How much is a Koala worth? $600. We wish we were making this up but this is what you can pay per Koala to offset impacting their habitat. Where does the money go? Not to the animal rescuers who are picking up the pieces.
Australia's best environmental journalist Michael Dahlstrom (Yahoo) has today written something that pretty much shocked us. Property developers can pay money and absolve themselves of guilt. That money doesn't go to saving those animals. It's an "offset"
During the lock-down, the only outlet for many, possibly most people, has been a daily walk in the local park. These areas became, and still are, life savers for a population denied their normal physical and sporting outlets. The following letter was sent to The Age letters editor on April 29th but not published. It appears on the Protectors of Public Lands Face Book page.
The current health crisis in Australia as observed in Victoria has highlighted the essential nature of our parks and gardens for the health of our population, both physical and psychological. Melbourne's forefathers, particularly Governor La Trobe who gave us Royal Park had great vision in setting aside open space for nature and recreation, accessible to all.
It must be emphasised that it is the uncluttered open areas and nature which are of vital benefit to us with the current restrictions. All installed equipment such as playground, sporting and exercise equipment has been taped off and is out of bounds.
Moving through various parks at different times of the day in the last few weeks it can be seen that the space available in Melbourne for the present population is absolutely minimal to requirements. It is not possible to walk in many parks without coming too close to another person. Paths are full of pedestrian and in some cases cycle traffic. Joggers run past walkers almost physically coming in contact when in fact a greater distance is required when you are exercising more vigorously!
It is clear that our parks are at capacity. In normal times, there will not be the same heavy usage of these areas as people are at work, exercising in gyms or playing other sports but now that we have a crisis , our gratitude must go to people from the century before last and to those who in the meantime have defended these territories for our universal benefit.
Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria hopes that from now these areas will be even more highly valued by all authorities and that formal approaches to their responsibilities will in future more fully reflect this.
Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria
P.O. Box 197 Parkville 3152
On 27 March 2020, the AWU and Master Builders Australia jointly called on governments to ensure the continued operation of the building and construction industry, claiming that without it the economic knock-on effects would be devastating on a scale that would dwarf what we have seen to date.
There is no question that many dependencies on this very costly and demanding industry would cause more economic disruption, but what about safety with regard to COVID-19? Although the industry argues that it can be safe, we will argue that the industry is not suited to workers keeping safe distances. On the principle that a stitch in time saves nine, it would be better to shut down sooner rather than later because the later action is taken, the worse the grip of COVID-19 will be on the economy. Since the virus has caused the government to cease the mass migration that has driven huge expansion in the construction industry, demand has dropped, and now is the perfect time to massively curtail construction industry activity. In the meantime, will the industry take responsibility for the return home of the many temporary migrant construction workers from China and Indonesia who, unlike international cruise-ship passengers, are already onshore, virtually invisible, but numerous? And an industry worker argues that the industry is not capable of adapting to safe distance practice.
“The shutdown of the construction industry would jeopardise not just those employed directly, but the whole livelihoods of millions of Australians employed in precarious sectors like manufacturing. It would devastate nationally important industries in the building supply chain, like the $30 billion steel industry,” say the AWU and MBA.
This shows that we have become too dependent on this industry. It has an unhealthy hold on our economy, our political system, our politicians and political parties. This hold has destroyed business, industry and employment diversity in Australia, because agriculture and ordinary manufacturing cannot compete with the inflated profits of the rapidly metastasizing property development sector, which attracts finance away from other sectors.
The same industry has successfully lobbied decades for faster and faster population growth, via mass immigration, to drive demand for its product. Now the demand will dry up as immigration has been stopped, finally providing an interruption to property-development’s hold on our economy.
As well as importing customers, the industry has also exploited many temporary migrants, undermining immigration rules, safety, wages and other employment conditions. The industry may have profited, but prices have risen and standards have dropped, to the extent that buildings over three stories are now uninsurable.
The AWU and MBA argue that, “Forcing the industry’s closure would also blunt the impact of federal, state and territory government stimulus packages as infrastructure projects would immediately grind to a halt. Civil construction, in particular, must continue to build the nation and can do so safely given the nature of its sites.”
The cry of ‘nation-building’ has led to overdevelopment with disastrous drops in building standards and environmental amenity. Australians have suffered from constant upheaval and loss of democracy as government outsourced planning to developers. In the name of catering to unprecedented population growth, Australian cities, suburbs and regions have been taken out of the control of their residents, subjected to constant infrastructure expansion, road-building, traffic diversions, and destruction of loved environment.
The AWU and MBA’s line is: ”Indeed, the catastrophic threat of a construction shutdown means the whole construction industry has a civic duty to impress upon authorities it can operate while ensuring compliance with social distancing and hygiene requirements.”
How could anyone have confidence in an industry known for corrupting government at all levels, bullying, unaccountability, uninsurability, and lawlessness? This industry has seen thousands of Australians bankrupted and homeless. Multiple inquiries into its dysfunctionality have failed to reform it. It is time to stop dancing to the demands of this industry. Australia has been living beyond its means in an artificially and unreasonably accelerated growth period.
The AWU and MBA try to present a picture of reform and responsibility:
“That means everyone in the industry has to step up and be accountable. Construction companies and project managers must ensure that protocols at their site are enforced. Construction workers owe it to each other and their families to be responsible and do the right thing. This is only the only way the industry can continue working while reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
Unsafe: Safe distance mostly impossible in Construction industry
An industry worker, who prefers to remain anonymous, says:
“Practising safe distance at building sites for most activities is impossible.
It is generally not safe for one person to work alone in the industry. Usually construction sites involve many people in many activities simultaneously, crisscrossing each other in small and often confined spaces, sharing narrow temporary paths and causeways.
In multi-storey building construction, hoists are used to bring people to various floors. These hoists are always crammed with people. It is not affordable to take people (or loads) one at a time.
Concreters work closely together when they lay concrete, frequently in small areas. You might have one worker using a scrider, and two others using a shovel or a vibrator, not even half a meter from each other. You will often get four or five people a couple of meters square, due to the need to act together to carry out the work. It would be hard or impossible for one person to do such work alone. It would be uneconomical for less than four or five.
High-rise work employs huge crowds of skilled and unskilled workers. It is common in the construction of a multi-storey building to have 40 steel-fixers and 40 form-workers operating simultaneously on one floor.
The nature of the industry entails very basic conditions of hygiene and shelter. Disinfection and maintenance of disinfection in such areas, where many workers are coming and going, would require a large-scale dedicated team of cleaners and supervisors with the authority to stop and start work. It would be dangerous to have such teams present on building sites.
Construction sites are scenes of intense activity, with many people interacting on many processes, helping each other. The cost of construction means that things are done as quickly as possible.
When trucks are unloaded, you often have many labourers unloading next to each other.
It is rare for one person to work alone. Generally speaking, in this industry, safety requires workers to work in pairs or in larger groups.
People are often required to work in confined space and they then need another person to assist with tools and equipment, physically handing these from one person to the next.
Transport is often shared. People habitually organise to come and go to work in one vehicle because many jobs are not accessible by public transport.
Many temporary migrants are moved in and out of construction sites in busloads from densely shared accommodation. A large proportion are Chinese and Indonesian. They often do not speak or read any English, and certainly not enough to know how to protect themselves. They tend to be insecure in their employment and visa status and are not likely to exercise their rights to safety, if they know them. These workers are like a separate population on construction sites, with whom only basic communication is possible, usually via their own foreman.
Will the industry now take steps to finance these workers’ return home?”
The AWU and the MBA say in their press release:
”In times of crisis people look to unions, industry, and government to work together. We have to show we can not only slow the spread of COIVID-19 but ensure there's an economy left when the crisis is over.”
The problem is that unions and government have been working for industry and against democracy for too long. Let’s hope the AWU and the MBA, the Property Council of Australia and all the other corporate coercers who have been calling our tune start to adapt to reality for a change.
The high cost of accommodating population growth: "It is really undesirable that turning Seaford and Frankston into 'Transport hubs' is denying residents, and especially children, proper use of the amenities they have previously enjoyed."
18 August 2019
Letter to Frankston Council
Despite much of the land around Seaford station being increasing converted to car parking for train commuters, also the parking at Seaford North reserve is now entirely filled with commuting traffic.
I wish you to record my objection to this use of the Reserve parking, of which at least half should be timed so as to allow reserve users to use the car-park - which is the real purpose of that car park.
Children and their parents who use the reserve during the day and at the end of the day need to park in surrounding streets - creating problems there, and requiring parents with young kids, and often babies, to have walk considerable distances because of the commuters taking up all the car parks.
I know - as a former teacher - that schools used to use the reserve during the day - with many buses of kids using the car-park for sports days and parents also coming to park and watch for some or all of the day. That would not be possible now, and presumably the park is not used in this way anymore.
It is really undesirable that turning Seaford and Frankston into 'Transport hubs' is denying residents, and especially children, proper use of the amenities they have previously enjoyed.
I therefore ask if you could please consider making at least half of the car-parking at Seaford North Reserve available for park users only - a 6 hour limit on parking there would be sufficient for this.
"Not only is Geelong now effectively subsumed into the greater growth orbit of the Melbourne conurbation, but there are surprise population surges in some of the state’s remoter provincial cities and communities. I am so excited about this.” (Bernard Salt, "Victoria reimagined from basket case beginnings," The Australian 8 August 2019.)
In a News Limited piece whose title fails to take into account the original careful planning by Robert Hoddle for natural open space and avenues rather than choked alleys for Melbourne, Bernard Salt somewhat maniacally promotes the Federal and Victorian State Government's planned immigration innundation on disenfranchised Victorians.
“The previous set of state projections released in 2016 had Victoria rising to 7.7 million by 2031 whereas the latest iteration has upped this outlook to 8.1 million. That’s another 400,000 Victorians and another 200,000 houses or apartments that must be delivered during the 2020s. That’s important if you’re in the property game.”
Salt lists 15 local government areas with the biggest absolute increase in their 2021 populations according to the 2016 to 2019 projections, and says,
“This is important for big property players. It shows a significant shift in the demand for housing.”
Here’s the line I’d run: “Minister, we need to rezone more land to accommodate the population projections released by your own department.”
“The 2031 outlook for ¬Monash has been upped by 19,000 while for Whitehorse the upward revision is 14,000. More units, I would imagine. And maybe even a touch of high rise or perhaps a more vigorous application of the principles of suburban densification.”
The article also dooms Melton, Whittlesea and Hume to severe growth and Salt predicts that the ‘urban growth boundary’ will need to be pushed out: .
“I can only imagine that all this net additional growth is taking Melbourne’s footprint closer to the edge of the urban growth boundary.
He asks himself:
“I wonder if the really big property players are thinking about where this boundary might next be “adjusted” to accommodate a city not of the five million we have today, but of the eight million projected by mid-century?”
Of course Bernard Salt with KPMG has been a major driver and promoter of such population growth, frequently seen at the various confabs of the ‘big property players’, so this wondering seems very rhetorical.
He discloses the nature of population growth as a ‘burden’. Indeed, it is costing all of us more than money, although the “big property players” probably consider themselves adequately compensated and possibly above suffering from the destruction of community networks, natural spaces and freedom.
“I do think it’s important that the population burden being added to Victoria needs to be fairly distributed, with the inner city taking a higher proportion. It’s a bit like the progressive tax system where the rich pay a higher tax rate. In demographic planning, greater growth should be attached to localities culturally aligned to higher density, and that offer access to jobs and public transport.”
He describes the metastasies of the ghastly tumour that Melbourne is becoming with a pathogist’s delight:
“It’s in rural Victoria where the demographers have done their most riveting work. Yes, riveting. Not only is Geelong now effectively subsumed into the greater growth orbit of the Melbourne conurbation, but there are surprise population surges in some of the state’s remoter provincial cities and communities. I am so excited about this.”
Excited at the loss of control by residents of their city and citizens of their democracy? Excited at the rising costs of living, at water shortages, at pollution, at wildlife extinction?
I think that growthism is an addiction with consequences that cause enormous harm. Like war, which some also consider exciting, it needs to be recognized for the all consuming ill that it is, for the vast majority, with only a tiny few reaping the questionable benefits of cash and power over their increasingly beggared fellows.
Article by Sheila Newman, Demographer and Evolutionary Sociologist.
Did you know that you cannot insure buildings over three stories high in Australia? On Sunday 16 June apartment owners and renters were locked out of a 122 unit apartment tower called Mascot Towers, in Sydney. Due to serious structural weaknesses, residents were rendered treeless like so many koalas, and with little more assistance. In Melbourne on Sunday 23 June, residents and shop owners in a 237 apartment building known as "Liberty Tower" were told to leave because the flooding had cut power throughout the building and damaged the lift. Apparently the water rose to 1.5m in some parts of the basement.
Faulty towers Australia may require immigration shut-down
It seems that the Australian construction industry has become so unregulated, corrupt, incompetent, and uninsurable, that residents buy high-rise apartments at their own risk in Australia. The risks involved: huge financial loss and costs, homelessness, and injury, are themselves a reason to dramatically slow down development and the huge immigration levels that drive the reckless, 'self'-regulated construction that now characterises Australia. If Australian governments cannot make sure that high-rises are actually long-term viable and insurable as such, then developers should not be given permission to build them. That means that the mad schemes for population growth via mass immigration need to stop, pending significant changes in law and practice.
- Since construction companies often have short lives, a 25 year insurance policy should be purchased by the developer, upfront. It should be lodged as part of the final handover of the building to a government department. This would mean that the 'department' has the job of looking after the records and of paying out, and that the process would not be affected by change of ownership. The beneficiaries would be the apartment owners. It would be in the interests of the insurance company to ensure that the building is properly designed for a long life.
Probably all buildings should have this kind of insurance that benefits owners.
- That there is a need to employ architects and give them authority to approve the final product, since they are held responsible for its defects. Apparently at the moment the developer is deemed to be the 'consumer' and carries no responsibility. So, if the developer had to take out insurance for the rectification of defects, they would probably act more responsibly. It has been suggested that insurance companies should require a building professional to represent them onsite to ensure quality control before they give the developer insurance.
Until such changes are implemented, it seems to me that the 'program' for high density in Australian cities and suburbs needs to halt. Since this is the program that is supposed to retrofit a doubling of the population (and more, sky's the limit) in this country, the mass immigration of cities full of people needs to stop, because we simply won't be able to house them.
A case in point would be the proposed redevelopment with residential towers of the old Gas and Fuel Site known as Highett Gasworks. If the Victorian State Government has its way, and changes the height limit for the public land at 1136-1138 Nepean Highway, Highett to 26m, then the site will be doomed to be covered in uninsurable high-rises. As it is, any densification of this public land reduces the ratio of public open green space per person.
This is an incredibly good interview. If only the ABC had interviewers of this public interest standard. McLaren and Thomson seem to touch on almost everything in about 20 minutes, with appropriate emotion. We have so many problems caused by massive population growth.
Michael McLaren introduces the interview: "What are some of the really big issues that people around the country and around our cites are talking about? Water shortages particularly in the cities. Dam levels are heading down to 50% and falling Many are talking about record multi-billion dollar infrastructure spends, particularly by state governments that are increasingly heading towards debt; Certainly, in Sydney, many people are talking about shoddy, rapidly builtcrumbling, high-rise apartment towers, and more broadly, [...] the green elements of our society people are talking about increasing biodiversity loss. These diverse topics have in common unsustainable rapid population growth. These are all symptoms of that root cause, and yet, the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Australia's population growth is speeding up! In other words, all of those issues and more are only going to get worse." (Michael McLaren of Wake Up Australia 2GB radio) Michael McLaren is joined by Kelvin Thomson, former Federal Member for Wills now advisor for Sustainable Australia Party’s Clifford Hayes to discuss the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Australia’s population growth treadmill is speeding up. Figures released Friday for the end of December 2018 show that in 2018 Australia’s population increased by over 400,000 to pass 25 million. Net migration contributed around 250,000 of this increase while natural increase (births minus deaths) contributed around 150,000 of this figure.
Some of you may have heard a segment in 'Blueprint for Living' program last Saturday which dealt with water (identified as a finite resource) and in which population growth was mentioned but then went on to discuss several technical solutions and the economics of selling rural/agricultural water to cities where it could command a higher price. The issue of increased demand being within government control through limiting immigration was not discussed. As we have come to expect from the ABC, population growth was a given, an immutable fact. Accordingly I have made a complaint to the ABC as follows:
The segment complained about concerns [over] water supply. Jonathan Green interviewed Erin O'Donnell and Chris Chesterfield. While a growing population was identified along with water being a finite resource the program then dealt exclusively with technological 'solutions' to increasing demand and probably a worsening situation due to climate change).
Population growth is a policy direction for all our political parties. It is a deliberate political decision in which over 60% of population growth is due to very high immigration. Australia has one of the driest climates and one which is very likely to become drier. Water, a finite resource, is likely to become more limited even while government, opposition and The Greens pursue a policy which gives Australia one of the highest rates of population growth among OECD countries. But your program nowhere suggested that one of the directions that Australia could pursue in managing future water demand is to cut its immigration program and limit those policies which encourage Australians to have children. This is not to 'blame' migrants in any way for Australia's water problems; it is to blame the policy of high population growth pursued by our political parties. Prior to the last few years of the Howard Government Australia's immigration program was a great deal smaller. Returning to this smaller intake would help relieve not just a serious water shortage but a number of other infrastructure deficiencies as well.
I recently complained about a 'Breakfast' program dealing with water in which the interviewee mentioned population growth several times but in which Fran never took up the issue or discussed it.
Many of my colleagues join me in a view that the ABC has a persistent and pervasive bias against dealing with the issue of population growth as population growth relates to so many everyday issues. It is not sufficient to run an occasional program on population; population growth pervades so much of Australia's current life and future that it should also pervade the ABC programs which deal with a wide variety of important issues."
You can listen to the ABC program and write your own complaint. See the last line in my complaint and see why the latter is important.
Australian employer groups frequently claim that a strong ‘skilled’ migration program is required to overcome perceived labour shortages – a view that is shared by Australia’s state and federal governments. However, the available data does not support their assertions.
First, while Australia’s is said to run a ‘skilled’ migration program, the Productivity Commission’s (PC) 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report explicitly stated that around half of the skilled steam includes the family members of skilled migrants (secondary applicants), with around 70% of Australia’s total permanent migrant intake not actually considered ‘skilled’:
…within the skill stream, about half of the visas granted were for ‘secondary applicants’ — partners (who may or may not be skilled) and dependent children… Therefore, while the skill stream has increased relative to the family stream, family immigrants from the skill and family stream still make up about 70 per cent of the Migration Programme (figure 2.8)…
Primary applicants tend to have a better fiscal outcome than secondary applicants — the current system does not consider the age or skills of secondary applicants as part of the criteria for granting permanent skill visas…
Second, the Department of Jobs & Small Business produces an annual time-series tracking skills shortages across occupations, which shows that skills shortages across managerial and professional occupations were running well below the historical average and close to recessionary levels:
This matters because out of the 111,099 permanent visas handed out under the skilled stream in 2017-18, three-quarters were for professionals and managers, where skills shortages are largely non-existent, as shown above.
To add further insult to injury, the top five occupations granted visas under the skilled stream in 2017-18 were as follows:
Software Engineer (3112)
Registered Nurses (1561)
Developer Programmer (1487)
According to the Department of Jobs and Small Business’ list, not one of these professions was considered to be in shortage over the four years to 2017, whereas Software Engineer has never been deemed to be in shortage over the entire 31-year history of this series.
The situation is little better for Australia’s Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa system. According to the Department of Home Affairs, there were 34,450 primary visas granted in 2017-18, of which 25,620 (74%) were for professionals and managers; again where skills shortages are largely non-existent.
The failure of Australia’s so-called skilled migration program to alleviate genuine skills shortages is hardly surprising given almost any occupation is eligible, as the below list attests:
216 occupations are eligible for the Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)
673 occupations are eligible for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
212 occupations are eligible for the Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189), the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485), and the Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489)
427 occupations are eligible for the Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190)
504 occupations are eligible for the Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489)
508 occupations are eligible for the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).
The above lists do not require that these occupations are actually experiencing skills shortages, which means that these visas can be used by employers to access cheap foreign labour for an ulterior motive, including to avoid providing training and lowering wage costs.
Adding to the mess, the salary floor for TSS visas has been frozen at the pathetically low level of $53,900 since 2013-14, which is $32,700 below the average full-time Australian salary of $86,600 (which comprises both skilled and unskilled workers).
Given the above, it is not surprising that actual pay levels of ‘skilled’ migrants in Australia are abysmally low.
According to the ABS’ most recent Personal Income of Migrants survey, the median employee income of migrants under the skilled stream was just $55,443 in 2013-14.
Several surveys have similarly shown that most recently arrived skilled migrants are working in areas well below their reported skill level.
For example, analysis by the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI), based on 2016 Census data, revealed that most recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. arrived between 2011 and 2016) cannot find professional jobs. That is, only 24% of skilled migrants from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (who comprised 84% of the total skilled migrant intake) were employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of skilled migrants from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates.
APRI’s results were supported by a 2017 survey from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, which found that 53% of skilled migrants in Western Australia said they are working in lower skilled jobs than before they migrated to Australia.
With this detailed background in mind, it is interesting to read that the Morrison Government has announced reforms to Australia’s permanent residency points system in a bid to ensure it is better targeted towards skilled migrants. From SBS News:
In April this year, the immigration department announced some changes to the point system. These changes will come in effect from 16 November 2019.
According to the new rule, applicants who do not have a spouse or de facto partner will get 10 points.
“Points are awarded for attributes that are linked with the applicant’s ability to make the greatest economic contribution, as the key purpose of the skilled migration program is to maximize the economic benefits of migration to Australia,” the legislation reads…
“The idea is to bring more skilled migrants and discourage unskilled partners who come with married skilled migrants.
“Married invitees with kids fill more places with non-skilled migrants and leave lesser places for skilled migrants,” says [[Immigration Expert Rohan] Mohan.
The reforms are in response to the PC’s findings (above) that half of the skilled stream is taken up by family members of skilled migrants, many of whom are unskilled.
[Immigration Expert Rohan] Mohan says many of his clients are waiting for November.
“People have put their marriage on hold to claim these extra points. Earlier people would get married before applying to claim five extra points on behalf of their partners. Now we can see the opposite trend”…
Dilip Kumar, an Australian visa-hopeful says these extra points will help him in a big way.
‘My IELTS score is not very high, so I am counting on the extra points,’ says Dilip who is an auto mechanic in Karnataka and preparing his application for an Australian visa.
Education and Migration agents are also advising clients on Facebook on how to fill in forms to avoid scrutiny by the Department of Home Affairs:
This kind of visa system gaming is common among applicants from India’s Sub-continent, as explained by Melbourne Indian community leader Jasvinder Sidhu, who also acknowledged “widespread… corruption from top to bottom”, with “thousands and thousands of people… being sponsored and they’re all fake”:
JASVINDER SIDHU: These people just get away. Even if they’re caught, media or otherwise through police and thing, they just go on bail and I think the system is very, very easy on these sort of things.
NICK MCKENZIE: It’s easy to rort?
JASVINDER SIDHU: Yes, very easy to rort. You have 10 ways to rort and then if the Government has one rule, you have actually 10 responses how to basically bypass those rules.
NICK MCKENZIE: The Australian Border Force has spent the last 12 months investigating criminal syndicates involved in visa rorting, but insiders say the problem is massive. One of the Immigration Department’s top officials until 2013 has now broken his silence. He says visa rorting was and is endemic and has largely been ignored by politicians focusing on the boat people issue.
Joseph Petyanszki managed investigations for the department for eight years. He wouldn’t be interviewed on camera, but has given 7.30 a statement about what he calls, “The shocking and largely unknown fraud within our working and student visa programs”. He describes a world of “shonky immigration agents” where, “fraudsters …. enter the community with ease”. He points to immigration law “loopholes”, “major integrity problems” and a department which has struggled to cope with such an, “attack on the integrity of our systems”. Petyanszki blames a, “lack of funding and politics”. He says, “It’s been easy to deflect the public’s attention to boat arrivals,” but this fear-mongering has totally ignored, “where the vast bulk of real fraud is most significantly undermining our immigration programs”…
JASVINDER SIDHU: Yes, there’s corruption from top to bottom. Thousands and thousands of people are being sponsored and they’re all fake. The whole system cannot work that smoothly if there’s no corruption in the system.
NICK MCKENZIE: Someone on the inside has to know?
JASVINDER SIDHU: Oh, yes, definitely. Even if you do a bit of overspeeding, you are caught, but this is a huge corruption – huge level of corruption and it is so widespread.
Clearly, Australia’s skilled migration program is a giant fraud that is failing miserably to meet its original intent, lowering wages, crush-loading Sydney and Melbourne, and wrecking overall liveability.
It needs root-and-branch reform, not token changes like those announced above by the Morrison Government.
Overdevelopment and overpopulation in Australia wreck a lot of things, but some of you might not have thought about how they wreck art. The other day a very 'successful' Australian landscape artist, who sells his paintings for several thousand each, observed that thirty years ago he used to sell his paintings for an average of $3000 each and he still does. "Problem is," he observed, "My house, which cost $60,000 then, is now worth close to a million. Paintings have not gone up.
An alarmist headline? Not really. This judgement follows from an analysis of Labor’s proposed temporary visa for parents of existing migrants, entitled, a ‘Fairer Long stay parent visa for Australia’s migrant and multicultural communities’. The proposal was announced on 22 April, 2019.
Labor’s proposal is for an uncapped, low cost, temporary parent visa open to all migrant families who are citizens or are permanent residents. It will cost $2,500 for five years regardless of sponsors’ income or capacity to provide for their parents. All four parents in each household can be sponsored. The children eligible to sponsor their parents include all those who are permanent residents or citizens of Australia.
The visa will be renewable thus enabling parents to stay in Australia for ten years without having to leave. This means it is a de facto permanent entry visa since, as sponsors will know, it is highly unlikely that parents who have lived here for a decade will be required to return home.
Labor’s ‘temporary’ parent visa is an unprecedented offer. No other western country provides any similar parent visa. The trend across Western Europe is to tighten already stringent rules on parents’ access to obtain permanent residence status. The US, though it allows adult migrant children to sponsor their parents, has many hurdles, including that the sponsor must be a citizen and must meet financial capacity guidelines. Even Canada, the most overtly welcoming migration country in the west, has an annual cap of 17,000 on parent visas and, as with the US, sponsors must prove that they can meet stringent financial capacity criteria.
As we will see, Labor’s parent proposal dismantles all the careful rules successive Australian governments have, over thirty years, put in place to control parent migration. The door is now wide open for parent sponsorship. This is an especially attractive prospect of Australia’s more recently arrived Asian and Middle-Eastern communities. And here it should be noted that Australia’s Asian- born population (at just over 10 per cent) is higher than any other western country.
Australia is an enticing destination to migrants from Asia because of the large gulf between the political, social and cultural conditions here and in most Asia countries. Given that many immigrants would welcome in-house help with child care and that most Asians recognise obligations to care for their parents, the potential for Australia’s Asian and Middle-Eastern population to take up Labor’s offer is huge.
At present most permanent entry parent visas are from China, mainly because there is a balance of family rule in place. This requires that half or more of siblings are resident in Australia. Many readers will be aware that there is a waiting list of Chinese applicants for Australia’s existing permanent entry parent visa of near 100,000. They will likely take up Labor’s proposed temporary parent visa. However, many more Chinese will also become eligible. (These are people who don’t meet the present financial criteria for sponsorship, which are outlined below.)
The really big change in eligibility will come from Australia’s Indian subcontinent and Middle Eastern communities. They constitute a larger group of potential sponsors than the Chinese. Most do not currently meet the balance-of-family test or the financial requirements of the existing permanent entry parent visa.
Labor’s proposal will make then eligible to bring their parents to Australia. They will have at least as powerful a motive to avail themselves of this opportunity as the Chinese.
Labor’s proposal could easily generate at least 200,000 parent applications, mainly from Chinese, Indian subcontinent and Middle Eastern country residents of Australia, over a three-year period.
The number depends, of course, on how the visa is implemented. This is explored below. The information we have at this point on Labor’s proposal is that it will be open-ended.
To grasp the significance of Labor’s proposal it needs to be seen in the context of Australia’s present rules governing the issuance of permanent entry parent visas. There are two subclasses for parent visas in operation. One is a contributory parent visa where the parents have to pay some $43,600 as an upfront contribution to the likely public costs of their stay. In 2017-18 6,015 of these visas were issued. By June 2018 there was a backlog of applicants of 44,886. The other entry point is a non- contributory parent visa with much lower up-front fees. In 2017-18 1,356 of these visas were issued. For this non-contributory visa there was a backlog of 50,642 and a wait time of over thirty years.
In effect, together the current permanent-entry parent visas are capped at less than 8,000 a year.
Moreover, both permanent-entry parent visa subclasses are only available to pension-aged parents who can meet the balance of family test. This is why most of the parents visaed are from China – since most Chinese residents are from one, or at the most, two sibling families.
However, there is another parent visa option, soon to be available for those wishing to sponsor their parents. This is a temporary parent visa which the Coalition legislated in November 2018. Residents can apply from 17 April 2019 to establish their eligibility as sponsors of their parents.
There is an annual cap of 15,000 parents and accompanying dependent for this new visa. It is for five years, and will cost $10,000. There is a limit of one set of parents for each sponsoring household. To qualify as a sponsor, the Australian resident family’s annual taxable income must exceed $83,000. [Candobetter net Editor: Reference in full paper, see end of this article.]
The visa can be renewed, once, for another stay of up to five years, but the parents need to leave Australia before applying for this renewal.
There was no official statement of the likely number of applications at the time. However internal departmental sources indicate that the 15,000 annual quota is likely to be filled.
Labor’s temporary parent visa proposal was announced in response to the Coalition’s temporary- parent-visa legislation. In response to lobbying from migrant communities, the Coalition promised prior to the 2016 election that it would establish a new temporary visa for parents. As is evident, it took some time for the proposal to be legislated.
When the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, announced Labor’s proposed visa on 22 April 2019, he declared that the Coalition’s temporary parent visa option was ‘heartless, callous and cruel’. It was claimed that the Coalition’s visa was far stricter than originally promised, thus justifying Labor’s much more generous alternative.
As indicated, Labor’s initiative potentially opens the flood gates for parent migration. It appears to be a reckless and irresponsible policy bid put forward to garner migrant votes.
Did the Labor leaders consider the possible implications? It is doubtful that they did.
An impressive video that misses almost no aspect of what the growth lobby is doing to this country, and backs up its criticism with some interesting new policies, some of them drastic - but the situation is drastic. Matt Bryan for Hughes
I'm developing an unreasonable sense of proprietorship over Australia's island state,Tasmania. One could call it a "Tasmania mania", I suppose. How did this seemingly irrational neurosis arise? Am I alone?
About 15 years ago I realised that Victoria, where I live, was doomed to never-ending development, due to government insistence that we have incessant population growth, heavily supplemented from overseas immigration. You would wonder how an ordinary citizen could actually notice that the population was growing. Surely the changes would be happening in places where the people have not yet settled and would be out of sight and out of mind? To an extent, this was true for a while, and you had to go to the outskirts of Melbourne to see the sea of new rooftops on the side of highways trying to hide behind high walls. Those living in the "growth corridors" would complain of the massive changes in their local areas. They would moan in agony at the farmland and treasured bush land they could see being sacrificed for yet more suburbs. They tried to make us hear about what was happening and we listened but 15 years ago our established suburbs remained intact and our lives were relatively undisturbed so we were complacent.
In more recent years, a heavy foot has trodden on the accelerator of population growth and development. There seemed to be a spark of recognition from governments that Melbourne needed to be contained in some manner. The established suburbs were told they had to take their share of the population growth load. In came the bulldozers and, at a faster and faster rate, we all noticed empty blocks in our streets, and we struggled the very next day, post demolition, to remember what had been there the day before. Some of the demolitions got publicity. The gracious Victorian or Edwardian large houses or mansions, giving way to the wrecking ball after unsuccessful but valiant struggles by locals to preserve heritage and amenity, were and continue to be soon just large cavities. All vegetation is invariably removed, except for perhaps a token tree if not in the way of the giant yet to be constructed. Noise and the disruption of continual roadworks and infrastructure upgrades are now part our lives in Melbourne's suburbs. We live with short term uncertainty but long term resignation that our home environment will continue to be heavily degraded.
I think of not only the residents who are being inconvenienced and disadvantaged, but of the suburban wildlife - especially birds who will all but disappear. Once a large garden is excavated and transformed into a basement car park, that land is no longer a home for underground insects or flowering plants or trees. Habitat, in other words, is wiped out in an instant. "Birds can go somewhere else," they say. Well they can do this if there is somewhere else to go, but that means nevertheless that they are gone from the area. You will no longer get to hear them or see them. That is a huge loss that impoverishes your soul and those of your children, possibly before you can even put it into words.
I used to derive some comfort from the actual possibility that I can always move to Tasmania. I have visited Tasmania since my childhood as my grandparents and many cousins, uncles and aunts lived there. My family had a whole summer life-style there every year and so it was in a sense a second home. As a child I appreciated its quietness and beauty. Its sense of history, Hobart having been settled earlier than Melbourne, was reflected in many of its buildings. Tasmania, in reality, is not my home though. I have never lived there and I don't own any property there. But over the last 20 years it has been in the back of my mind as a possibility, an escape-hatch, as Melbourne's population surges towards 10 million (the same population of the whole of Australia when I was in primary school.)
For these reasons I feel a sense of alarm when I hear Tasmania mentioned in the news or on television or radio programs. I feel anxious, on the alert. What are they going to do? What are they going to change? I used to delight in the fact that whenever I returned to Tasmania, even in my adult years, it was always more or less the same; low key.
Yesterday I found my Tasmanian grandfather's 100+ year old scrap book. It provides an insight into life on that island at the time, through my grandfather's youthful passion for long-distance running. There are photos, newspaper clippings, and athletes programs about the many races and carnivals of the Hobart Harrier Club. The brown pages of the album are also filled out with images of relaxed beach goers and reunions of the old competitors 40 years later.
One album does not describe a whole lifestyle, but I could not help forming the impression that life was full and that those young men a century ago had made a life for themselves which was both physically and socially rewarding. This was in a small city in a state where the entire population of was only about 180,000"
My mother grew up in Hobart of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time her parents, as did many people in Hobart, owned a beach shack on the other side of the Derwent River to the city. She told me that she and her friends would catch a ferry to O'Possum Bay to stay on weekends. On arrival they would drop their bags at the house and proceed to the beach. If they saw anyone else on their chosen beach, they would move away around a point to another beach.
In the 1950s and 60s people in Hobart still had their beach shacks. My older cousins enjoyed sports such as surfing, water skiing, and sailing. I'm sure they worked hard at their weekday jobs or at school, but what I saw, was an easy accessibility to pastimes that would to most now seem like a luxury.
One of my cousins told me a few years ago that he would never move to Melbourne, as the 'lifestyle' wouldn't suit him. I found this amusing, as it seemed to me that no-one would actually choose the lifestyle on offer in Melbourne!
I wonder if the 'lifestyle' will suit him if the population of Hobart grows as the current premier intends it to.
Having spent the in Tasmania more than half a century ago, and hearing tales of the life there yet another 50 years before that, I feel I know the place a bit. I also know Melbourne very well and have watched it change from a rather quiet city, where you could get out easily into the country on the weekend just for an afternoon and where, if you could drive to a place, you could be pretty sure of being able to park your car there. You could be spontaneous about going places. All that has gone. Now, as often as not, I will hatch a plan involving travel in or around Melbourne, and then abandon the idea because of the uncertainties of traffic and parking.
I would like to keep alive the escape-hatch dream of simply moving to Hobart when Melbourne reaches complete bursting point. My anxiety levels rise when I hear of Hobart's fast growing population or when anyone puts it on the map for any reason. I heard this morning that MONA (Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart) was to be expanded further, and I felt sad. I like MONA but to me it is not Hobart, and why does it have to be bigger? Part of its attraction is the setting and, if it expands, more of the setting will be lost.
I would prefer not hear any news coming from Hobart. I want it to be quiet and unobtrusive and to just wait for me in case I need it.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released visitor arrivals and departures data for the month of January, which posted record annual permanent and long-term arrivals.
In the year to January 2019, there were 835,310 permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia – up 6% from January 2018 and an all-time high. This was partly offset by 546,310 permanent and long-term departures from Australia:
Put together, there were 289,000 net permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia in the year to January 2019, way above the 42-year average of 154,249:
While the ABS is at pains to state that “permanent and long-term movements… are not an appropriate source of migration statistics”, since they relate to the intention of passengers arriving, not actual outcomes (measured using the 12/16 rule), there is a strong correlation between this series and the ABS’ official quarterly net overseas migration (NOM) estimates:
Given the strong rise in net permanent and long-term arrivals over the second half of 2018, there’s a strong likelihood that ABS’ NOM estimate for September 2018 will jump when it is released on Thursday.
A very successful opening night of Tough Crowd last night with short filmed interviews all on the "sensitive" issue of population, included a performance by singer/ comedian Jude Perl. The event was hosted by its creator, Michael Bayliss, media officer for Sustainable Population Australia.
The venue, "Long Play" in alternative, fashionable North Fitzroy, inner Melbourne, provided a convivial space in which to hang out following the show, have a drink and chat with fellow audience members. There may be some spare seats for tonight. Check it put at ‘try booking' Tonight, the last night of two. The live attraction is Rod Quantock, who also features in the short films The event is part of the Sustainable Living Festival. I expect tonight to be as wonderful as last night.
Congratulations to Michael Bayliss who who is both the force behind the this event and the endearing host, uniting all its unique segments.
A recent interview of the Prime Minister by Leigh Sales in the 7.30 Report on Tuesday 29 January 2019 provided a good illustration of the lack of understanding of economics by ABC journos or their deliberate and calculated rejection of some simple truths. John Coulter has written to Leigh Sales as follows.
Last evening in your interview with the Prime Minister you raised the issue of government debt. You suggested to Morrison that he was not really such a good economic manager because government 'debt' had increased on his watch and you allowed the PM to go on and claim that he had to pay back the debt that Labor had created. This part of the interview was initiated by you and predicated on the undesirability of government debt.
What you should have asked Morrison, 'to whom is government debt owed' for it is actually owed to itself and is not a matter of concern as long as certain conditions are met. You may then have gone on and asked whether 'if the government does achieve a surplus is this not likely to lead to an economic downturn?' A government surplus means that the government is taking more from the economy and there is less for private investment.
Nearly all the ABC interviewers are firmly embedded in the existing economic paradigm which regards endless growth of GDP as both desirable and necessary whereas it is one of the fundamental drivers of our environmental degradation and not actually leading to improvements in human welfare.
With best wishes,
John Coulter, former leader, Australian Democrats
Transcript of the actual interview
Economic experts have warned the Government faces a challenge in meeting its new jobs target if it restricts migration, and even if it does deliver on its pledge, Australians may not be the ones to benefit.
It follows a similar pledge by Tony Abbott prior to the 2013 election to create 1 million jobs by 2018.
Peter McDonald, Emeritus Professor of Demography at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, said it was an “achievable” target and that a recent projection of labour market demand by Victoria University had already earmarked a similar level of demand.
But he also noted migration was the largest contributor to the growth in employment numbers in Australia since 2013, ahead of the growing trend for older Australians to stay in work.
The permanent migration program was reduced from around 190,000 to just above 160,000 in the past two years.
Mr Morrison revealed last year it’s likely the intake would remain at this new, lower level.
Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said his firm forecasted that, at this stage, jobs growth would fall short of the Government’s 2023 target.
“You get, basically, growth in jobs pretty much anyway — over time, there are more Australians, that typically means more jobs, but it does get more complicated than that,” Mr Richardson said.
“An ageing population means more people are retiring, that makes it harder.
“The migration debate — if it means winding back the number of migrants — that also makes it harder.”
The Department of Jobs’ Employment Outlook, released last year, projects employment to increase by 886,100 over the five years to May 2023.
Mr Richardson said the ratio of new skilled adult migrants to jobs growth was “pretty much one to one”, despite community concerns over migration fuelled by “barbecue logic”.
“People think, ‘well if migrants arrive, surely they’re taking jobs and if other things are equal, that means less jobs for everyone else’,” he said.
“If somebody puts up a hand to take a job — a migrant, a married woman, a Martian — they get the job, they earn the income, spend the income, then create the next job.”
Professor McDonald said if the Government restricted permanent migration, the employees needed by Australian businesses would not come from the ranks of the local unemployed.
“If labour demand is strong, and permanent migration is not filling the demand, then it will come from temporary migration or New Zealanders,” he said.
A reduction in immigration, he argues, would not necessarily lead to more jobs for Australians.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING for discord between policies that the major parties offer and what most people actually want, it is hard to beat population policy.
Okay, okay, the major parties don’t actually have population policies, they have immigration policies that, as the Productivity Commission says in its 2016 Migrant intake into Australia report, work as de facto population policies.
But let’s start with what most people actually want.
At the very least these surveys show a clear voter dissatisfaction with our high population trajectory as our major cities become crush-loaded.
Do we have “high” population growth?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases a quarterly report that summarises our population numbers.
As you can see, Australia is increasing its population by almost 400,000 a year — natural increase is about 38% of that and net overseas migration is about 62%.
The increase is 1.6% per year. To the non-statistician, that might not sound like much, but it means we would double our population every 44 years at that rate of increase. We are now at 25 million, so that would be 50 million in 2062.
That led to prime minister Kevin Rudd’s baptism of fire when, like a boy scout enthusiastically collecting kindling at his first jamboree, he chortled his enthusiasm for a “big Australia”.
Yes, we could all get nice and cozy around Kev’s big bonfire and toast some marshmallows!
But the public backlash was fierce, with Julia Gillard eventually distinguishing herself from Rudd with the empty phrase “sustainable Australia” rather than big Australia.
Back to reality, comparable countries to Australia have much lower population increases. Japan even has a decrease.
The Federal Government largely determines our population numbers, both through spruiking pronatalism, as former treasurer Peter Costello did in 2004, or through adjusting net overseas migration, with former Prime Minister John Howard turbo-charging it in about 2006.
(Do not confuse our refugee intake with our overall migrant intake — the former tends to be between 3 and 5% of the latter.)
Such high-population increases, mostly through net migration, then allowed successive governments to smugly say the Australian economy was the envy of the world, with a record-breaking run of “economic growth”.
Translation: GDP keeps increasing because you keep adding lots of new people.
Growth sounds good, doesn’t it? It is the opposite of death, decay or stagnation. But growth can also be a cancer, or a “population Ponzi scheme”.
As I have argued elsewhere, there is good evidence that Australia has gone from economic growth up to the decade of the 1970s to uneconomic growth as the costs of expanding the economy become greater than the benefits.
Expanding the economy wouldn’t be so bad if it led to full employment in good jobs and equitable wealth distribution, with reasonable commute times in efficient public transport, but I could sell you a nice big harbour bridge if you believe we are heading in that direction.
Space does not permit an analysis here, other than to say that governments generally ignore those reports that tend to highlight a lack of objective or scientific justification for ever-increasing high population increase in a country with Australia’s limited water resources; limited arable land, unpredictable climate, exposure to natural disasters and sensitive biota with record extinction rates.
Indeed, the Australian Academy of Science has been concerned about our population numbers for decades, although you will rarely, if ever, hear population boosters mention this.
‘The Academy has consistently advocated that a large increase in Australia's population should not take place without a full analysis of the consequences for the environment, in terms of land, water, sustainable agriculture, pressure on native flora and fauna and social issues.’
People advocating business as usual – or even higher rates of population increase – almost never mention the natural environment, probably because they know next-to-nothing about it and its life-support systems.
On the other hand, people who express concern about our population trajectory often have scientific or environmental credentials, or are at least environmentally literate: contributors to the regular Fenner Conference for the Environment are good examples.
No, it is largely the business community, its think tanks and its big accounting firms that push for a big Australia, with the mainstream media being largely complicit in not challenging base assumptions that the growth agenda is built on.
What would be an ecologically sustainable population for Australia?
What would be an optimal population for Australia?
Does expanding the size of the economy always lead to increased well-being?
Who are the winners and losers from the current Neoliberal growth strategy?
What are the costs and benefits of increasing our population and what weight should we give to these costs and benefits?
Why do many successful societies have relatively small populations?
What can Australia realistically do to help an overpopulated planet that is still expanding by 80 million people a year?
The population boosters trot out questionable arguments about the dire consequences of an increase in the proportion of older Australians; alleged skills gaps in the native workforce and fatuous ideas to do with “dynamism”.
What sticks in my craw is the seeming capitulation of both the once-great environmental movement in Australia and the progressive left in general, to the notion of demographic inevitability and Neoliberal orthodoxy.
In fact, we have a choice, if only we would exercise it.
This disgraceful rebadged “Statement of Planning Policy” for Macedon Ranges (home of Hanging Rock) sets a damaging growth plan in concrete as State policy for Macedon Ranges for the next 50 years, perpetuating the direction of our previous council (and apparently the State government), not the new direction taken by the new councillors.
The officer’s recommendation is that council receive (not endorse) the document; makes it clear the document is a creature of the State government; and makes suggestions for some changes. These include requesting Ministerial Guidelines to give direction on how the Statement is to be implemented, because despite recommendations and requirements that the document itself include this fundamental component, it doesn’t.
Minor changes since January simply reshuffle the deckchairs. The gross deficiencies of the original Localised Planning Statement (now re-badged as a Statement of Planning Policy) remain. It’s still a growth plan, it still doesn’t implement the recommendations of the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee, and – unbelievably – still doesn’t connect with or implement the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation.
So, other than temporarily moving the settlement boundary back to the existing town boundary at Woodend, nothing you or apparently councillors or officers have said has made any difference.
The new (so-called) “Statement of Planning Policy”:
· Doesn’t make policy statements about how things will be done but a series of weak objectives and strategies about how it is hoped things might be done.
· Instead of being based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, condemns SPP8 to oblivion. With it goes justification for current planning controls, including protection of township character (which isn’t a “must” in the new Statement), and no further subdivision at Macedon and Mount Macedon.
Still ignores Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee’s recommendations both for preparation of a statement, and policy e.g. “Landscape, biodiversity, cultural heritage and township protection must be a cornerstone of policy protection for the Macedon Ranges. The conservation of the Shire’s landscapes is of critical importance.” Not there.
· Where absolute clarity is demanded it nails nothing down, increasing uncertainty with “encourage”, “discourage”, “aim to”, “voluntary”, “should”, “consider”, “manage”, while “must” is confined to protection of extractive industries.
· Maintains separate policy domains, without saying how all of these work together.
· Is still not binding on public entities (including council), and only requires these bodies to have regard to the Statement, where relevant.
· Still singles out only “significant”, “State” “National” “high value” and “features” as important.
· Promotes extractive industries (making Macedon Ranges a target for them), and still promotes equine and intensive agriculture.
· Forgets to include almost half of the Shire’s drinking water catchments, and still makes biodiversity dependent on a website address.
Provides absolutely no guidance about dwellings or other development in rural areas, or in towns.
· Is still a growth plan that ignores the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation and sets expanded settlement boundaries without parliament’s approval.
· Only provides Woodend with a temporary reprieve by excluding its investigation areas but continues to give a ‘free kick’ to development interests in other towns by including their investigation areas.
· Still doesn’t include settlement boundaries for Gisborne and Romsey.
· Elevates Kyneton to a “Regional Centre” (10,000+ population) and falsely attributes this to the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy when the State government is making it so.
Is based on the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan, current incomplete Macedon Ranges planning scheme and the appalling draft Visitor Economy document.
Includes the previous council’s deplorable In The Rural Living Zone document (the one based on advice from real estate interests) as a reference document AND requires its on-going implementation, including converting high quality agi soils at Romsey and Farming zone at Kyneton into 2ha blocks.
This disgraceful rebadged “Statement of Planning Policy” sets these weak, vague aspirations and a damaging growth plan in concrete as State policy for Macedon Ranges for the next 50 years, perpetuating the direction of our previous council (and apparently the State government), not the new direction taken by the new councillors.
It’s NOT protection in any guise. It takes Macedon Ranges in the opposite direction to protection and Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 (our existing Statement of Planning Policy), and will have a catastrophic effect on the Shire and its values. It could only be considered an “improvement” over the January Localised Planning Statement if going from bottom of the class to equal bottom is considered an improvement.
Please email your support and encouragement to Macedon Ranges Councillors to not endorse this Statement, and/or attend the special council meeting at Gisborne Shire Offices next Thursday, 7.00pm.
We had an A grade example of the type of parallel universe Australia’s mainstream media has descended into late last week. A completely false story given prominence in the national media by The Australian, which was then picked up by various other Rupert Murdoch papers, but which sadly even made it beyond that – all without a single shred of fact, and all without anybody thinking to check, or even think about, the main line of the story being reported.
Better still it shows just how easy it may be to get a view into the public domain and have it picked up, with a mobile number, and a basic website splashing about a few logos, to create a Potemkin public ‘movement’. And from there we can get a sighter into the sort of desperado vested interests who’d go there to try and stoke public opinion.
The story began with the following piece which was plastered front-and-centre of The Australian on Thursday night:
Business and unions in rare alliance for Big Australia
Let’s start with the headline and the glossy of Sally McManus underneath. Any half-baked sentient thinker looking at that would assume that there has been some sort of major agreement signed by the Unions and Business on the subject of immigration.
Anybody remotely familiar with Simon Benson and his work can tell you he is a long term lackey for Rupert Murdoch’s Australian operations and has bounced around the Sydney Telegraph as a political codpiece, honing his act, before shifting to mission control last year.
The article is, in fact, highlighted as an ‘exclusive’ by the The Australian. So you would ordinarily think that for something being touted as such they would want to really nail their facts. Presumably Benson had some sort of information basis on which to write the story, and you would have thought that someone somewhere would have checked out something going into the The Australian proclaimed as ‘exclusive’.
Even more, if it is an ‘exclusive’ – did absolutely nobody at the Murdoch press think for a moment, ‘This is a major public announcement, and the idea of public announcements is to ensure the public knows, and if any organisation is making public announcements then it is in their interest to get it out as many media channels as they can. Why are we running this piece as an ‘exclusive’? Why isnt Fairfax, the broadcast channels and the ABC getting this as well? ‘
Alas, it appears we have two strikes from the ‘journalists’, ‘opinion leaders’, and ‘editorial processes’ at The Australian…….. (but it gets a whole heap better):
Big business has joined forces with the ACTU in an unprecedented compact to back a Big Australia, calling on the federal government to maintain current levels of permanent migration amid calls for the rate to be cut.
A stark statement to open the onslaught. A one sentence paragraph which is simply and utterly false – so false it is almost refreshing to see it as stark as it is for the plain and unadorned rubbish it represents.
There is no evidence anywhere to support it apart from an advertisement placed into The Australian on Friday (which we will get to).
There is not the faintest skerrick of evidence anywhere that the ACTU and its President Sally McManus have joined forces with big business on anything to do with immigration. There is no indication anywhere in their public pronouncements that the ACTU and its President Sally McManus have proclaimed, signed agreement to, funded or done anything to promote, a ‘compact’ promoting permanent immigration at its current levels, or any expansion or reduction of permanent migration levels.
The historic coalition of peak unions, employer groups and the ethnic lobby will release a united policy document today warning of the economic and social consequences of dropping the annual migration rate.
Well Friday came and went, and now the weekend too – and not a sign of any policy document uniting the ethnic lobby, big business and the unions came from anywhere.
The ACTU’s involvement comes as it embarks on a high-profile campaign to rein in employers’ access to temporary foreign workers.
The first migration document of its kind in the nation’s history calls for the current goal of an annual intake of 190,000 to be retained, with long-term levels set proportionally to the population.
Now the bullshit quotient goes up a notch right here. Think about that paragraph for a second. No caveats on why we need an additional 190k per annum, no relating it to how the economy is going, no historical reference – and certainly no mention that the 190k figure itself is a massive historical ramp up on a long term average of about 75k per annum. And then, before you get past that there is a fine sliver of the choicest grade 24 carat bullshit right at the back half of that sentence – ‘with long-term levels set proportionately to the population’.
Think about that for a moment. Our 190k isnt an ideal, it is a starting point and it keeps going up every year “proportionately to the population”. If 0.76% of 25 million brings us to 190k in the first year, in ten years time that same 0.76% will bring us more than 204k.
And no mention of employment outcomes, wages, land usage and degradation therein, consumption, whether or not that makes any form of economic sense, and no mention of who we bring in, or what skills they bring, or what they are expected to provide. Just 190k plus in – every year as far as the eye can see. And we are expected to believe the ACTU has signed up to this with business and the ethnic lobby – without discussing it with Unions under its aegis, with their members, without a debate in the public domain.
The accord will see the ACTU and United Voice, one of the most influential unions in the country, sign a National Compact on Permanent Migration with the peak employer body, the Australian Industry Group.
But on the day of the announcement neither the ACTU or United Voice have any mention of signing a compact with the Australian Industry Group on the subject of immigration numbers. The AIG has a reference to it on Saturday – on the front of its web site.
Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA)
United Voice (better known once as the LHMU or the Liquor Hospitality Miscellaneous Union)
Now at this point aspiring journalists would once have been asking themselves ‘What do these organisations have to say about the compact they have signed?’ and maybe even ‘What are they telling their stakeholders about why signing the compact is a good thing or not?’ I say ‘once’ because it often isn’t the case anymore, and the focus these days is being able to copy and paste a media announcement, or parts therein, into a piece being written, and just assuming that because there are logos and because there are links then it is all legit.
As a hat tip to the old timers I thought I would check out these organisations and what they have to say about the ‘compact’.
The Migration Council Australia – has no mention of any ‘compact’ or any tie in with the AIG or the ACTU or ACOSS on the subject of permanent immigration numbers. Their #the-economic-impact-of-migration-2015" target="_blank" rel="noopener">policy area makes no mention of it either.
The ACTU – has no mention of any ‘compact’ or any tie in with the AIG or ACOSS or migrant organisations on the subject of permanent immigration numbers. Their media section makes no mention of it either, apart from the Thursday press release on the subject of temporary visa employees.
ACOSS – has no mention of any ‘compact’ or any tie in with the AIG or ACTU or migrant organisations on the subject of permanent immigration numbers. Their news section makes no mention of any compact on immigration numbers.
Welcome to Australia – has no mention of any ‘compact’ or any tie in with the AIG, ACOSS or ACTU or migrant organisations on the subject of permanent immigration numbers. They have no news or press release or policy section referring to immigration numbers in any way.
The Settlement Council of Australia – has no mention of any ‘compact’ or any tie in with the AIG, ACOSS or ACTU or migrant organisations on the subject of permanent immigration numbers. They have no news or press release or policy section referring to immigration numbers in any way.
United Voice – has no mention of any compact or tie in with ACOSS, AIG, the ACTU or migrant organisations on the need to maintain a permanent immigration volume. Their news and media section makes no reference to any compact, or any consultation with members on immigration numbers.
So that currently leaves us with a website linked to by the Australian Industry Group, and referred to in a presser by FECCA as the substance of the compact which provided the basis for the ‘exclusive’ story being touted by The Australian on Friday. At the bottom of the page is a mobile phone number – 0499 991 098 – which if you ring gets to a voice message saying in a female voice to leave a message and someone will get back to you.
If you type that number into google however, you soon end up with this result – http://fni.org.au/author/fniadmin/ – for whatever the Friendly Nation Initiative involves. The only thing we need concern ourselves with here is that the contact number – 0499 991 098 – is the same one in play for the ‘Compact’ web page and refers to a media contact by the name of Alexander…..*drumroll*…….Willox. And he happens to be a Policy Officer at the Migration Council of Australia according to the Australian Institute of International Affairs.
So this tells us that our compact domain has been registered by some gent by the name of Scott Mills on behalf of the Migration Council of Australia. Scott could easily be a cleric or IT guy of some low level sort, and all he has done is the registering of the domain name, with the costs incurred not necessarily borne by him. As anybody with a domain name can tell you they aren’t hard or expensive to establish, and even that someone could establish a website on behalf of someone, without being connected to it whatsoever. For example I could go to a domain provider and register the domain www.utterbullshit.com on behalf of the Australian Prime Minister, and nobody at the domain provider will check to see if I actually do have anything to do with him.
But before we go there lets take a look at the Migration Council of Australia. In particular lets go to the Board, where amidst a sea of corporate players the very first name to greet the eye is Innes Willox.
Now at this point the lay reader thinking about contemporary Australia, as opposed to the journalist hurriedly trying to cut and paste an ‘exclusive’ together, may think to themselves our Innes is a man about town, for yea verily he is also the main honcho of the AIG, isnt he:
So from all this we can assume that Innes has his hands all over whatever is unfolding with any ‘compact’ and he likes his immigration numbers up, and he doesn’t mind a lot of bullshit, and he will have contacts in just the right places to be able to create a weird population ponzi website, is the father of the boy with the phone number listed – who just happens to be a Policy officer with the Migration Council of Australia, then link to such a website, and be able to get someone to whip up an article giving it just a whiff of public airing.
That stench you can smell, isn’t something on your shoes.
From there, it is worth going back to take a look at the ‘compact’ because you could reasonably assume that if the ‘journalists’ in Murdoch Press overlooked the above, then the actual compact may not have withstood much examination either.
And so it is. The National Compact on Permanent Migration is an ineptly written a document. From Australia’s immigration taking place as a program in the first half of the first sentence to being a scheme at the end. To a rushed set of exhortations unadorned by any logical or rationale that might easily have been thrown together in a liquid lunch (or thrown up afterward) to a weird collection of principles of which the only remotely measurable one is a need to keep permanent immigration numbers up – presumably where they are at around 190k per annum, though it doesn’t actually say that.
We affirm that Australia’s permanent migration program is essential to Australian society and our economy and do not support any reduction to the scheme.
Our permanent migration program has been central to Australia’s economic and social development and will be critical to Australia’s future as a productive and globally integrated economy and society.
Australia is a country based on multicultural values where migrants enjoy the equality of opportunity to participate and benefit from Australia’s social, economic and political life. As our economic opportunities in the Asia Pacific continue to advance and our population ages, Australia will need migrants to bring skills and youth to complement and develop our domestic workforce and to help to grow the national income needed to support our high standard of living.
We support the current planning levels for the permanent migration program and encourage future programs to maintain a level proportional to the population.
Migrants bring relationships, knowledge, skills and social capital that ensure Australia’s economy is well placed to trade and invest with the countries of our region and beyond. Many Australians in turn live and work in other countries during their lives. In this century, our people to people ties will drive our competitive edge and spread the benefits of our multicultural values.
The successful settlement of millions of people ranks among Australia’s greatest achievements as a nation. As a result, approximately one in four of Australia’s population today was born overseas and half of all Australians have at least one parent born overseas.
Migration is a two-way street that has helped Australia forge ties to every continent, country and culture. It has made our society more cosmopolitan and our thinking more open and dynamic.
Migration nourishes our cultural and linguistic diversity and is one of our greatest strengths in the contemporary globalised world. Our humanitarian program is an important reflection of our values and adds strength to the character of our nation.
We must plan for our success as a nation by supporting settlement services and programs that foster a sense of belonging, encourage social cohesion and enable economic participation.
We must ensure that all those who come are provided with the same rights and opportunities so that our values of equality and a fair go are maintained.
We agree that the following principles should form the foundation of Australia’s migration policy:
We affirm that Australia’s permanent migration program is essential to Australian society and economy and do not support any reduction to the scheme.
The permanent migration program should be set within a national strategy for well managed population growth that provides the community with the education and training, infrastructure, housing and other services needed to support growth and social cohesion.
Australia’s permanent migration program must be evidence-based and calibrated to meet Australia’s national interests taking account of the role migration plays across all our economic levers. Migration, along with education, training, retraining and a strong system of social supports is part of our long-term economic strategy.
Australia’s migration program must be selective but non-discriminatory in terms of ethnicity, national origin, class, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
All migrants have a right to live and pursue economic opportunities in an Australia free of racism, discrimination and exploitation.
Migrants must be given every opportunity to contribute and fully participate in all aspects of Australian life, supported by access to services that assist their capacity to build the skills and knowledge needed to chart their own future.
English language is recognised as critical to participation, both in the workplace and in the broader Australian community, and migrants should have access to free services to develop their English language skills where needed.
The temporary skilled migration program should be limited to instances of genuine skill shortages which are based on evidence–based assessments of the need for specific occupations in the labour market. Where temporary visa workers are necessary we must ensure a robust regime to monitor and enforce compliance with protections incorporated in the program for preventing exploitation of overseas workers and guarding against the undercutting of local wages and conditions as well as holding those who abuse the labour rights of workers accountable.
Encouraging and facilitating permanent settlement has been a key part of Australia’s migration framework and migrants should have a pathway available to seek permanent residency and citizenship.
The confidence of the Australian community in an effective migration program, with appropriate safeguards, is paramount to its success and is contingent on strong and bi-partisan political leadership.
We agree that the following principles should form the foundation of Australia’s migration policy:
Continuing to promote the importance of permanent migration to Australia’s sustainable economic and social development to the wider community.
Supporting efforts to make the migration experience positive for migrants and for the Australian community, free of discrimination and exploitation.
Promoting migration as a stand-alone portfolio function.
Around this utter tripe, Simon Benson crafted his exclusive. Imagine the scene if you will. Innes pops over to Simon’s desk and asks if he could write something on some utter bullshit he is conjuring up and Simon does not miss a beat.
Meanwhile Simon is not a man to question bullshit, Simon is a man to spread it around…….
But the unified stance is designed as a circuit-breaker to the increasingly heated immigration debate, which the signatories believe has become toxic, xenophobic and at risk of ignoring the economic benefits that underpin skilled migration.
The document, spearheaded by the Migration Council, signals the first time unions and employer groups have reached general agreement on temporary skilled migration but based on stricter policing of the program.
We can assume the unified stance has in no way pared the marginal propensity to bullshit, with the document signaling nothing more than the desperate straits the population ponzi lobby is now descending into to get traction in a world where everyone can now see Australian immigration has been run too hard for far too long. Of course, that is before we get to the not insignificant matter of there being no indication at all that any unions have signed up to the compact.
Simon (and Innes?) obviously decided a chart would help things along about here and threw up this one which did at least identify the ramp up in immigration numbers post 2006.
But even there it doesn’t really do justice to the insane level at which Australia has been running immigration numbers over the last last 12 years. Here is an accurate depiction of that:
Simon then works the Union angle some more……
#333333;">ACTU secretary Sally McManus told The Australian the country had a history of permanent migration for “most of the 20th century”.
#333333;">“That system was predicated on civic inclusion as an Australian ideal; the idea that if you lived and worked in Australia, paid taxes and abided by the law, you should also get a say in the content of those laws, as well as the chance at full participation in our social, economic and political life,” she said.
There isn’t anything to doubt about Sally McManus having said anything there. But there’s a lot to ask about how it relates to the ACTU signing up for a ‘compact’ upholding a level of 190k per annum immigration.
#333333;">The issue has divided government ranks, with cabinet ministers publicly at odds with each other over whether the annual intake should be reduced as first proposed by former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Simon is obviously a master craftsman who knows well to weave some factuality into your bullshit narrative so that the reader can feel that something rings true. If we assume that the Prime Minister and Treasurer bullshitted the public about whether Home Minister Peter Dutton took any form of proposal to reduce immigration numbers by even a small volume, then we can assume that there has been some tension on the subject.
#333333;">The business-unions compact follows the release of a report by Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs that backed a Big Australia and revealed that permanent annual migration was forecast to add 1 per cent to GDP growth each year for the next 30 years.
Well, we still haven’t seen any trace of the union side of the compact apart from a photo of Sally McManus so we could easily start that sentence with the ‘business-tooth fairy compact…..’ but our craftsman has some more fact in the narrative. Treasury has recently put out a report backing a big Australia which has been comprehensively debunked, dismantled, chewed, laughed at, snorted on and facesat at Macrobusiness.
#333333;">Signatories to the compact — announced today in an advertisement in The Australian — include the Migration Council of Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, the Settlement Council of Australia and migration lobby group Welcome to Australia.
Simon has at least got the names right (he is obviously a senior Murdoch ‘journalist’) but he missed the small fact that there is no sign of anyone signing anything. There arent any signatures on the compact site, and not a scintilla of evidence anybody on the union side of of the compact is even aware of it.
#333333;">It will also involve the Business Council of Australia in what the compact’s signatories claim is a “historic” agreement between business and the trade unions for the economic good of the country.
One wonders if the BCA actually knows of it yet. There is nothing on their website to suggest they do, and they certainly haven’t put out any pressers on the subject.
#333333;">The 10-point policy document sets out critical elements of the migration program including English language skills, evidence-based skill needs, national interest and selectivity at the same time as being non-discriminatory.
#333333;">“This historic national compact brings together civil society, business and our union movement in shared tripartite commitment to migration as part of Australia’s future,” the document says. “We affirm that Australia’s permanent migration program is essential to Australian society and our economy and do not support any reduction to the scheme.”
The compact, as can be seen above, is nothing more than a collection of motherhood statements in abysmal English.
#333333;">The government has argued that the 190,000 intake was a rigid target set by the former Labor government that was based on the “quantity rather than quality” of migrants.
#333333;">The Coalition reset the target to a “goal” that has been allowed to reduce to an expected 160,000 this year.
This is the blame apportionment line, but seemingly takes us towards a reduced number of immigrants arriving this year anyway, despite the compact ostensibly calling for no reduction. Did Simon or Innes read what they were writing, or were they a tad under the weather by this stage?
#333333;">Former Business Council of Australia head and current Migration Council of Australia board member Tony Shepherd said the compact was without precedent.
#333333;">“I welcome this compact and congratulate the signatories,” Mr Shepherd said. “Immigration is the cornerstone of our incredible post-war development. It remains vital to our prosperity and security given our ageing and small population.”
All of a sudden we are back with the BCA and another business gargoyle who is gracing the board luncheons of the Migration Council. He too is talking about signatories despite nobody having seen any sign of anybody signing anything , but he does lay in with two other oft exhorted placebo rationales for higher immigration which have been debunked more times than anyone would care to think about with ageing and small populations.
#333333;">The AiGroup, representing 60,000 businesses, said it was critical that the migration program retained the confidence of the public. “The benefits of migration are felt across every sector of the Australian economy and the skills migrants bring are vital to the development of future industries,” AiGroup chief executive Innes Willox said.
#333333;">“Migration has helped Australia maintain our long record of uninterrupted growth and has assisted us in building our national infrastructure and skills base. It is important that we come to a consensus that migration is a key part of Australia’s future prosperity.”
Innes works himself into the story with a few comments. Innes is probably part of the world which has seen Australia shed economic diversity and sell out Australian employers with Free Trade Agreements. Could he tell us why we need more immigrants if all we do is spread around the wealth from mining operations?
#333333;">Carla Wilshire, the chief executive of the Migration Council who drove the agreement, said migration was one of Australia’s greatest strengths.
#333333;">“Migration has been central to our nation-building story and the national compact creates a platform to build consensus around the importance of migration to Australia’s future,” she said.
All of a sudden we slip a new character in at the end – another Innes flunky from the Migration Council. She is described as ‘driving’ the agreement, rather than a compact, which leads us to wonder if she was taking dictation at lunch with Simon and Innes.
#333333;">The peak union body recognised the need for a temporary skilled migration program on the condition that it was based on a robust compliance regime, restricted to genuine shortages and used “evidence-based” assessment of specific occupations.
#333333;">Yesterday the union issued its own briefing paper demanding more stringent labour market testing for temporary workers claiming there was an over-reliance in some regions.
Surreally the piece concludes with reference to the one thing the ACTU has clearly stated this week – to the effect that temporary employment visas have been abused.
So there it is.
It’s a compact, it’s an agreement, it’s been signed and it involves business, unions, immigration bodies and ethnic councils and social service providers, and it argues for maintaining a high level of permanent immigration – just that it consists of nothing but a web page with some logos, and three quarters of the organisations behind the logos have not even mentioned any agreement or compact.
Maybe The Australian would like to verify whoever paid for the advertisement which appeared in The Australian on Friday and their connection with the Migration Council of Australia? And maybe the Migration Council of Australia may want to clarify with a statement that whoever has paid for that advertisement has been duly authorised to expend monies on its behalf, and that it considers the advertising of the ‘compact’ an efficient use if its resources?
That of course is before we look at Rupert Murdoch’s world and ask ourselves if his minions write ‘exclusive’ pieces based on advertising connected with its own opinion writers, touting websites which are closely connected with that writer.
It has Innes Willox’s fingers all over it. And it stinks.
It is likely to be just as nasty as the one on same sex marriage with all sorts of accusations that target people rather than immigration policies. There will be a rash of claims made against Asians, Muslim, Middle East, and African migrants matched in venom by attacks on the WASP (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant) Rednecks who dared to question their suitability to be citizens. Just like the SSM debate very few people will be persuaded by the opposing claims and instead will only be entrenched further in their own beliefs.
Some of the opening salvos from politicians have already been fired - Scott Morrison has said cutting immigration will cost the economy more than a billion a year which seems like small beer alongside his proposed $64b in tax breaks. Tony Abbott, perhaps sniffing the wind, has called for a cut of 80,000 per year which would bring the rate down to that set by John Howard. Bob Carr wants the present immigration number halved, the Greens want it increased by 50,000, the Sustainable Population Party wants it cut back to the pre-Howard level of 70,000 and the Scientific community say we have already overshot our sustainable numbers - but then nobody listens to the science. However, perhaps the most insidious pro-immigration argument – one that has been aired many times – is the claim that Australia is the best in the world when it comes to accepting different cultures. It’s the sort of feel good statement that appeals to our vanity, a bit like being told we are the best sporting nation, so consequently very few people bothered to challenge Chris Bowen MP the former minister for immigration when he said were indeed the world’s most successful multicultural nation. So while we all sat back and marvelled at how wonderful we are, no one remembered that the other major culture in our society is our indigenous population who, given the level of disadvantage they experience, have good grounds for disagreeing with the statement.
And they would not be alone. Bowen's appeal to our good nature was probably an attempt to detract from the negative comments made earlier by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Germany's attempt to create a multicultural society had failed completely, while Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented a bill in parliament that read:
“The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model.... A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Britain's former Prime Minister David Cameron, France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy, Spain's former leader, Jose Maria Aznar, and Belgium's former PM Yves Leterme. Indeed most of Europe is of the same mind with many seeing the rise of extreme right wing political parties as a direct result.
In fact MC has had a dismal record almost everywhere around the globe. Czechoslovakia fell apart and it’s not going well in Ireland. Scotland is not happy in GB, and the US, once the poster boy for immigration, seems to be on a race-related downward spiral. China spends an estimated 1.24 trillion yuan ($193 billion) on its domestic security system mainly in areas with major populations of religious and ethnic minorities; an amount that is more than its spending on external security.
However, while there are many MC problems in Europe, they pale in comparison to those countries that have fallen into internal conflict, the result often descending into ethnic cleansing. This is a relatively new term that originated in 1992 when, in the former country of Yugoslavia, the Serbians tried to drive out the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The process is, however, as old as human history and the number of victims as large as human diversity. Even if you don't believe the biblical account of the Passover the Jews have been persecuted at least since the Roman era, a process that continued intermittently in most nations, culminating in the holocaust, an event in which most of the Nazi-occupied nations participated. More recent atrocities such as those in Myanmar, Rwanda, Tibet and Sri Lanka have received much media attention but the murder of about one million Armenians, Assyrian’s and Greeks during the chaotic collapse of the Ottoman empire was largely ignored by a world lost in its own troubles. Unfortunately other such crimes, like the actions of Indonesia in east Timor and Papua, which are ongoing in the latter, are ignored for political reasons.
One list of the 10 bloodiest civil wars of the twentieth century (Sarkees 2000), half of the cases were ethnic conflicts and these all involved minority groups that were identifiable by religion, color, language or culture. The outbreaks of violence were usually triggered by factors such as unemployment, food prices, exploitation or repression, problems that are increasing in Australia. Over the last decade or so, Australian governments have considered it necessary to respond to a perceived terror threat by increasing ASIO's budget 471 per cent over 9 years. Athol Yates, executive director of think tank the Australian Security Research Centre, has calculated that Canberra has spent about $10.5 billion on homeland security, while state and local governments plus private industry have forked out another $5.5 billion, taking the total domestic security bill to about $16 billion. Oddly enough this expenditure increases our GDP allowing politicians to boast about the economic benefits of Multiculturalism but in reality the real success for governments has been the division it has created in the population, enough apparently to divert attention away from our absurdly high immigration rate.
During the week commencing 12 March 2018 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a number of programs on a Big Australia — the phrase used to encapsulate debates about the desirability of Australia’s rapid immigration-fuelled population growth. The specific programs included episodes of 4 Corners and QandA. Subsequently I submitted an official editorial complaint as per the ABC’s complaint-handling process. In the complaint I took care to refer in detail to the ABC’s own documented editorial standards. The ABC has acknowledged receipt of the complaint and will respond in writing in due course. As this response may take some time to provide, in the meantime I am publishing the text of my complaint here (PDF), for the interest of those who follow the population and immigration debate. I will also publish the text of the ABC’s response when received. The summary of the complaint is as follows (extracted from the conclusion of the document). [Article first published at http://www.peakdecisions.org/the-abc-population-growth-and-a-big-australia-official-complaint/]
Based on the arguments and evidence presented in this complaint, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Programs do not meet Editorial Policy 4. Highly relevant principal perspectives were omitted or given very limited time. The Programs overwhelmingly favoured one perspective: that a Big Australia is inevitable and there is no room for debate about alternative scenarios. The Programs ignored opportunities to present alternative perspectives even when they were offered as low-hanging fruit (for example, the video questions on QandA). There was repeated reliance on the same narrow range of expert opinion, while other expert opinion was omitted, in defiance of the weight of evidence on these matters. Given that these same one-sided viewpoints and imbalances were repeated over several programs, it is very hard to argue that excesses in one particular program were re-balanced by the views expressed in other programs during the week that the Programs were aired or published. And it is hard to avoid the conclusion that in this instance, these outcomes expressed an implied editorial stance of the ABC towards the desirability of a Big Australia.
This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the ABC has departed from its growthist mantra, allowing its reporters to describe the problem and really let the public know how bad it is. "We need to focus on corruption, population to halt biodiversity loss." Researchers say targets for biodiversity loss ignore key drivers such as human population and corruption." Article by ABC Science, environment reporter Nick Kilvert. First published here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-03-27/corruption-population-impact-biodiversity-loss/9586556
Human population is a key driver of biodiversity loss, according to researchers.
We need to focus on limiting human population growth, reducing resource consumption, and cracking down on government corruption, if we're going to stop the global loss of species known as the sixth great extinction.
Key points box biodiversity
2020 biodiversity targets failing globally
Population pressure and high rates of resource consumption are key threats
Australia has worst record on mammal extinction, driven by land clearing
That's the message from a team of scientists who today published their recommendations for slowing current rates of biodiversity loss, in a paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Although key threats to biodiversity include habitat clearing for cattle, mining, and urban sprawl, these are all consequences of population pressure and high rates of resource consumption, according to Deakin University researcher Euan Ritchie.
"It's often a taboo topic to talk about human population size and family planning and how much we consume as individuals," Dr Ritchie said.
The researchers assessed the 2020 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) — the world's central conservation strategy to which 196 nations have signed up.
They concluded that many of the global biodiversity conservation aims known as the Aichi targets, are inadequate and lacking key indicators to measure the effects of governments, human population size, corruption and "threat industries" like mining.
As a result, they say the targets are failing to halt the catastrophic decline of species worldwide and need to be revised to include the major drivers of species loss.
"Ignoring major drivers is a fundamental flaw of the current set of targets and indicators," the paper states.
Australia worst offender for mammal loss
Although the paper is a global study, Dr Ritchie argues that Australia's poor record on species loss means we need to be making changes to halt the demise of biodiversity here.
"We have the worst record in the world on mammal conservation, with 30 species likely to have become extinct since European settlement," he said.
"In terms of the big issues for biodiversity loss in Australia, they are habitat loss which is associated with urbanisation, agriculture and extractive industries such as mining."
(ABC Rural: Carl Curtain)
Both Dr Ritchie and Professor Bekessy cited the death of the last male northern white rhino earlier this month as a reminder that we need to be doing more to halt the loss of species worldwide.
Professor Bekessy said she believes people may not realise how much their day-to-day decisions can impact on species loss.
"Whether we choose to have beef or vegetable for dinner, or what sort of coffee we choose to have in the morning, all of these things lead to the survival or extinction of species," she said.
"Extinction is something that people understand. All the media attention around the last white rhino — it was heartbreaking because it was really personal.
"I think, [we need to make our goal] no more extinctions."
This is why it was actually the duty of every media outlet from the Herald Sun to the 'quintessential progressive media double act of Fairfax and the ABC' to bring this conversation into the public realm. Bearing in mind that our cities will need to have a further 1.5 trillion dollars of infrastructure investment by 2045 just to keep up, this sudden interest from the ABC was, in fairness, a bit late in coming. Even Tony Jones acknowledged the sheer amount of concern that there is on this issue during a Q&A special on whether or not we are ready for a Big Australia.
So comparing all lefties who question our current rate of immigration with the kind of mindset that sparked the Cronulla riots is very problematic. The truth is that unless you are an advocate of open borders, there comes a point whereby everyone has a limit to what they think our annual rate of migration should be. In other words, according to Hildebrand, there comes a point whereby everyone becomes a racist.
Then there are those who do want to see a policy of open borders but that would do absolutely nothing to resolve the very issues that are pushing people to leave their homeland in the first place. In other words it does nothing to help the vast majority of people who, for one reason or another, would be left behind.
This is why a proactive measure such as foreign aid as opposed to a reactive measure such as unlimited migration can help communities on the ground to better manage their environment while providing increased access to education and family planning. That, in combination with much improved urban and regional planning at home, is the ONLY way that we can collectively reduce habitat loss and stabilise populations across the world.
So although Hildebrand is correct in saying that 'cutting the immigration rate to Australia does little to reduce the global population' it is nevertheless a massive oversimplification of a much more complex issue. When you consider that the world's population is growing by 80 million a year, immigration really is the least effective way of dealing with global population pressures.
Of course this is not to say that we shouldn't have immigration. Australia has a proud history of people moving to our shores from overseas and it really is something that we should be proud of. The good news is that we can continue to have a sizeable rate of migration because as Joe sort of points out, if we had no migration at all, our population would eventually start to decrease.
So at the very least we can have an annual migration intake of around 70,000 a year (which happened to be our long term average before John Howard came to power) and this would allow our population to start to level off over time. This means that we can continue to not only maintain our current rate of refugee intake but also be in a position to increase it if we ever decide to go down that path.
It would also buy us the time to play catch-up in terms of getting decent public transport infrastructure in place and crucially it would buy us the time to achieve the slower rate of development that comes with an increased focus on urban regeneration as opposed to mostly relying upon land releases on the urban fringes of our cities.
We are more than capable of innovating new ways to grow the economy without relying on population growth and it is simply untrue to assume that reducing migration will leave us with a skills shortage. As recently as March 18, Caroline Winter reported on the ABC that 'there are calls from the multicultural community for an internship program to be adopted to help skilled migrants get local experience, and a chance at work in their chosen field'. So it is clear that many migrants are not simply walking straight into jobs.
Make no mistake, the main reason why we have a high rate of immigration is not because we have a massive skills shortage, it is not because we are rescuing people from poverty, and it is not because we have an ageing population (we can easily innovate our way through that). It is because it boosts GDP and in the words of Joe Hockey, it is a lazy way of doing it. So it really is crucial that we keep this conversation going and resist the urge to label those who disagree with us with sweeping statements. Instead we all need to work collectively to find solutions that benefit Australia and the world as a whole.
The author, Mark Allen, is an environmental activist who has worked as a town planner. He is a member of Sustainable Population Australia.
The page I am writing about is on the Australian ABC website, entitled, "You decide Australia’s population, we’ll show you how it looks," by journalist Inga Ting, Mark Doman, Ri Liu and Nathan Hoad. The arguments presented are a kind of demographer's fantasy. Demography is not population science; it is maths and statistics. Maths and statistics are not themselves science. They can be used as much for population science, to test theories, as they can be used for advertising and propaganda. Demographers are often also economists and they usually try to establish trends in population numbers in isolation from the environment, social values, or deep history. What they call population science is usually only economics, which many people think is now practised as a dogma. They do not tend to challenge propaganda and, for this reason, they are very useful for governments and corporate media that want to push peoples' thinking in a certain direction about population. This interactive article on the ABC gets the reader to make certain decisions, comes up with biased feedback, and then invites the reader to change their minds. To be unbiased, this interactive would need to list the positives of lowering population growth. It fails to. It does mention some as opinions, but it does not employ related arguments in its presentation of demographic trends in Australia.
The message of "You decide Australia’s population, we’ll show you how it looks," is that if we choose low immigration, the size of the population over 64 will be greater than the size of the population under 15 yrs old. It compares the size of the post WW2 baby-boomer population, as if this were a norm, with the projected elderly population.
"In 2101, one in eight Australians will be children, compared to nearly one in three in 1960. At the same time, one in three will be 65 or older, compared to one in 10 in 1960."
There are a number of flaws in this.
1. The baby boomer population was the first of its kind, and should not be used as a norm.
2. There is an insistence on maintaining and increasing our current population in Australia and, by implication, everywhere else, but our current populations are the largest by an order of magnitude that have ever existed. They are not 'normal'. They are out of proportion to all human history and other species. They are an exception that is very hard to maintain materially, has many political, energy and biological-ecological problems, and few positives, except in terms of profits made by a few through inflation of resource prices.
3. Comparing numbers of children 15 and under to people over 64 is comparing one arbitrarily selected cohort over a limited number of years - 15 - to another of a larger number of years - 64 to, say, 100 - amounting to 36 years. If we were to compare a similar number of years in the older cohort, we might compare older people in 15 year cohorts, such as people aged 85-100, or people aged 70-85, or people aged 65-80.
4. The dependency ratio of children to adults 64 and over is not cut and dried, not predictable. Elderly people are much less dependent than babies, toddlers, school children, who almost never earn their living. These days children's dependency may last far longer than 15 years. Some people will never find any reliable legal work in our future society, due to the declining affordability and standard of Australia's education system, the effects of industry automation, and competition from immigrants selected for their education and skills.
5. The greatest cost in all cohorts - dependent and independent; children, adults and older adults - is the cost of land for housing and business. These costs are hugely inflated by population growth. If we allowed population growth to slow naturally, then no-one would have to work so hard to have housing, businesses would have much bigger profit margins, wages could fall and people would still have enough money to live well, and the few elderly people who finish up in high dependency care units for long periods of time, would not have to pay nearly so much for their care, because the land and therefore wage costs of those old-age care facilities would be greatly reduced.
This manipulative article talks about 'demographic problems' associated with Japan's population decline, but there were more problems associated with the overpopulation that Japan suffered from, including reliance on nuclear power plants in earthquake and tsunami-prone areas:
Perhaps most alarming, however, is the threat of a shrinking population. In South Korea and Japan, for example, very low birth rates combined with few immigrants and high life expectancy have led to a dwindling workforce and rapidly-growing elderly population. "Demographically these countries are in quite serious trouble," Dr Wilson said.
These 'problems' solve themselves. Expatriots are returning to Japan from Australia because the housing has become affordable again and it is a pleasant place to live. An older population does not need the frantic productivity that a young industrialising one does. The population will presumably return to much lower levels, perhaps those of the Edo period, which was a Japanese social pinnacle, when the country was self-sufficient.
It is the property development lobby that wants population growth and which has lobbied for it since the 1904 Royal Commission into the Decline in the Birth Rate in New South Wales (which was actually caused by men leaving the state to goldmine in Queensland and then in West Australia, but don't tell anyone). If the population growth rate fell now in Australia, then the growth lobby would just shrivel up and die, industry-wise, and we could get on with our actual lives. You can imagine the fuss and bother that the death throws of our malignant growth lobby would cause as they thrashed around in our parliaments and councils, our banks and insurance industries, our mining and road-building industries - but after the dust settled, most of us would be so much wealthier because our cost of living would have plummeted. Necessary industries would continue - as they did in Australia before the two wars, when we built most of the things we now import: cars, aeroplanes, scientific instruments, pharmaceuticals ...
Evolutionary population theory argues that the long-lived elderly people in tribal societies were the repository for knowledge and judgement. If everyone had only lived to thirty years old (as is often supposed) a society would have little capacity to develop culture or complex language. Consider what it may mean to our societies to have people living to one hundred years old and more. It might make the difference between a society that is wrecked by capitalist demands and a society with people who have many years of experience and can identify snake oil because they have heard it before.
Actual dependency: Are treatable illnesses that cause dependency and death in the elderly being systematically overlooked?
With regard to actual dependency in the elderly, as a person with a background in nursing, as well as sociology, I would suggest that we restart Vitamin B12 therapy for people over 60 [and for vegetarians and vegans and new mothers and their children. There is now a higher risk for everyone due to the addition of Folic Acid to our foods.] Diagnosing Alzheimers is not an exact science and I know from experience that much treatable Vitamin B12 deficiency goes under the radar, even while it is resulting in dementia and loss of the ability to walk. [See /node/4463.] There are so many more people in walkers and on electric carts these days. Question them and you will find that almost none have any idea of their Vit B12 status. I would also suggest that we revise our therapeutic levels for these upwards, to at least the Japanese norms. (Note that you can buy high-dose sublingual Vit B12 now which in many cases does the job the injections do.)
I will also just raise here the idea that we should question the use of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) as the ultimate measure of thyroid health as many thyroid sufferers do on various forums growing round the world. We need also to be measuring T4, but especially T3, and taking note that quite a substantial number of people with hypothyroidism do not really improve on T4 replacement alone. Australia used to add iodine to salt, but this was discontinued and tests for iodine are not even rebated, yet our country and our diets are still low in iodine. Few doctors even test for this. Iodine is not the only cause of hypothyroidism, but it is a common cause. Several books have been written by doctors about the need to increase the use of specific hormone testing for suspected thyroid disorders.
I think that ANU Demography Crawford School Unit's professor Peter McDonald's 'coffin-shaped populations' is a case in point. Here is one of many examples: "This is a projection for Australia that leads to the 25 million population in 50 years time and close to zero growth subsequently. The essential difference between the two is that the Sydney population is younger. The Sydney population is beehive-shaped and the rest of Australia is somewhat coffin-shaped. As we shift Melbourne, Brisbane etc from the right side to the left side, this impression would become very pronounced. That is, a projection that provides a reasonable outlook for Australia is the sum of high population growth in the existing cities with considerable ageing and labour supply decline in the non-metropolitan regions. We need more work on this and we shall be doing this as a component of the AHURI study of future housing needs."
Professor McDonald seems to me to truly to believe that Australia must have a continuously growing population to fulfill a continuously industrialising economy based on youthful manpower. The growth lobby and its corporate press reward such theories and present their proponents in a very favourable light. That is why we hear so much from them and so little from the rest. How would a student in Professor McDonald's unit fare if he argued for a small population to keep essential resource costs low and wildlife corridors for native fauna? Would you even enroll in the Canberra Demography unit if you had those views?
This man also advises our ministers and people overseas, including Europe.
"Peter McDonald is Professor of Demography in the Crawford School. He is President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population for the years, 2010-2013 and is a Member of the Council of Advisers of Population Europe.
He is frequently consulted on the issue of population futures (causes, consequences and policies) by governments around the world, especially in Australia, Europe and East Asia. In 2008, he was appointed as a Member in the Order of Australia. He is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research. In 2012, he was appointed as an inaugural ANU Public Policy Fellow. He is a member of the Australian Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration. He has worked previously at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the World Fertility Survey and the University of Indonesia." https://crawford.anu.edu.au/people/visitors/peter-mcdonald
 See Tony Boys, "How will Japan feed itself without fossil energy?" in Sheila Newman (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed. 2018.
I note that the ABC is planning to air Four Corners and Q&A programs on the issue of population and a ‘Big Australia’. The topic of a ‘Big Australia’ is a contentious issue in public debate. Several opinion polls show more than 50 percent of Australians believe Australia has enough people or should not grow any larger than 30 million people. On the other hand, the major political parties (including the Greens) are in lockstep marching to the tune of a Big Australia. Thus there is a major gap between elite opinion and the general public. In view of this the ABC has a special responsibility to ensure that its Editorial Policy number 4 — Impartiality and Diversity of Perspectives — is fully achieved in this case.
The question of Australia’s population size and a ‘Big Australia’ will be the subject of ABC Television Four Corners and Q&A programs on Monday 12 March 2018. For details see this post at the Q&A Facebook page.
Due to a virtual consensus among the major political parties (including the Greens) that a Big Australia is a Good Thing which must not be questioned, it is all that much harder to get any balance on this topic in the mainstream media, who tend to take their cues from the agendas of established political parties. It then becomes easy to portray concern about population and associated migrant intake issues as only that of a fringe group with racially motivated agendas, epitomized in parties such as Pauline Hanson One Nation. This deflection of serious debate on the topic suits very well the special interests such as real estate and construction which benefit from unending increase in our numbers — despite the fact that on a per capita basis, we are no better off — and in many ways we are worse off.
These upcoming ABC shows will be an important opportunity to ensure that there is some serious reporting and debate on this topic. I sent the following email to the ABC just in case they needed some reminding:
I note that the ABC is planning to air Four Corners and Q&A programs on the issue of population and a ‘Big Australia’. The topic of a ‘Big Australia’ is a contentious issue in public debate. Several opinion polls show more than 50 percent of Australians believe Australia has enough people or should not grow any larger than 30 million people. On the other hand, the major political parties (including the Greens) are in lockstep marching to the tune of a Big Australia. Thus there is a major gap between elite opinion and the general public. In view of this the ABC has a special responsibility to ensure that its Editorial Policy number 4 — Impartiality and Diversity of Perspectives — is fully achieved in this case.
The Q&A discussion ought to include discussion of the desirability of a Big Australia — as well as how (or whether) such growth could be actually be ‘managed’. There must be balance and representativeness in the range of views and expertise invited to be on the panel. Opponents of our current high rate of mass immigration (which fuels population growth) should not be stereotyped as racists and xenophobes — as is commonly done on the ABC.
It is also imperative that ABC journalists and interviewers have a clear understanding of the differences between the following four issues/questions:
1. the question of Australia’s desired population size (eg the desirability of a Big Australia)
2. the question of how or whether rapid population growth can be managed
3. the question of the success or failure of multiculturalism
4. the question of the treatment of ‘arrivals by boat’ (refugee claimants) — which incidentally have negligible impact on questions 1 and 2 above
The ABC can make a useful contribution to public understanding and debate by ensuring these issues are not conflated together and that each issue is clearly distinguished and considered on its merits.
There are any number of centrist, highly respected experts and commentators who oppose a Big Australia — for example Prof. Ian Lowe, William Bourke, Dr Jane O’Sullivan, Leith van Onselen, Mark O’Connor, Crispin Hull — just to name a few. It is to be hoped — given this view is held by a large section of the Australian community – that at least one representative of this general position will be included in both the Four Corners reportage and Q&A panel.
The question for the producers of Four Corners and Q&A is: given that this is such an important and contentious debate, will you select the panel in an impartial, balanced and fair way?
I found what struck me personally as egregious growthist propaganda dressed up as an academic research article on The Conversation, yesterday: "Blaming immigrants for unemployment, lower wages and high house prices is too simplistic." [February 23, 2018 11.26am AEDT]. The article was headed up by professor of economics, Robert Breunig from the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, and co-authored by Mark Fabian, Postgraduate student, Australian National University. Professor Breunig disclosed that he receives funding from the Productivity Commission, which I think is a leopard with continuously changing arrangement of spots according to whatever political background it needs to blend into for survival. Leith van Onselen's debate with Migration Council's CEO Carla Wilshire of the on the ABC’s National Wrapdocumented here, seems to illustrate this, but for all I know the professor and his student actually believe what they write.
Jobs! The plaintive refrain and the crocodile tears...
Criticising ex-PM Tony Abbott's extremely belated calls for reducing Australia's immigration-fed overpopulation problems, Breunig and Fabian write, “But migrants also bring capital, investing in houses, appliances, businesses, education and many other things. This increases economic activity and the number of jobs available.” It sounds like they are describing molecules in a heated gas.
Increasing economic activity increases impact on our environment and politically disempowers us
Increasing economic activity increases impact on our environment and politically disempowers us. Massive population growth in this country is removing our choices of what we can buy with money, whilst inflating the cost of the reduced amenity and shelter that population growth is causing. That's impoverishing. Just on the business side, the cost of premises and paying wages so that employees can afford housing makes Australian businesses globally uncompetitive and provides an explanation for their mysteriously high rate of failure.
I am going to talk about how changes to laws and standards as to how our natural environment and urban spaces are treated and our rights within them are taking place without any meaningful public discussion or empowerment in order to allow growth to proceed.
Breunig and Fabian's article completely ignores the beautiful non-human environment we have in Australia, the green bits of which are being cut up into biogeographical islands, then paved over, subdivided and sold for ever higher monetary value. I suspect this failure to engage with nature is because its writers currently live in a bubble and simply don’t know or care about wildlife or green spaces or have compartmentalised this reality. So they are writing without my values or those of many other Australians or the values that attracted many immigrants.
Although there are laws for the protection of wildlife in this country, they are simply not applied. This is one reason that population growth can continue, for the recently beefed up Prevention of Cruelty Act 1986, the Fauna and Flora Guarantee Act 1988 and the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 would otherwise prevent the big business and government agenda for a big human population and infrastructure expansion.
Who cleans up the blood and guts as humans overrun nature?
I am, however, acutely aware, because I am involved personally, of how various authorities and contractors are expecting local wildlife carers and rescuers to clean up the huge callous mess and damage to flesh and blood that they are causing. Carers and rescuers are paying for artifical nests, feeding, nursing and medicating so many injured and displaced animals. Then those carers have to find some other place to release them, as habitat is destroyed all around them, whilst people like the authors of this article I am commenting on are claiming that the only problem about housing is failure to release land. We on this side of reality are fighting to stop the ‘release’ of land to bitumen and profit for a few in the growth lobby. (I am also qualified to talk about the growth lobby because I was the first person to write about it in Australia in a 2002 thesis - The Growth lobby in Australia and its Absence in France - which compared our system to the French one, which latter costs population growth as a cost to the public purse.)
Here are some examples of the callous vandalism that is taking place as we speak:
I live in Victoria and currently VicRoads and Melbourne Water are removing an extraordinary number of trees. For the expansion of the Melbourne metro rail project (which aims to cater for our artificially stimulated population growth) I have been informed that around 800 trees are being removed from urban Melbourne. Most of these are large mature trees, which have provided shade and enjoyment to people, and habitat for Australian wildlife, including birds and mammals. The public has not been consulted in any meaningful way about this. The St Kilda Road Avenue that leads to the war memorial and the botanic gardens, has been vandalised for this purpose. This avenue is a feature of Melbourne not unlike the Champs Elysees of Paris. To vandalise this is equivalent to a resounding slap across the face by Melbourne Planners of citizens who grew up here. Many find it shocking and distressing as a recent protest shows. /node/5413
But wait, there's more....
But it is not just rail changes that are destroying wildlife habitat. Melbourne Roads have recently changed their policy on roadside and median strip vegetation, with absolutely devastating results for local climate, ammenity and habitat: /node/5304
Then Melbourne water is now treating small local retardant basins as major dams, under the ANCOLD guidelines. Why are small retarding basins being treated as major dams? Because our 60% immigration fueled population growth has caused urban densification and the proliferation of hard surfaces. Although this was predicted by residents with foresight in many VCAT battles, these hard surfaces now carry the threat of major floods, so the small retarding basins that were adequate for many decades, now are deemed in need of reinforcement to bring them up to major dam status!
What has this got to do with trees and wildlife habitat and human amenity, you ask?
These new ANCOLD guidelines require the removal of all trees from ‘batters’ or dam banks. Since previous thinking caused the planting of trees because trees stabilise earth-forms, this ‘new’ thinking requires the removal of another huge quantity of mature trees, denuding much parkland throughout Victoria. Can you blame me if I suspect this is also to suit private developers and people who want land ‘released’ [from the commons and nature]?
The implications of these ANCOLD guidelines (which are now an Australian standard that is threatening green spaces all over the green bits surrounding this 70% hot desert and rangeland island) are staggering for the green wedges that follow Victoria’s rivers and creeks, their canopies cooling our environment through transpirational heat exchange, lowering water tables through the same transpiration, providing habitat for our wildlife and a green commons for our human spirits. Melbourne Water is in charge of more than 200 such basins. It pretends to follow guidelines to protect the displaced wildlife but in fact it does not have plans in place for their survival and reestablishment. It invites people to ‘revegetate’ what it has devastated, but our wildlife cannot wait for 25 yrs while trees grow to maturity, or 100 yrs plus until natural hollows occur. And the cheek of Melbourne Water to invite the people for whom its works have diminished their natural ammenity to replant such areas and not be paid! Insults added to injury. If you want to read more about this scandal, and its impact on wildlife, community and democracy, have a look at /node/5401 and https://awpc.org.au/awpc-to-melbourne-water-response-on-tree-removal-lee-st-retardant-basin/. Furthermore, there is a rumour that the Federal government is planning to make work like tree-planting mandatory for environmental organisations to qualify as tax-deductible. Slave labour for public works damage! And when every government leads with the plaintive cry of "Jobs!" This is where the labour is required.
And more ... Freeways and tollroads devastate our landscapes and wildlife
And then there are there is the devastation caused by freeways and tollways created to ‘solve’ the congestion problems created by overpopulation. Money given to Parks Victoria by Peninsula Link for predator proof fences around scarce bandicoot habitat has been diverted to another program far from the original area, consolidating the damage that wildlife campaigners thought they might have mitigated in this place.
And don't rely on Parks Victoria to help the situation ...
Of course the public think that Parks Victoria is looking after animals in the parks it manages for ‘healthy people’, but we cannot rely on Parks Victoria. See /node/2376 and /node/2377.
Australian Wildlife Protection Council
And the examples I give here are actually taking place at the mouth of the Mornington Peninsula Biosphere - scheduled for densification, of course. Shame!
It is not the big-name conservation organisations but the hands on volunteers in organisations like AWPC (whose articles I have used as examples) that are doing the hard yards in this vicious losing battle against a delusional ideology fueled by speculative money that wants to increase human population despite our population being bigger by an order of magnitude than it has ever been for the bulk of its history. Does economics totally lack a sense of proportion or irony? The King Midas myth and the magic pudding pale against the science of modern economics which seems so similar to 17th century economics and official religion. The notions put forward in the article I am commenting on simply stagger me in their unreal, coldly irrational model of the world we live in, biological human values, and what passes in The Conversation for research and analysis. Unfortunately these are the dominant models and values that are then acted on by governments and their contractors, in a great tragedy for this beautiful and fragile land that gives us all life.
Tonight, [Feb 18, 2018] I appeared on the ABC’s National Wrap to debate the Migration Council’s CEO, Carla Wilshire, on Australia’s mass immigration program. Below are notes from the debate explaining my position and refuting Ms Wilshire’s key lines of argument.
Economic modelling on immigration is unflattering and does not reflect real life:
During the debate, we got into an exchange over the purported economic benefits of immigration, as noted by the various Productivity Commission (PC) modelling.
Ms Wilshire argued the modelling shows unambiguous benefits to Australians because GDP per capita is increased, whereas I argued that incumbent Australian workers are made worse-off from falling wages (let alone broader impacts like congestion, higher infrastructure costs, smaller and less affordable housing, etc).
At the outset, it is important to note that economic modelling around immigration is inherently limited and often does not reflect real life.
First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is equally likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.
Even if this assumption holds true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.
Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).
Third, these economic models typically assume that immigration allows for either steady or increasing economies of scale in infrastructure (i.e. either assumes that population growth does not diminish the infrastructure stock; that bigger is always cheaper; or there is under-utilised capacity). At the same time, they completely ignore the dead weight of having to build more infrastructure each year, as well as the dis-economies of scale from having a bigger population, which necessarily makes new infrastructure investment very expensive (e.g. tunneling, land buy-backs, water desalination, etc).
Finally, and related to the above, these models ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.
With these caveats in mind, what does the PC’s modelling on immigration actually say?
Well, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, released in September 2016, compared the impact on real GDP per capita from:
Historical rates of immigration, whereby population hits 40 million by 2060; and
Zero net overseas migration (NOM), whereby the population stabilises at 27 million by 2060.
The PC’s modelling did find that GDP per capita would be 7% ($7,000) higher by 2060 under current mass immigration settings. However, all the gains are transitory and come from a temporary lift in the employment-to-population ratio, which will eventually reverse once the migrants age (i.e. after the forecast period):
The continuation of an immigration system oriented towards younger working-age people can boost the proportion of the population in the workforce and, thereby, provide a ‘demographic dividend’ to the Australian economy. However, this demographic dividend comes with a larger population and over time permanent immigrants will themselves age and add to the proportion of the population aged over 65 years.
The PC also explicitly acknowledges that per capita GDP is a “weak” measure of economic welfare:
While the economywide modelling suggests that the Australian economy will benefit from immigration in terms of higher output per person, GDP per person is a weak measure of the overall wellbeing of the Australian community and does not capture how gains would be distributed among the community. Whether a particular rate of immigration will deliver an overall benefit to the existing Australian community will crucially depend on the distribution of the gains and the interrelated social and environmental impacts.
It is worth pointing out that the PC’s modelling unrealistically assumed that Australia’s infrastructure stock would keep pace with the extra population, which is vital if economy-wide productivity is not to dimish:
Specifically, the expansion in labour supply through migration is projected to lead roughly to the same proportional growth in capital and output in most industries including infrastructure industries. That is, the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production…
As the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production, the economy-wide modelling results are broadly linear. Hence, while the modelling provides insight into the economic impact of NOM, in practice limits on Australia’s absorptive capacity (including environmental factors) mean that constant returns to scale are unlikely to hold for very high rates of immigration.
Clearly, this assumption is at at odds with the Australian economy’s ‘lived experience’, whereby massive infrastructure deficits have accumulated over the last 15-years of hyper immigration, particularly in the major cities.
Most importantly for incumbent Australian workers, the PC’s modelling finds that labour productivity and real wages are projected to decrease under current mass immigration settings versus zero net overseas migration (NOM):
Compared to the business-as-usual case, labour productivity is projected to be higher under the hypothetical zero NOM case — by around 2 per cent by 2060 (figure 10.5, panel b). The higher labour productivity is reflected in higher real wage receipts by the workforce in the zero NOM case…
With zero NOM, real wages are projected to increase over time, and at a rate greater than in the business-as-usual scenario. That is, in the zero NOM scenario labour is relatively scarce which puts upwards pressure on real wages and causes a substitution towards capital, contributing to the marginally higher labour productivity relative to the business-as-usual scenario (figure 10.5, panel b). Higher rates of labour force participation through immigration in the business-as-usual case is projected to moderate such wage pressures.
Therefore, according to the PC’s most recent modelling, high immigration improves per capita GDP by 2060 by boosting the proportion of workers in the economy, but this comes at the expense of lower labour productivity and lower real wages.
Moreover, beyond the forecast period (2060), the migrants will age and retire, thus dragging down future growth – classic ‘ponzi demography’.
As noted by the PC above, its latest modelling also did not take account of the distribution of gains to per capita GDP, which is vitally important. Thankfully, it’s 2006 major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth did, and the results were unflattering.
Here, the PC modeled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25 and found that “the incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case”. Below is the money quote:
The increase in labour supply causes the labour / capita ratio to rise and the terms of trade to fall. This generates a negative deviation in the average real wage. By 2025 the deviation in the real wage is –1.7 per cent…
Broadly, incumbent workers lose from the policy, while incumbent capital owners gain. At a 5 per cent discount rate, the net present value of per capita incumbent wage income losses over the period 2005 – 2025 is $1,775. The net present value of per capita incumbent capital income gains is $1,953 per capita…
Owners of capital in the sectors experiencing the largest output gains will, in general, experience the largest gains in capital income. Also, the distribution of capital income is quite concentrated: the capital owned by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the Australian population represents approximately 45 per cent of all household net wealth…
To it’s credit, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report does go to great lengths to stress that there are many costs associated with running a high immigration program that are not captured in the modelling but are borne by incumbent residents and unambiguously lowers their welfare:
High rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities. Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive state, territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies…
Urban population growth puts pressure on many environment-related resources and services, such as clean water, air and waste disposal. Managing these pressures requires additional investment, which increases the unit cost of relevant services, such as water supply and waste management. These higher costs are shared by all utility users…
Immigration, as a major source of population growth in Australia, contributes to congestion in the major cities, raising the importance of sound planning and infrastructure investment …governments have not demonstrated a high degree of competence in infrastructure planning and investment. Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation.
…there will be additional costs for the community where environmental services that are currently ‘free’ have to be replaced with technological solutions…
Accordingly, the PC explicitly asks that these costs be considered as part of any cost-benefit analysis on the immigration intake, rather than blindly following the results of its modelling.
A prime example of these costs is infrastructure. In its Migrant Intake Australiareport, the PC pulls no punches about the higher cost of living imposed on incumbent residents from mass immigration, particularly in the big cities:
…where assets are close to capacity, congestion imposes costs on all users. A larger population inevitably requires more investment in infrastructure, and who pays for this will depend on how this investment is funded (by users or by taxpayers). Physical constraints in major cities make the costs of expanding infrastructure more expensive, so even if a user-pays model is adopted, a higher population is very likely to impose a higher cost of living for people already residing in these major cities.
This follows the PC’s warnings in 2013 that total private and public investment requirements over the next 50 years are estimated to be more than 5 times the cumulative investment made over the last half century:
The likely population growth will place pressure on Australian cities. All of Australia’s major cities are projected to grow substantially… In response to the significant increase in the size of Australian cities, significant investment in transport and other infrastructure is likely to be required… Total private and public investment requirements over this 50 year period are estimated to be more than 5 times the cumulative investment made over the last half century…
Similarly, in its latest Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review, the PC explicitly noted that infrastructure costs will inevitably balloon due to our cities’ rapidly growing populations:
Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels).
In short, there is little hope of achieving the level of investment required to sustain current levels of mass population growth, let alone an increase in the immigration intake to 250,000 (from 210,000 currently), as demanded by the Migration Council.
Overall, the PC’s economic modelling on immigration shows little (if any) material economic benefit to incumbent Australian residents. And once you add the various external costs not captured in the modelling (e.g. more expensive housing, more expensive infrastructure, congestion, and environmental degradation), the overall costs of mass immigration to ordinary Australians almost certainly outweighs the benefits.
Further information on why mass immigration is not in Australia’s interest is explained in MB’s submission to the federal government’s Migration Program review, which is reproduced below. (You can also download a PDF copy here – please share it around).
The Migration Council must believe in exponential population growth:
In responding to my claim that Australia’s NOM is running at triple the historical average, Carla Wilshire argued that when measured in percentage terms (i.e. the rate of growth), it isn’t actually that high and could be increased further. (Again, the Migration Council has lobbied for the immigration intake to be increased to 250,000 from 210,000 currently.)
In taking this line of argument, Ms Wilshire is being very loose with the facts.
First, as noted by the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, Australia’s immigration intake as a percentage of population (currently 1%) is very high by historical standards:
Second, and more importantly, it is not the immigration rate that matters for infrastructure, traffic congestion, or the environment, but rather the sheer numbers. Does Ms Wilshire honestly believe in exponential population growth? Because that’s what a stable immigration growth rate implies, which is clearly unsustainable [note: Australia’s current population growth rate in 1.6%]:
Figure 10 shows that under the ABS central forecast, in 2061 Victoria would have the same population as all of Australia had in 1960. In 2061 Queensland would have a larger population than all of Australia had in 1950. It is important to note that these are not the projections of the high growth scenario (Series A), but of the one that most closely matches current trends (Series B).
How much population is enough?
Migration Council is just another mass immigration lobby group:
During the interview, I claimed that the Migration Council’s economic modelling on immigration could not be trusted as it is a vested interest lobby group backed by big business.
Ms Wilshire responded angrily claiming that it was non-partisan and not-for-profit.
Since its inception, the organisation has lobbied strongly for a ‘Big Australia’ and for the immigration intake to be increased to 250,000 (from 210,000 currently).
It has also been chaired by pro-Big Australia business people and has stacked its board accordingly.
Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology, described the formation of the Council in 2010 as follows:
The announcement of the formation of a Migration Council of Australia and its launch by the Governor General on August 1, confirmed by Department of Immigration and Citizenship official Gary Fleming at the Settlement Council of Australia conference in Adelaide in late June, marks a critical juncture in population and immigration policy…
The MCA wants to find a new space to assert the importance of migration and effective settlement, and has brought together some heavy hitters to make this happen. Headed by Peter Scanlon (ex Patricks Chair) – and bringing together Business Council of Australia chair Tony Shepherd, Australia Post head Ahmed Fahour, Ethnic Communities Federation chair Pino Migliorino, Adult Migrant Education Victoria head Catherine Scarth and a number of others – the organisation seeks to build a bridge between those with an economic interest in a big Australia, and those with a social interest in a fair Australia.
Scanlon has been a key figure in building an information base about immigration and settlement through his Foundation… He is also a major real estate developer and will come under scrutiny for how this new lobby group might create benefits for his commercial interests…
Peter Scanlon is a key leader of Australia’s ‘growth lobby’, and has a clear vested interest in mass immigration, as explained by John Masanauskas:
MAJOR investor and former Elders executive Peter Scanlon hardly blinks when asked if his conspicuous support for a bigger population is also good for business.
Mr Scanlon, whose family wealth is estimated to be more than $600 million, has set up a foundation with the aim to create a larger and socially cohesive Australia.
It also happens that Mr Scanlon has extensive property development interests, which clearly benefit from immigration-fuelled high population growth.
“My primary driver in (setting up the foundation) is if we don’t have growth we are going to lose all our youth because the world is looking to train people around the world,” he explains. “Instead of having stagnant growth, we’re going to have a serious decline.”
Mr Scanlon believes that governments aren’t doing enough to sell the benefits of a bigger population so he has put his money where his mouth is…
Peter Scanlon vacated the chair of the Migration Council in 2015 and was replaced by long-time mass immigration booster and Australian Industry Group CEO, Innes Willox, who was affectionately described last year by The AFR“as one of Australia’s top business lobbyists”.
Let’s not pretend that the Migration Council of Australia is impartial in the immigration debate. It is a stealth ‘Big Australia” lobbyist for the business sector.
On a side note, a quick look at the Migration Council’s modelling of immigration’s economic impacts reveals the following howler of an assumption: it “allows for economies of scale in infrastructure”.
You read that right. Their model ridiculously assumes that bigger is always cheaper and/or there is always under-utilised capacity. This flies in the face of the ‘lived experience’ of growing infrastructure bottlenecks and rising congestion costs, as well as increasingly complex and expensive infrastructure projects (i.e. classic dis-economies of scale).
I’ve already discussed these infrastructure issues above with respect to the PC’s modelling, so I won’t do it again. But clearly the Migration Council has chosen favourable assumptions to get a positive modelling result in support of its Big Australia agenda. Garbage in, garbage out.
Carla Wilshire admits a ‘Big Australia’ will lower residents’ living standards:
Finally, after spending the whole segment arguing that mass immigration will raise Australia’s living standards, Ms Wilshire tacitly admitted that, actually, living standards will fall for those of us living in Sydney and Melbourne:
“…congestion in Sydney and Melbourne is undoubtedly getting to a point where a significant investment in infrastructure is going to have to happen. In fact, one could argue that point was some years back…
One of the ways that we are going to have to solve that problem is decreasing the per capita cost of investment in infrastructure. And migration is part of that solution…
And in some senses it is also about an acceptance that the way in which these two cities function, and the way in which we live in these two cities, is going to change over time. It’s going to be much more about apartment living. It’s going to be much more about public transport. And it’s going to be much more about sustainable cities”…
Only in the Bizarro World of the Migration Council do you solve an infrastructure deficit by adding millions more people. And only in the Migration Council’s world does having to live in shoebox apartments, suffering from greater congestion, as well as making everyone consume less of everything, just so we can make room for mass immigration, equate to higher living standards.
Submission to the Department of Home Affairs’ Managing Australia’s Migrant Intake Review
At MacroBusiness we support immigration, but at sustainable levels.
Australia’s immigration levels are too high – higher than our cities can absorb. The infrastructure costs of high immigration are excessive and Australia’s infrastructure supply is not keeping up with demand, despite our best efforts.
The economic arguments frequently used to justify high immigration fail the evidence test. Empirical data does not support mass immigration. Excessive immigration also damages Australia’s employment market and the environment.
It is time for an honest debate.
Currently, Australia’s immigration program is overloading the major cities with tens of thousands of extra people each year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person) and to support business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), despite growth per person stagnating.
Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads and water), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.
The economic evidence for the above is contained in this submission.
The Australian Government needs to stop ignoring these issues. Australia’s living standards are at stake.
MacroBusiness urges the Australian Government to reduce Australia’s immigration intake back towards the historical average of around 70,000 people per annum.
1. Australia’s immigration program is unprecedented:
One of the most profound changes affecting the Australian economy and society this century has been the massive lift in Australia’s net immigration, which surged from the early-2000s and is running at roughly triple the pace of historical norms (Chart 1).
In the 116 years following Australia’s Federation in 1901, Australia’s net overseas migration (NOM) averaged around 73,000 people a year and Australia’s population grew on average by around 180,000 people.
Over the past 12 years, however, Australia’s annual NOM has averaged nearly 220,000 people a year and Australia’s population has grown on average by 370,000 people.
The principal driver of Australia’s population increase has been the Australian Government’s permanent migrant intake, which has increased from 79,000 in 1999 to nearly 210,000 currently, including the humanitarian intake (Chart 2).
Due to this mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, Australia’s population has expanded at a rate that is more than 2.5 times the OECD average, easily the fastest of advanced English-speaking nations (Chart 3).
This rapid population growth is expected to continue for decades to come, with the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report projecting population growth of nearly 400,000 people a year – equivalent to one Canberra – until Australia’s population reaches 40 million mid-century (see Chart 1 above).
However, the problem with Australia’s mass immigration policy is not just the extreme volume, but also the concentration of migrants flowing to Australia’s largest and already most overcrowded cities.
As shown in Chart 4, around three quarters of Australia’s NOM has flowed to New South Wales and Victoria, principally Sydney and Melbourne:
In the 12 years to 2016, Melbourne’s population expanded by nearly 1.1 million (30%), while Sydney’s population expanded by 845,000 (20%). There was also strong growth in Brisbane (537,000) and Perth (502,000) (Charts 5 and 6).
The migrant influx helps to explain why dwelling price growth has been strongest in Sydney and Melbourne, and why housing is most unaffordable in these two cities (Charts 7 and 8). While the Australian Government and property lobby likes to blame a ‘lack of supply’, the problem rests primarily with excessive demand from mass immigration.
The chronic problems around housing and infrastructure will only get worse under the current mass immigration policy.
State Government projections have Melbourne’s population expanding by 97,000 people each year (1,870 people a week) and Sydney’s by 87,000 people each year (1,670 people each week) for the next several decades until both cities’ populations hit around 8 million people mid-century.
To put this population growth into perspective, consider the following facts:
It took Sydney around 210 years to reach a population of 3.9 million in 2001. And yet the official projections have Sydney adding roughly the same number of people again in just 50 years.
It took Melbourne nearly 170 years to reach a population of 3.3 million in 2001. In just 15 years, Melbourne expanded by 34% to 4.5 million people. And the official projections have Melbourne’s population ballooning by another 3.4 million people in just 35 years.
No matter which way you cut it, residents of our two largest cities will continue to feel the impact of this rapid population growth via: traffic gridlock; overloaded public transport, schools, and hospitals; pressures on energy and water supplies; as well as more expensive (and smaller) housing.
It is a clear recipe for lower living standards.
2. No economic bonanza:
Politicians and economists frequently claim that maintaining a ‘strong’ immigration program is essential as it keeps the population young and productive, and without constant immigration, the population would grow old and the economy would stagnate.
For example, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stated previously that “anyone who thinks it’s smart to cut immigration is sentencing Australia to poverty”. In a similar vein, former KPMG partner and “unabashed supporter of a bigger Australia”, Bernard Salt, has produced reams of articles warning that Australia faces economic and fiscal catastrophe without ongoing strong immigration.
Economic models are often cited as proof that a strong immigration program is ‘good’ for the economy because they show that real GDP per capita is moderately increased via immigration, based on several dubious assumptions.
First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is just as likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.
Even if this assumption was true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.
Indeed, the Productivity Commission (PC) has for more than a decade debunked the myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. For example, in its 2010 submission to the Minister for Population, the PC explicitly noted that “substantial increases in the level of net overseas migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age”.
Academic demographer, Peter McDonald, has also previously stated that it is “demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young” .
Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).
Third, economists and their models generally ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.
Moreover, the cost of retro-fitting our big cities with infrastructure to cope with larger populations is necessarily very expensive – think tunnelling and land acquisitions – with costs borne largely by the incumbent population. This fact was explicitly acknowledged by the PC’s recent Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review:
“Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels)” .
Finally, while economic models tend to show a modest improvement in real GDP per capita, the gains are more likely to flow to the wealthy, whereas ordinary workers are made worse-off.
In 2006, the PC completed a major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth, which modelled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25. The modelling found that even skilled migration does not increase the incomes of existing residents. According to the Commission: “the distribution of these benefits [from skilled migration] varies across the population, with gains mostly accrued to the skilled migrants and capital owners. The incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case” .
Of course, there are other costs borne by incumbent residents from immigration that are not captured in the economic modelling, such as worsening congestion, increased infrastructure costs, reduced housing affordability, and environmental degradation – none of which are given appropriate consideration by politicians nor economists.
Adding a Canberra-worth of population to Australia each and every year – with 80,000 to 100,000-plus people going to Sydney and Melbourne – requires an incredible amount of investment just to keep up. Accordingly, Australia’s infrastructure deficit has fallen badly behind over the past decade, and will continue to do so under Australia’s mass immigration program, thus eroding residents’ living standards.
3. Empirical data does not support mass immigration:
While the economic models might show small per capita gains from immigration-fuelled population growth, based on faulty assumptions, the actual empirical evidence shows no link between population growth and prosperity.
Since Australia’s immigration intake was expanded in the early-2000s, trend GDP per capita growth has plummeted to recessionary levels, suggesting falling living standards (Chart 9).
Chart 10 plots the growth in GDP per capita versus population change between 2000 and 2016 across OECD nations and shows no correlation (Australia denoted in red):
Meanwhile, there is a slight negative relationship between labour productivity and population growth (Chart 11):
Whereas there is zero correlation between population growth and multifactor productivity across OECD nations:
A recent study by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also found “that even when we control for initial GDP per capita, initial demographic composition and diﬀerential trends by region, there is no evidence of a negative relationship between aging and GDP per capita; on the contrary, the relationship is signiﬁcantly positive in many speciﬁcations” (Chart 13).
There is also evidence to suggest that mass immigration is partly behind Australia’s trade and current account deficits, as well as the nation’s ballooning foreign debt.
The lion’s share of Australia’s export revenue comes from commodities and from Western Australia and Queensland in particular (Chart 14):
However, the majority of Australia’s imports and indeed private debt flows to our biggest states (and cities), New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne). Sydney and Melbourne also happen to be the key magnets for migrants (see Charts 4,5 and 6 above).
Increasing the number of people via mass immigration does not materially boost Australia’s exports but does significantly increase imports (think flat screen TVs, imported cars, etc.). Accordingly, both New South Wales and Victoria have driven huge trade deficits as the extra imports have far outweighed exports (Chart 15):
All of these extra imports must be paid for – either by accumulating foreign debt, or by selling-off the nation’s assets. Australia has been doing both.
Australia would improve its trade balance and current account deficit, as well as reduce the need to sell-off assets and binge on debt, if it simply cut immigration.
Australia will ship the same amount of hard commodities and agriculture regardless of how many people are coming in as all the productive capacity has been set up and it doesn’t require more labour.
4. Lowering immigration would raise wages:
Hand wringing over Australia’s anaemic wages growth (Chart 16) hit fever pitch recently, with politicians, economists and media all searching for answers.
One cause that has received scant attention is the role caused by mass immigration in driving-up labour supply and reducing the bargaining power of workers.
Employer groups often argue that a strong ‘skilled’ migration program is required to overcome perceived labour shortages – a view that is supported by the Australian Government. However, the available data shows this argument to be weak.
The Department of Employment’s 2016-17 Skills Shortages report revealed that Australian skills shortages “continue to be limited in 2016-17”, and that there are a high number of applicants per job (Chart 17):
The Department of Employment also revealed a record number of Australians studying at university (Chart 18):
Of whom many graduates cannot gain meaningful employment (Chart 19):
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ labour force data also shows that Australia’s underutilisation rate remains high, especially for Australia’s youth, despite the recent improvement in the labour market (Chart 20).
Curiously, Australia’s permanent skilled migrant intake is significantly higher today (128,550) than it was at the peak of the mining boom in 2011 (113,850). Why? Unlike then, labour shortages are “limited”, wages growth is running near the lowest level on record, and labour underutilisation is high. What is the economic rationale for running the highest permanent migrant intake on record when economic conditions do not warrant it?
Standard economic theory claims that net inward migration has minimal long-term impact on wages. That is, when the quantity of labour increases, its price (wages) falls. This will supposedly increase profits, eventually leading to more investment, increased demand for labour, and a reversal of the initial fall in wages. Immigration, so the theory goes, will enable the larger domestic population to enjoy the same incomes as the smaller population did before.
However, a recent study by Cambridge University economist, Robert Rowthorn, debunked this argument. The so-called ‘temporary’ effects of displacing incumbent workers and lower wages can last for up to ten years. And if there is a continuing influx of migrants – as is the case in Australia – rather than a one-off increase in the size of the labour force, demand for labour will constantly lag behind growth in supply .
In other words, if the Australian Government was to stem the inflow of foreign workers, then workers’ bargaining power would increase, as will wages growth. It is basic economics.
As noted in April last year by The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, the very purpose of foreign worker visas is to “suppress wage growth by allowing employers to recruit from a global pool of labour to compete with Australian workers”. In a normal functioning labour market, “when demand for workers rises, employers would need to bid against each other for the available scarce talent”. But this mechanism has been bypassed by enabling employers to recruit labour globally. “It is only in recent years that the wage rises that accompany the normal functioning of the labour market have been rebranded as a ‘skills shortage'” .
Australia’s youth is effectively caught in a pincer by the Australian Government’s mass immigration program. Not only does it hold down their wages, but it also inflates their cost-of-living via more expensive housing (both prices and rents).
5. It’s time for a national debate and population policy:
The Australian Government under both the Coalition and Labor has long supported mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’ on flawed economic grounds.
Behind the scenes, the ‘growth lobby’ of retailers, the banking sector, the property industry and erroneously named ‘think tanks’ all push the growth-ist agenda, while completely ignoring the cost burden on ordinary residents.
At the same time, many on the left pursue the globalist agenda of ‘open borders’ citing spurious social justice concerns.
Currently, there is no coherent plan other than to inundate the major cities with extra people each and every year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person), to support big business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), and to prevent Australia from going into recession (despite growth per person stagnating).
Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads, water and energy), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.
Never have Australians been asked whether they want a population of 40 million-plus mid-century. Nor whether they want Sydney’s and Melbourne’s populations to swell to eight million mid-century.
Yet immigration and population growth affects every facet of Australian life, including: how long one spends stuck in traffic; whether one can get a seat on a train or a spot in hospital or school; and/or whether one can afford a good sized home within a decent commute to where one works. It is a key determinant of living standards above all else, yet is rarely questioned by the media nor politicians.
Without mainstream political representation on this issue, divisive elements like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party have emerged to wrongly use the ills of overpopulation to attack the small number of refugees arriving in Australia, as well as Muslim and Asian immigration.
As this submission has shown, there is strong justification to reduce Australia’s permanent migrant intake back to historical levels primarily by slashing skilled migration, which has been the driver of the influx. This would take the strain off the major cities, put a floor under wages growth, and safeguard Australia’s environment.
Australia could achieve such immigration cuts without affecting its global obligations via the humanitarian migrant intake. Indeed, much of Australia’s 130,000 strong permanent skilled migrant intake comes from countries where skills are more desperately needed than in Australia. Australia’s immigration program is depriving these countries of skills, and we have a moral obligation to limit the brain drain.
More broadly, Australia desperately needs a national debate and a population strategy, led by the Australian Government. The Government needs to conduct a population plebiscite asking Australians how big they want the nation to become, and then set immigration policy accordingly. The Australian Government also needs to provide a comprehensive plan detailing how and where it will accommodate all the extra people, while safeguarding incumbent residents’ living standards.