is driven mostly by high immigration. Net migration was 245,400 people over the past 12 months — which was a 27.1 per cent increase over the year before.
That's more than the total population of Hobart in new migrants coming to the country in a single year.

Huge supply of imported workers add to Australia's high unemployment rate

This is also a huge additional supply of workers (although a proportion would be children or the elderly). The simple economic rule of supply and demand means these new workers effectively lower the price of labour, which means lower wages.

(On that last statement, see Clarke’s article 2 days earlier with its subsections “Population growth distorting housing, labour markets”, and “Bigger pie, but more mouths eating from it”. Clarke quotes “Gareth Aird, Senior Economist at the Commonwealth Bank” saying “if you had a lower immigration rate at a time where there is spare capacity in the labour market that's not a bad thing.” Clarke concludes:

"The reason why many people feel that they haven't benefitted from the Australia's long stretch of economic expansion, is quite simply because they haven't. Their pay packets haven't gotten bigger while the costs of essential goods like shelter have risen. High migration makes it nearly impossible for Australia to fall into recession. The economy keeps getting bigger just because there are more people operating in it. It's great for business, because it keeps wages low and there's more people to buy stuff from them. It's great for governments because it means economic growth looks better than it otherwise would. But it isn't necessarily good for ordinary workers."

Now back to Clarke’s 22/12/2017 article. He continues:

"Australia is not currently anywhere near full employment. At 5.4 per cent unemployment, Australia is well above the US which is sitting at 4.1 per cent and the UK at 4.2 per cent.
There are currently 707,000 unemployed Australians. These are people currently looking for work. But that's only part of the story as there are currently about 1.1 million Australians who are 'underemployed'. These are people who are currently working (perhaps as little as one hour a week) but want to work more hours. So the number of Australians currently looking for more work is 1.8 million.

There is still a huge amount of 'slack' in the labour market which is keeping people from getting a decent pay rise. Companies are much less likely to offer big pay rises to workers if they know there's a big supply of other workers who are desperate for a job or more hours. . . . [The resulting ] economic 'growth' hasn't made a sizeable difference to the amount of Australians unemployed and has left us with the worst wages growth since the 1960s.

Companies are benefiting from this huge increase in workers and consumers. New migrants buy more things, which helps keep the tills ringing. And new migrants also mean more potential workers, which keeps wages down. This can be seen in the most recent profit figures, with companies experiencing a 27 per cent increase in profits in a year while workers received less than 2 per cent in wage increases. With 1.8 million people out of work or looking for more hours and 250,000 new migrants moving to the country each year, there's very little incentive for bosses to give workers a big rise.

Which is why, despite '1,000 new jobs a day', workers are getting a raw deal."


"The ABS figures show a marked increase in net overseas migration arrivals, with the numbers increasing by 11.5 per cent or 56,900 people between July 2016 and July 2017 to reach 552,900 ­arrivals. Over the same period, migration departures rose 1.5 per cent to 307,500. The figures also showed Australia’s total population grew by 388,100 people, or 1.6 per cent, to reach 24.6 million by the end of June this year.