"The door to Australia is closing" says Nick McKim of the Australian Greens. Many people reading this might be alarmed, wondering how their relatives overseas can visit them in future. But no, this heading is misleading. It is only the little door at which asylum seekers arriving by boat appear. The big door to Australia is still wide open for others.
"The Door to Australia is closing. Breaking: Early yesterday Malcolm Turnbull stood in front of the press and announced new policy that would impose a lifetime ban for asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat. Senator Hanson immediately stated her full support. We have less than a week to prevent this heinous policy from being implemented by convincing Labor and the cross-bench to oppose it – but we need you to stand with us."
Thus Nick McKim of The Greens communicated with his friends and members of the Greens Party in Australia.
McKim refers to the latest draconian proposed policy from the Federal Government. I suspect this announcement is in advance of a further increase in Australia's very large economic migration numbers of which the Australian public appear to be unaware. This was John Howard’s ploy when he virtually doubled the NON- refugee immigration program during his term as Prime Minister. Paraphrasing Howard's own words, he figured that the Australian public would accept high immigration if they believed that the borders of the country were secure. A hard line on asylum seekers, and intense interest and reporting by the media sent Howard's message unmediated straight to the Australian people. Measured debate on immigration and population, even by environmentalists for whom population is critical, was well and truly highjacked by the asylum seeker issue.
This highjacked debate has been an ongoing thorn in the side of environmental scientists and other concerned people. It has captured the energies of activists for well over over a decade. Those involved in refugee activism are on the whole socially aware and politically engaged people who might have otherwise concerned themselves with the effects of population pressures on democracy and their own environments.
Asylum seekers used as wedge politics
Australia has reached the stage now where those who put the asylum seeker issue as first priority will hardly engage with those who are environment and population focused. Successive governments have made rational discussion about Australia’s population all but impossible by driving this cruel wedge right through the rest of us. Educated discourse both in the private and public domains has been strangled. The Australian public has been manipulated by government and the press. The victims of these narrowly defined polemics are the asylum seekers and the Australian public whose freedom of speech and determination of their future have been stolen.
The major parties sustain this confusion to their audiences whilst maintaining the hard line on asylum seekers arriving by boat. The Australian Greens who do take up the asylum seeker issue, in opposition to the other two major parties, have done nothing to help educate the Australian people. They should have told the Australian public how it is being duped and that, far from the door to Australia closing, only a small door is being slammed shut, whilst huge gates have been thrust wide open, admitting completely unprecedented numbers into the country.
The population is growing so fast that net overseas migration (the total numbers arriving minus the total numbers leaving) is now making up more than half of Australia’s population growth! (See graph, "Components of population growth Australia 1990-2015").
Do you know what the economic migration numbers are?
On ABC’s Q and A 17th October 2016, One of the panelists, lawyer and asylum seeker advocate Shen Narayanasamy “exposed” the deception that our politicians and media perpetuate, a clever blurring of the issues of immigration in total and the virtually insignificant numbers of unfortunate people who arrive by boat, seeking asylum but who make up 90% of the national discourse on immigration. She revealed that 800,000 overseas visa holders enter Australia every year, a figure (including visas issued under categories such as family reunion, skilled workers, a special eligibility category, student visas, 457 temporary workers visas and 417 working holiday visas) that totally dwarfs the figures for Australia's humanitarian intake and the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat . Ms. Narayanasamy said “.... I think there is an alternative because when you understand that we take 800,000 people a year and we have done so since Prime Minister John Howard, the highest intake in history, it’s because we know it turbo-charges our economy and contributes to our society.” 1 Of course the number was not news to those who take an interest and research the facts, but it was important that this person revealed this stark fact to the poorly informed general public on a popular television program .
While 1,469 once 'boat people', now mostly meeting the criteria of refugees, have awaited their fate on Manus Island and and Nauru , approximately 800,000 other kinds of immigrants arrive in Australia each year in the form of hairdressing, business, and other students, investors, families, 457 workers, bakers, cooks, labourers, mines workers, backpackers, foreign doctors, nurses, accountants, town planners, sundry religious leaders, millionaires, billionaires, with few questions asked. Most would pay far less for their passage than any asylum seekers arriving clandestinely by boat, with or without real or fake passports. Around 12,000 humanitarian applicants are admitted each year.
Eight hundred thousand (800,000) is almost one fifth (1/5th) of fast growing Melbourne's current population, whilst the total number of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru equates more to the population of a couple of small villages villages https://www.humanrights.gov.au/immigration-detention-statistics
That is how totally out of proportion the narrative is Australia.
It makes you wonder why the Greens don't simply encourage asylum-seekers to obtain false passports and apply to become foreign students in Australia and buy air tickets. It would be so much cheaper and far less life-threatening. No-one would probably notice since we already have many people who have overstayed their visas in Australia. We also encourage many who have obtained a qualification in this country to convert to permanent immigrant whilst onshore. Australia has so many overseas immigrants now that they contribute around sixty per cent of our total population growth.
Why aren't the Greens talking about these logistical problems?
The Australian Greens' exclusive focus on asylum seekers is just too convenient for the Liberal and Labor parties, because it keeps the public eye away from the explosion of immigration that is negatively affecting every aspect of our quality of life and cost of living, with the possible exception of variety in restaurants, for those who can afford them. Around 200,000 permanent immigrants and an uncapped number of temporary entrants (in the realm of 600,000 per annum) are overwhelming Australia's capacity to provide infrastructure, to protect our urban environment and it is devastating our natural environment. Dwindling numbers and extinctions of Australian native animals are the collateral damage of habitat lost to ever advancing additional freeways, tollways, and new suburbs. One cannot help but notice that the similarity between the approximate number of temporary migrants in Australia at any one time and the numbers for fluctuating local unemployment.
Desensitisation of the Australian public
For years professional population growth marketers and governments have worked to desensitise the Australian public to large numbers. For instance, I used to tell people that Melbourne would be 6 million by mid- century and people would tell me that I was exaggerating . Now they tell me it will be 7 million as though that is just normal. And the other day I read in the Financial Review that we are heading for 8 million!
Ms. Narayanasamy was of the opinion that we are coping so well with all these immigrants, whom she believes are 'turbo-charging' our economy, that we should take in even more. The reality is that the discipline of economics is so narrow that it is completely inadequate to frame the actual problem.
Erosion of democracy
How is it that someone living in Melbourne cannot be aware of the problems this high immigration is causing us? Democracy is being overturned simply to accommodate this influx and the rest of us badly. In Melbourne, an important example of how destructive this is for democracy is the greatly protested (but little reported and little investigated) changes to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT's) planning appeals rules. See articles re public dismay about VCAT changes. VCAT was created to provide the Victorian public with free access to appeal decisions on planning. It was intended that no-one would need a barrister to represent them at VCAT and that any resident might raise a planning objection. The rules have now changed, whereby it costs a fortune just to lodge a planning objection and community groups don't dare to attend the tribunal without a barrister. Even so, the rights of appeal have been constricted to superficialities. Local government no longer has the power to decide the size of its population by restricting subdivisions and refusing building permits. The state has taken over and the state is in the business of population growth and property development, encouraging people to migrate to Victoria, collecting the stamp duty from continuous housing construction to accommodate them, and passing laws to stop Victorians from protecting their quality of life by resisting over-development.
Other states seem to operate similarly.
What about the natural environment and natural resources and amenity?
Many believe that a population of 24 million is quite small for a continent as large but Australia is a very infertile, dry continent with erratic rainfall, unique, fragile ecosystems and a low human “carrying capacity”. We are pushing our environment beyond its limits, expecting it behave like places many times more fertile, such as Europe. It will never be Europe. We should love it for what it is. This worked for the original human custodians who lived here sustainably for a proven nearly 50 thousand years.
The Victorian State of the Environment Reports 2008 and 2013 showed that Victoria’s fragile environment, especially around our coasts and waterways is deteriorating through population pressure and it is clear from this that continued high population growth is environmentally irresponsible. Ultimately we humans depend on that environment. It does not look as though the next report due in 2018 is likely to show any improvements with an anticipated half a million added to Australia's population.
Victoria has an expensive desalination plant which will for the first time be put to use this summer even after very good winter rain as, according the Premier Daniel Andrews, the dams are not at a level to sustain the current population in Melbourne. The desal plant, estimated to cost taxpayers $20 billion was constructed over multiple objections. In another blow to democracy, the community group,Your Water Your Say, was bankrupted by court-costs and had to abandon its fight.
With such rapid and continuing population growth, ever more land is taken up by housing for the additional population. Established houses and gardens are being destroyed to accommodate more people and precious farm land on Melbourne's fringes is given over to housing development.
City traffic in Melbourne is now so bad that one always re considers a trip across town by car even outside peak times.
The demand for housing is so fierce that un-affordable housing is constantly featured in our media with the blame shifted to peripheral issues such as negative gearing or "empty nesters" preferring to remain in the family home rather than downsizing. (Negative gearing in property is really only a consequence of the level of population growth feeding demand. If the prices of houses were not constantly rising it would be pointless to purchase and negatively gear! See "Are the Greens on the right track with respect to negative gearing?")
Local politics and media are saturated with arguments over new roads and railway crossings, building projects to densify our suburbs, loss of trees, and pressure on both private and public land.
No end point
The prospect of ever more disruptive projects to cater for socially engineered rapid population growth is economically motivated. It benefits the few, dis-advantages the many and has absolutely no existential purpose or end point.