Why Penny Wong is wrong on immigration

By Leith van Onselen

Labor senator, Penny Wong, delivered a speech yesterday to the National Press Club entitled Building bridges not walls: the case for an open Australia. As the title suggests, Ms Wong outlined the case for openness towards trade, foreign investment and immigration, most of which I agree with.

The section on immigration, however, is worthy of examination as I believe Ms Wong has made some important omissions that are central to the debate. Below is the extract in question [my emphasis]:

Contemporary Australia’s diversity – which in large part reflects our successful post-War immigration program – is a source of social, cultural and economic strength.

It brings fresh perspectives, fosters creativity and drives innovation – all keys to our future prosperity.

In addition to cultural enrichment, migration also delivers economic benefits.

It boosts demand, and brings in new sources of savings and capital along with new skills, technologies and ideas.

Migrants bring knowledge and contacts in international markets, which strengthen our trade relations and broaden our business horizons.

A more diverse workforce gives Australia a competitive advantage in the global economy.

And, at a time when an ageing population is creating fiscal pressures, immigration can provide a demographic safety valve.

The Productivity Commission has estimated that maintaining migration at our historical rates will increase Australia’s per capita GDP by 7 per cent by 2060 compared to a scenario of zero net migration.

That’s an extra $7,000 for every Australian man, woman and child in current dollars compared to zero net migration – which is the policy of One Nation

First, by comparing current immigration settings to One Nation’s zero net overseas migration (NOM) approach, Ms Wong has effectively provided a false binary choice. Of course, there is a third option: moderate immigration and much slower population growth.

Between 1946 and 2003, Australia’s population grew by 213,000 per year, which was manageable. However, after John Howard opened the immigration floodgates, Australia’s population growth was ramped-up to an average of 343,000 people between 2004 and 2015. Worse, the Intergenerational Report projects that Australia’s population will grow by an average of 394,000 people per year between 2016 and 2055, representing a further expansion in Australia’s immigration intake and nearly twice the post-war to 2003 level of population growth (see below chart).

ScreenHunter_15215 Oct. 02 18.45

Why is such an expanded immigration program more desirable than the one that existed prior to John Howard opening the floodgates?

Second, the so-called $7,000 in ‘benefits’ arising from the Productivity Commission’s (PC) modelling should be taken with a huge pinch of salt. As noted by the PC:

The Commission’s approach to policy development does not aim to increase growth in GDP or GDP per capita per se — it is to maximise the wellbeing of the Australian people. Changes in GDP per capita, while an important contributor to, do not necessarily equate with changes in community wellbeing.

While the modelling suggests that the Australian economy will benefit from migration in terms of higher GDP per person, whether migration delivers an overall benefit to the existing Australian community will also depend on other factors, including the distribution of those economic benefits, and the broader impacts of immigration, notably the associated social and environmental impacts.

New immigrants benefit from an increase in GDP through their own output but only that part of GDP that is transferred to the existing Australian community (Australian citizens and permanent residents) would be directly relevant to its material wellbeing. As the framework for assessing wellbeing centres primarily on the existing Australian community, merely raising GDP per capita does not provide an appropriate metric of successful policy…

The broader impacts from any increase in NOM also need to be taken into account. Increasing numbers of immigrants can adversely affect the quality of Australia’s natural and built environment unless governments take action to mitigate congestion and other pressures. Even with such action, there are additional costs for the community as environmental services have to be replaced with technological solutions…

Moreover, some environmental impacts, such as the recreational value of near empty beaches and the value of biodiversity, are hard to measure, let alone monetise. Yet, such considerations should be part of the broad cost-benefit assessment underpinning decisions on the long-term migrant intake.

Moreover, all of the reported gains to GDP from immigration come from the transitory “demographic dividend” from having a higher proportion of workers in the economy:

Assuming that net overseas migration (NOM) continues at the long-term historical average rate (0.6 per cent of the population), by 2060 Australia’s population is projected to grow to nearly 40 million, with NOM adding some 13 million people to the population.

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.

That’s right, beyond the forecast period (2060), the migrants will age and retire, thus dragging down future growth (other things equal) – classic ponzi demography.

This reported ‘demographic dividend’ also comes at the expense of lower real wages growth and reduced labour force productivity:

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.
ScreenHunter_14902 Sep. 12 16.24

Distributional impacts also matter: there is no point running a high immigration policy if it makes incumbent residents worse-off.

While the PC’s latest modelling does not undertake this analysis, its 2006 modelling did, and found that boosting skilled migration by 50% over the years 2005 to 2025 would actually lower the incomes of incumbent workers, while wealthy capital owners (and the migrants themselves) reap the gains:

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…

Having incumbent workers being made worse-off does not sound like an argument for ongoing mass immigration, does it?

The PC’s own report recommends some positive level of NOM – as do I – but this shouldn’t be assumed by Ms Wong that the current high growth settings are optimal:

Overall, the Commission considers that some positive rate of immigration within Australia’s absorptive capacity is likely to deliver net benefits to the Australian community over the long term. However, enhancing community-wide wellbeing is dependent on having an immigration system that attracts young and skilled people, and is responsive to economic, social and environmental conditions.

Finally, as alluded to by the PC above, the economic modelling does not take into account the negative externalities from immigration, including the so-called ‘lived experiences’ of:

  • Why you are continually stuck in traffic;
  • Why you cannot get a seat on a tram, train or bus;
  • Why you or your child cannot afford a home; and
  • Why your child’s school and hospitals are overcrowded.

These are all important considerations that have been completely ignored by Ms Wong in her speech. None have anything to do with race – i.e. where the migrants come from – but rather that the overall immigration intake is too high and has overwhelmed the capacity of the economy and infrastructure to absorb them, eroding individuals’ living standards in the process.

MB continues to call for a frank and honest national conversation about population policy, which focuses on raising the living standards of the existing population. Not the current ‘growth is good’ position that blindly assumes that mass immigration is beneficial, and seeks to maintain current high immigration settings and a ‘Big Australia’ in the absence of rigorous evidence nor community consultation and support.

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Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. A nice point of difference for MB would be to have a set of alternative wealth measures that matter to people other than useless GDP.

    • Yep re GDBP Bloody amazing! Not a sentence anywhere about the effect of immigration in the external account resulting in foreign debt, possible credit rating downgrades, loss of sovereignty and an ever increasing fragility of the whole financial system.
      Just bring in more migrants and boost Sydney /Melbourne house prices (Note: Prices not values!)

      GDBP Another flawsian invention GDBloodyP

      • I sent an email to Penny with some cut n paste plus m y comment re we all pay her to do her job for all all present Aus.
        Playing race card is dishonourable.

    • There is a massive GDP impact to Australia. And its measurable.
      The quality of the Permanent migrant intake is of great concern, it is way over our capacity to absorb it, and a large ratio of the intake are very unskilled (family reunion, arranged marriage frauds, old & sick) and non contributors who place an immediate or future long term burden on Australia.

      However i want to focus here on the Temporary Visa Migrant Guestworkers and that GDP and social impact.

      2.4 million – please remember this figure.

      Roy Morgan states both the unemployed and those underemployed is over twice the ABS estimate.
      Back In March 2016 when they did a direct comparison to the ABS.
      Roy Morgan : “This month’s unemployment has risen 1% to 11% – now at its highest since February 2015 and 5.2% higher than the current ABS figure for February 2016 (5.8%). The Roy Morgan unemployment rate increased in February & from 2005.
      2.433 million Australians (18.8% of the workforce) are either unemployed or under-employed”

      We have onshore in Australia at least 2 million plus migrant guestworkers on long stay temporary visas with work rights.
      That has been debated here but the figure is accurate.
      Almost all (apart from 457 or 10% fraction are very unskilled & many are often illiterate in their own native language.
      Foreign Criminal syndicates dominate in loan advances, procurement, and deployment of these migrant guestworkers into Australia on a variety of visa rackets for underground, black market, illicit & vice work, with widespread corruption & trafficking.
      So says the ex head of Australian Border Force Investigations as one of many sources.

      We then have at least 500,000 working illegally of the 8 million ‘short multiple stay or long stay (1 year) tourist visas.
      These are primarily very unskilled Asian & Indian ‘visitors’, here to work illegally and are starting to dominate in what is being picked up in the occasional or rare immigration detection.
      That adds to well over 2.4 million, unskilled, non assimilated migrant guestworkers here to work illegally & remit back that income to their foreign criminal procurers & loan agents.
      2.4 million. One in ten living here. One in five in our two main cities.
      In short – it’s 1 temporary visa migrant guestworker for every Australian (citizen or permanent resident) seeking work..

      These migrant guestworkers, here on an array and constant churn and extension of pretext temporary or tourist visas are creating a huge social & financial burden on our economy and society.

      Australian GDP Impact.
      These migrant guestworkers bring in at best $7 billion (Austrade/Tourist Australia).
      They form an underground, illegally working, untaxed, cash in hand black market onshore economy of over $105 billion.
      They remit back out of Australia over $36 billion – more than the USA to Mexico,
      Net Australian GDP impact -$29 billion, or just under -2% of our GDP of 1.6 Billion.
      The unemployment benefits we then pay out to unemployed Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents – 6.1 billion.
      So the GDP Impact to Australian in the current Temporary visa rackets is over -2% of GDP.
      That does not then include the housing, transport, education contention and congestion, public infrastructure, transport, roads or other community and public services impacts.

      This is why we need a Royal Commission into the whole temporary visa Migrant Guest=worker labour trafficking racket.

      I just want to focus in this comment on the Temporary Visa Guest-worker racket and that impact.

      • Hey Mike,
        worth reposting this in the weekend readings thread coming up. Things can get stale here.

    • Nah! Wong, by definition of this policy, wants unfettered foreign purchases of everything – mines, Ag land, houses, beachfront for hotel development, strategic and essential industry…we have to sell everything.

  2. Vote #1 Nation. 🙂

    Honestly what about lowering the cost of living for existing Australian’s? Or raising their wages? That way we could have more Children ourselves comfortably. I know right now I am thinking weather or not I want 1 or 2 kids and the cost of housing + kids is the biggest deterrent to having more than 1.

    • People like ms Wong basically want to eat your children, this country offers nothing to its citizens and everything to people born on the other side of the world

    • Massive immigration at levels that replaces the current population and turns them into a minority within their own country is genocide. A government’s primary concern should be with the wellbeing of its current citizens. Why do I always get the feeling that our politicians are not working for us?

    • I’m a big fan of hers but she is out right wrong on this one. When will the politicians realise there is a big mob of people out there who want progressive policies less the immigration. Heck the Greens would be a leading a government by now if they woke up to the fact that half of their own voters don’t agree with their immigration open door policy.

  3. Is she saying PM May is wrong to cut immigration?

    Why do AUS degrees have to be dumbed down?

    Why must AUS let in exam cheats?

    Why can we not have a 5 year pause on immigration and see how we go.

    Thanks for the lack of democracy. Gillard said on TV that she wants not a big AUS. Yet Gillard kept printing 457 visas like crazy.

  4. China has a history of relocating Han Chinese to countries to assimilate them into China eg how they moved thousands of people to Tibet. No doubt the Chinese govt could stop money flowing out of china and into Australian real estate. This is likely a subtle attempt by china to get a foothold in Australia. That and by the Aust govt throwing assets at them to buy.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      If the Chinese government can stop capital outflow without killing off foreign trade, they would have done it already. Not to say that Chinese doesn’t do colonization, but in Australia, look at the census data. There will soon be more Indians than Chinese!!

  5. Well I´ll be damned, Australian politicians are opting for the lunatics to take over the asylum. Humans…

  6. hmmm seems to me that there are three possibilities
    -when your human capital is productive you naturally want more human capital, which can be delivered through immigration
    – when your additional human capital is unproductive than you want less human capital which suggests zero or negative immigration
    – when your human capital is Australia level unproductive than you actually want very few people (individual wealth = resources divided by people)
    Maybe the real problem is with the macro social and economic settings that make Aussie human capital so unproductive.

    • Come on China-Bob….

      For decades productivity went parabolic yet became more detached from the vast majority of its participants, the data is exceedingly clear, only to get sucked into the gravity well of the egregiously wealthy [individuals and C-corps].

      Disheveled Marsupial…. come on… non directional vectors… almost 500 billionaires in America… poor allocation of capital… increasingly going virtual…. and the inevitable lack of or sustainable demand resulting in a death loop..

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      Thats where I am at. Neither Penny Wong (for whom I have a fair bit of time on many issues) nor any other politician wants to really put immigration into a genuine economic narrative in Australia. Its all at this pap level ‘spurs GDP’ rubbish.

      Either Australia has an economic narrative which requires or facilitates immigration or it doesnt

      Currently Australia lives off what it digs out of the ground or grows on top of it, which employs maybe 5% of the people here tops. The other 95% require a government policy transfer of one sort or another (direct transfer, taxation settings etc). Wong (and Irvine, and Kohler, and all the pro immigration crowd) are talking about growing that section of society which requires government support and does nothing whatsoever to make us more prosperous or more productive.

      • But I thought we were importing people because we don’t have the skills or knowledge to take the country to the next level (presumably of innovation etc). The local knowledge simply doesn’t exist here, so we import them and first provide them with education in one of our top class universities. The self interest and hypocrisy is breathtaking.

      • Actually I don’t disagree, I’m just unsure how long it (Aussie immigration levels) will continue to be our decision.
        Like I’ve said before: the surest way to get replaced as a CEO is to fail to properly implement a good (or even reasonable) policy. When Australians fail to deliver what the world requires of us, and our land/resources, history suggests they get impatient and eventually find their own solutions.

      • “”The other 95% require a government policy transfer of one sort or another (direct transfer, taxation settings etc). Wong (and Irvine, and Kohler, and all the pro immigration crowd) are talking about growing that section of society which requires government support and does nothing whatsoever to make us more prosperous or more productive.””

        And that 95% basically demand and get a higher living standard than the 5% !!! That’s how its been and how it will continue to accelerate with much of that higher living standard financed by selling off the 5%! What could possibly go Wong?

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        “Actually I don’t disagree, I’m just unsure how long it (Aussie immigration levels) will continue to be our decision.”

        “fail to deliver what the world requires of us, and our land/resources, history suggests they get impatient and eventually find their own solutions.”

        Sounds like an argument to nuclear arm Australia, Bob.

        Its not as though North Korea has been delivering the world what it “requires of them”

      • Wong ignores the impact of an ever expanding population on the natural environment.
        She implicitly says that immigrants are smarter then local born
        She ignores the mounting negative externalities that come from overcrowding
        She ignores the loss of biodiversity that comes with ever more people
        She is willingly ignorant of a loss of social, environmental and economic resilience that comes from having a sustainable population, verses and ever expanding population.
        She pays no attention to the finite nature of Australia’s non-renewable and slowly renewing resources, which she would happily exhaust.
        She ignores the fact that Japan, which is not a diverse community, has been one of the most innovative and successful societies ever, and the same could be said for Norway and Sweden, at least up until the past decade when immigration has somewhat weakened that community.

      • Its not as though North Korea has been delivering the world what it “requires of them”
        That statement would indicate a rather naive understanding of North Korea’s function. Hint it really hasn’t changed much in over 50 years and there’s a reason that it hasn’t changed, because North Korea serves a purpose as a very important buffer region and a focus point for any proxy war.

    • when your human capital is productive you naturally want more human capital

      You failed to define “productive”. More immigrants is very productive for elites in obtaining more ShortTerm dollars for themselves. That seems to be what they want.

    • Correct China Bob
      For one thing the inputs into productivity measurement so lovingly referred to through earlier years are mostly BS in terms of producing a productive balanced economy. Many factors that are actually way negative are put in as, at least 1 to 1 and often positive Financialisation is a prime example here. However rating all government regulation as either positive or 1 to 1 is somewhere out in lala land as well!

  7. Penny Wong is just another SJW driven by ego and arrogance, hell bent on saving all the ills of the world while destroying it at the same time.

    • Dan and Malcom, Malcolm and Dan. Pray do tell, who has the “right” in your wise opinion? IMHO it would be the native inhabitants of Australia who would promptly tell you to go back yo the dreary island you came off. So easy with the drivel (particularly you Mal).

      • We will soon find ourselves in the same position as the native inhabitants of Australia. Pray tell me how massive immigration and diversity was a good thing for Indigenous Australians? The problem is that it is impossible to turn back the clock, but we still have time to prevent a future act of genocide against Australia’s current population.

      • Doesn´t change the logic Charles. The moment bigots dictate policy you get disastrous outcomes. Penny Wong´s policies can be argued and torn without attacking the person or their ancestry, and the failure of some (not just this pair) to do so speaks loudly about their ability to think. As to “turning back the clock”, there is no such thing. The people who are here now, even those who arrived this morning, have come under a policy, as misguided as it may be, was and is the law. Suck it up and correct the policy but you don´t get to “erase” your mistakes. This looks like the path to Brexit and the loons at the helm.

      • Get a grip Jason. My ridiculous rag got pulled as I knew it would so try to contain you’re outrage. Irony is clearly not your strong suit.
        And forget the bleeding heart bleating of the “first australians” meme buddy, it’s such a spurious argument as to attach not a wiff of reality. Considering some of the bile on this site and what goes for “informed” comment my jibes are quite passe’. But carry on recreating history if it makes you feel superior. Try hard enough and we might need a plebiscite!

    • This is why we can’t ever have this debate. There may well be good arguments for reducing immigration levels, but we won’t hear them because the racists always dominate the discussion.

      • What debate would that be DT?
        Dan and I made outrageous comments for entertainment. Like you and others busy smelling their own farts couldn’t see the irony in it all so dropped into the void like lemmings.
        Lighten up a bit sport!

      • DT: “This is why we can’t ever have this debate. There may well be good arguments for reducing immigration levels, but I won’t hear them because as an anti-racist I will always dominate the discussion.”
        FTFY

      • Oh right – we should just let racism go unchecked and not call it out? Brave stance Merk. Tell the kids that’s the way we handle it.

  8. To UEs list of costs there is another side of an inflated housing (land ) cost.
    Business cost structures and miss-allocation towards otherwise un necessary infrastucture and housing.
    Anyone tried getting a business loan lately?

  9. Well said Leith
    Funny how the population boosters don’t want to talk numbers
    3000 words on open borders and not one mention of what a sustainable prudent population level is
    Is it 30m Penny? 50m? 100m? 300m?
    Endless population growth to what end?
    Destruction of native habitat and species for an extra fraction of a percent of GDP growth.
    Our millions of new residents will learn about our biological diversity in a museum
    Rolling environmental degradation so Penny can lecture us on the “right thing to do”
    Wong represents everything that is wrong with Labor on this
    She is Rudd #2
    Where is Kelvin Thompson?

  10. Penny Wong is just wrong about everything outside the narrow confines of the workings of the law and polirical processes. An impossibly arrogant ignoramus who doesn’t even realise that free trade deals are actually preferential treaties that damage trade and give the advantage to the corporates. Her greatest skill Is in her eloquent, confident, facile bon mots, perfect for tv. A perfect parliamentarian. A facile, sophisticated, highly ambitious clown. She sums up everything wrong with our irredeemably broken political system.

  11. Back yourself Penny.
    Commit to discretionary increases in population only when measurable international environmental, health and education benchmarks are reached and maintained .

  12. Lots of Trump hyperbole and personal attacks today. Claims of outnumbering Anglos being “genocide” is deeply offensive to Armenians, Jews, several African ethnic groups, and probably many native peoples, including Australian indigenous.
    I suspect the moderator may soon face some choices about the tone of the blog what its publication standards for comments will be.

    • The standard of this site has been going downhill dramatically lately. The bigots seem to have discovered the sustainable population argument and set up camp. Some moderator action would be good – there are plenty of places for them elsewhere.

      • No but people, with obviously limited life experience and range of friends, who consider that they have the equivalent of papal infallibilityon all matters and the inherent belief that what they think should be righteously forced on others for the ‘good of humanity'”, or whatever cause, frighten the living crap out of me!!

    • “”Lots of Trump hyperbole and personal attacks today. “”

      Absolutley!!!! We need to send them all off to gender neutering re-education camps…NOW! Let’s stop all this stupid outrageous right for these deplorables to speak and get on with it!!!!

      • Take your freedom fighting nonsense elsewhere. You still have the freedom to speak wherever you want.

        Being blocked from a website doesn’t affect your human rights.

      • Wow! Tone Policing. That is one of the most interesting things I have read for a while. You might be wasting your time giving it to DT and friends – i don’t think they are the “irony” types.

        If you ever read literature from a century or so ago, you notice that it is quite precise and of elaborate construction. Some of the essays of Bertrand Russel or Somerset Maugham or Bronte sisters for example. Logical and flowing. Contrast this to the tedious and petty push and shove of the tone policers and guardians of right thinking. Orwell must be having a laugh somewhere.

      • What do you mean? A large part of 1984 was about the use of language to control the population and prevent them from forming opinions. Your one liner there is very much like word soup. Perhaps you should endeavour to be more disciplined in your thinking.

    • I don’t think we really need moderation by the site owners, but we could really do with up/down vote buttons for comments. At least people can register their displeasure with racist comments without having to reply to every single one of them.

    • It is far better to have ideas exposed to the light of day, where they can be engaged with, examined and countered. Censorship is almost always problematic because one person’s “bigotry” is another person’s “self evident truth”. Setting arbitrary standards of acceptable discourse based on someone’s personal opinion would be a huge mistake.

      Furthermore, censoring people doesn’t make their views go away, it just means that those views aren’t presented to the world for discussion. So it seems to the censors that the world is entirely agreeable to their views, their delicate sensitivities are preserved and the world is full of unicorns farting rainbows when that is not actually the case. I’d like to see what everybody has to say and I don’t want MB to become a bloody safe space where views that might piss me off are kept from me.

      I do agree with Kevin that a “like” button on the site would be sweet.

      • @DT I’d be very surprised if you could point to anything I’ve ever written here that indicates that racism and bigotry are worthwhile ideas.

      • Also definitely need a dislike button as well, otherwise disgusting comments would look exactly like new comments.

      • One problem is that some people bring up the same ideas over and over and over and over and over again – occasionally with a slight semantic modification – regardless of how frequently they are engaged, examined and countered, which drowns out discussion.

        The textbook contemporary example of this being climate change deniers.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      If MB became just another eco chamber, that would be a great loss.

      The use of the “freedom to not be offended” to suppress “freedom of speech” is a slippery slope towards the policing of “thought crime”

  13. DT it would be cool to be as smart as you. We don’t want free speech, we want a DT filter for allowable comments. Keep up the good work champ!

    • See comment above.

      Freedom of speech means you can say what you want without getting arrested. It doesn’t mean freedom of consequences or criticism, and it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with racist drivel on a website.

      • @DT – by all means provide the critique and the ridicule to counter rubbish arguments put forward here BUT appealing to the moderator is way past providing critique, its actually attempting to censor (by proxy).
        Appealing to some higher power for censorship or redaction should never be the avenue taken
        Its incumbent on you to construct a better argument, simple as!

      • If you owned an upmarket bar and found that every night it was being over-run by loud, obnoxious people in stubbies and barefeet who annoyed your regular patrons, you might decide that you are going to have a dress-code or to stop selling particular types of drinks. People are still free to be obnoxious and wear stubbies, just not in your bar. Otherwise you could find that the people who made your bar good in the first place stop coming, because it’s not the kind of place they want to drink at.

        It’s obviously not my decision. I’m just the guy going up to the manager saying “Any chance of doing something about this? It’s ruining the atmosphere”.

      • cracking analogy, I like it. However, are you sure you aren’t being the person who complains to the chairman of the golf club about the new member who has an arm tattoo and how if we don’t do something now we’ll be overrun by “bogans”?

      • I don’t think I am. I’d like to think that if they are decent people I’d be happy to overlook the arm tattoos (“some of my best friends have arm tattoos”).

        But maybe I am that guy – and the chairman might tell me that this is what the golf club is now, in which case I’ll have to either accept it or move on. In real life the racist guy sitting at the bar shouting at foreigners is usually removed pretty quickly.

      • Nothing to do with homogeneity. All sorts of people would be welcome at my bar.

        It’s more like a “no d%ckheads” policy.

      • You have asserted bigotry (not a crime and nor am I endorsing it ) and racism. Where? You saw something you didn’t like and then cried racism as far as I can tell. Then call for censorship – power in other words – to fight the phantom you created from whole cloth. You are fitting a stereotype yourself when you do this. Again, where is the actual RACISM. Its a serious accusation and not something tolerated on this website. Prove your accusation or are you simply a troublemaker?

      • It’s not just one night at the bar.

        Today it was “go back to Malaysia” – this was not written in jest, and it comes from someone with a track record. Now below we have a pun on “wong” – are people really that ignorant of racism? Need any more examples? Another day it’s anti-Muslim. It’s a regular and recurring theme in the comments. People are free to think what they want – but do the moderators really want this kind of dialogue here?

      • Interesting…if I remember correctly, it was a pun on the word ‘wong’, or something pretty similar that at one time got Bluebird banned. Makes you wonder if there has been a shift in thinking.


  14. First, by comparing current immigration settings to One Nation’s zero net overseas migration (NOM) approach, Ms Wong has effectively provided a false binary choice. Of course, there is a third option: moderate immigration and much slower population growth.

    The third option is possible, sure, but no one currently in Parliament is advocating it or even aknowleding its existence. Given the LNP and ALP are basically united on NOM levels, and Greens appear to have no position, there’s nothing false about using One Nation’s position as a binary choice if your job is to defend the ALP’s position. As far as the Australian voter is concerned, there were only two choices on NOM available at the last ballot, and all the signs are that will still be the case at the next ballot.

      • They can push all they want – the unpopularity of immigration is only going to increase as the lack of infrastructure development bites harder, and our traditional sources of immigration dry up with Africa becoming the dominant source.

      • Agree. However the push will be under the banner of trying to negate an agequake focal costs. Penny made this spurious claim already.

  15. No wonder Labor appointed then protected Brian Wilson and ran obstruction on the FIRB inquiry
    Throw Ed Husic and Jim Chalmers in the same pot
    Make no mistake, high population growth is Labor policy from the top down

  16. As a child of migrants who grew up in a provincial city where there were barely any migrants I resent Senator Wong’s assertion that migration brings “cultural enrichment”. Not saying that it does not bring cultural enrichment but hey Senator, it’s a two way street. My dad always told us about Australia when we were growing up in the 1970s “This is the best country in the world.” Senator Wong’s use of the term “cultural enrichment” implies that the culture before the post war waves of migration was deficient and poor and needed “enrichment” from migration. That the country my dad migrated to in the 1950s, my mum in the 1960s was culturally deficient. I will simply say bull. Our family grew up almost exclusively around Anglo Celt background Australians, in other words around people who lived here or whose parents lived here before World War Two and before the first large waves of migration. It was a working class area. I am sorry but I dont see why working class Australia in the 1970s when I grew up needed any “cultural enrichment.” I find it very offensive. My family was welcomed as equals, I grew up an Aussie with an especial love for cricket, my parents knew nothing about cricket. My dad became a golf fanatic after he was too old to play soccer. He had good Aussie golfing mates, I can not remember any cultural issues impeding the friendship, nor do I remember his golfing mates were in need of the “cultural enrichment” my dad as a migrant could offer. My dad was just a sport mad bloke like them, no he didnt drink much but that didnt seem to affect his golfing friendships, he had a beer after a round at the club house and returned home. He went all over the district playing golf with those blokes, his golfing “mates.” The Aussie culture then was optimistic and the she’ll be right attitude predominated. People could afford a house and felt for the most part that hard work could get you somewhere. My parents bought a house in 1972 for $13,000. Well look at us now —- after our “cultural enrichment.” Senator Wong, please stop insulting pre-migration Anglo Celt Australian culture, it was in no need of “enrichment” because it was not poor or deficient in the first place. Sure, I still love my parents original country and if the “culturally enriched” Australia keeps on taking the direction it is, I will be going back there to live. Australia is not the country I grew up in I am very sad to say, one reason amongst others is that the original Australian culture as I grew up in from the 1970s, is increasingly labelled as deficient and in need of enrichment which is just a shabby pretext in of itself. This enrichment fallacy is a just a shabby pretext for more corporation enriching waves of unsustainable migration, I am surprised so many people fall for this enrichment rubbish. Farewell to 1970s Australia I grew up in, it appears that you were deficient, the culture where working people could afford a house needed “enriching”, where migration levels were sustainable and where working people were optimistic about their future, their “she’ll be right on the night” attitude, needed “enrichment.” Well, that’s news to me.

    • There were a lot of good things about Australia at that time – but it was far from perfect. The white Australia policy was still a thing and Aboriginal children were being forcibly removed from their parents. I still remember Asian and Greek kids being beaten up in the playground for being “chinks” and “wogs”. We started to change that but now it’s gone backwards.

      You’re right – maybe we are missing some of the best aspects of that era. Like the acceptance and openness we started to show to migrants, the way we began to shift the focus from Britain towards Asia (remember when boat people were welcomed by both sides of politics?). The welcome and acceptance that your family received is very different to what many migrants experience today even from elected representatives.

      • @DT – there is an irrational fear of boat people in parts of this country, no doubt. BUT being realistic there is a fixed amount either over time or per annum of refugees Australia can take, that is self evident and beyond debate. I personally don’t know what that number is. Regardless, with that being the case can you explain why someone who jumped on a boat and circumvented an accepted process deserves priority over someone who, by all likelihood is living in fear for themselves and their family in a foreign country eg. Somali’s waiting in Nairobi, has waited patiently in the process? I can’t fathom why, when there is advocacy for boat people, there is no consideration given to those who are sitting in queues elsewhere in the world. As is the case the spots are limited, why does arriving on a boat, despite the bravery, elevate your priority? Can you articulate that for us all?

      • If only that was the discussion that Australia was having – how do we best deal with the worldwide refugee crisis? There isn’t some ordered process for refugees. Some are in camps because that was where they could get to. Others are on boats because they couldn’t get to camps. It clearly needs a broad international agreement.

        But that’s not what people are arguing about. I guarantee if there were boatloads of white Brits or Americans (maybe there will be after the election) we wouldn’t be locking them up indefinitely.

      • I understand there is an UN international agreement already in place, hence why the Navy tries to return the boats they come across to the point of departure. There is an actual process for refugee resettlement for sure and you don’t need to get to a camp to have it consider your case. You only need to get to an embassy or consulate. So it perplexes me why you would pass through up to 4 countries to jump on a boat in Indonesia, especially if you have a legitimate case. For instance, some refugees from the Tamil community in Sri Lanka who went via India, Burma, Thailand just to get to Indonesia to then jump on a boat.

        Edit: good overview here http://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/publication/%E2%80%98turning-back-boats%E2%80%99
        Consequently, it’s not as clear as I initially thought

      • Yes it is complex. I wish I knew what the solution was – and wish there was some dialogue about it in this country.

      • DT yes I should have acknowledged those social issues around race that you highlighted. It was not perfect. However I still think the starting point of Senator Wong’s argument that migrants bring “cultural enrichment” imples that there was some sort of “cultural deficiency” that needed repairing. I dont agree, it was a different culture, it was not necessarily an inferior culture just because it was different.

      • Regardless, with that being the case can you explain why someone who jumped on a boat and circumvented an accepted process deserves priority over someone who, by all likelihood is living in fear for themselves and their family in a foreign country […]

        Why do you think people prepared to risk their lives fleeing are not in fear for their lives ?

        eg. Somali’s waiting in Nairobi, has waited patiently in the process? I can’t fathom why, when there is advocacy for boat people, there is no consideration given to those who are sitting in queues elsewhere in the world. As is the case the spots are limited, why does arriving on a boat, despite the bravery, elevate your priority? Can you articulate that for us all?

        It is comically and grotesquely dishonest to claim there is no consideration given to refugees overseas. Especially when it is the stop-the-boats types who are trying to create an artificial division of different types of refugees.

        Refugees are processed in terms of need. Note that Australia is the only country that draws a distinction between “refugees who come from camps” and “refugees who arrive on their own” and thus has any concept of a “queue” to “jump”.

        Who should have priority in your book ? A child whose parents were killed, was subject to multiple rapes or forced to be a child soldier and is at risk of further persecution and death in their homeland, who happens to arrive on a boat, or someone who has suffered no harm, left their homeland through an orderly evacuation into a UN-run refugee camp and is in no immediate or medium-term danger ? Why, in your mind, should we prioritise the second person over the first ?

        If a woman covered in blood screaming she’s just been raped runs into your house, do you kick her out because she didn’t ring the doorbell and wait for you to answer ?

        So it perplexes me why you would pass through up to 4 countries to jump on a boat in Indonesia, especially if you have a legitimate case. For instance, some refugees from the Tamil community in Sri Lanka who went via India, Burma, Thailand just to get to Indonesia to then jump on a boat.

        Well, the most obvious reason is because none of India, Burma, Thailand or Indonesia are signatories to the UN Refugee Convention, while Australia is.

      • @drsmithy – if I didn’t specifically mention something it doesn’t mean I lack advocacy for it, your comments addressed:
        Why do you think people prepared to risk their lives fleeing are not in fear for their lives ? No doubt they are, its not lost on me BUT I wasn’t valuing that incentive to jump on a boat especially, I assumed it was a base case for seeking to become a refugee for all cases in the first place.

        Australia is the only country….. Rubbish, its the same in the Scandinavian countries and the UK to name but a very few. Research why people trying to get into Norway bother to go to the most northern border with Russia and specifically ride bikes across the border…. Australia is not alone there

        none of India, Burma, Thailand or Indonesia …. utterly irrelevant to the point I was making. Each of those countries has an Australian immigration representation at the respective embassy. I wasn’t giving extra value for endangering yourself further when you could just get internal travel straight to one of our embassies in India/Burma/Thailand/Indonesia.

        Who should have priority in your book?…. child whose parents were killed, was subject to multiple rapes or forced to be a child soldier and is at risk of further persecution and death in their homeland – what about that same fact pattern but they are sitting in Nairobi (didn’t get on the boat) You tell me who, between two people with the same fact pattern who gets the priority? The boat arrival because they were “brave” ? Because of resources being limited, you can’t chose both, only one. Me? Chose the person who was in Nairobi probably because they were in the process.

      • @drsmithy – sorry I forgot this one…. a woman covered in blood screaming she’s just been raped runs into your house, do you kick her out because she didn’t ring the doorbell and wait for you to answer….
        Should I kick her out if she has ran 5km from the scene straight past 4 opening and fully operational police stations and countless hospitals?….. I’d certainly have my suspicions as to why she didn’t take her previous opportunity to invoke a process elsewhere.

      • No doubt they are, its not lost on me BUT I wasn’t valuing that incentive to jump on a boat especially, I assumed it was a base case for seeking to become a refugee for all cases in the first place.

        Sorry, I can’t parse what you are trying to say here.

        Your implication was that people coming via boats are somehow less in fear of their lives, or in less danger, than people sitting in camps. Why do you think that is true ?

        Australia is the only country […]

        I said nothing about Australia being “the only country”.

        You asked why they didn’t stop at those countries on the way to Australia. The reason they don’t stop is because those countries have no legal obligation to help them because those countries are not signatories to the UN Refugee Convention. They *might* help them. Or they might throw them into a gaol to rot until they die. Or they might deliver them back to the people they were fleeing from. Or they might let them filter into the local population to be exploited by the kinds of predators who just love people with neither options nor legal rights (because, hey, if you’re going to let kids fall into the sex trafficking business, you can at least do a nod to patriotism and make sure its mostly foreign kids).

        none of India, Burma, Thailand or Indonesia …. utterly irrelevant to the point I was making.

        It is 100% relevant to the question you asked, which was ‘why don’t they stop there’.

        Each of those countries has an Australian immigration representation at the respective embassy. I wasn’t giving extra value for endangering yourself further when you could just get internal travel straight to one of our embassies in India/Burma/Thailand/Indonesia.

        What if they can’t get to the embassy because whenever they are found they get picked up, driven to the nearest border and turfed out ? You know, kind of like how we try to do when we manage to intercept them before they reach our territorial waters.

        You do understand the whole point of the boat turn-back policy is to prevent asylum seekers from falling into our legal jurisdiction and thus the obligations we have under the Refugee Convention, right ? We’re basically trying to build a fence the blood-covered woman screaming rape can’t scale so we don’t have to worry about what to do with her when she runs in.

        Remember, these countries have zero legal obligations to assist anyone trying to claim asylum. So their leaders can do all the stuff our collection of evil psychopaths _want_ to do, but are prevented from doing by pesky things like treaties and laws (and, decreasingly, public approval).

        You tell me who, between two people with the same fact pattern who gets the priority? The boat arrival because they were “brave” ? Because of resources being limited, you can’t chose both, only one. Me? Chose the person who was in Nairobi probably because they were in the process.

        You flip a coin. Because the person arriving by boat is just as much “in the process” as the person in a camp on the other side of the world.

        But even if that comes up for the one in Nairobi, it doesn’t mean you take the one on Nauru and dump them back in whatever country they last exited.

        But we’ve come back to the first implicit argument you made. On what basis do you believe people arriving by boat are all less persecuted than people sitting in camps ?

        Should I kick her out if she has ran 5km from the scene straight past 4 opening and fully operational police stations and countless hospitals?

        She hasn’t. She’s run through a series of seedy back alleys.

      • blacktwin997MEMBER

        Not so much, even though cultural enrichment has resulted in many more flavours of toast available for butter application.

  17. Not surprising to see Senator Wong to repeat the ignorant line that all capital inflows are investment and thereby implying that that they all are productive.

    If she wants to know why people are reacting to greater freedom in trade in goods and services and in the movement of people she should pay more attention to the fact that most Free Trade Agreements are anything but and pay more attention to the use of capital flows by our trading partners to gain an unfair advantage.

    Senator Wong claims that people are opposed to sunshine and mother’s milk when what she is actually promoting is stormy weather and bitter lemon.

    https://pfh007.com/2016/11/09/aud-watch-the-rocket-keeps-rising-and-keeps-burning-off-australian-jobs-and-industries/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      Another thing about her which kind of annoys me is her propensity to taking offence combined with an almost supernatural PC-based immunity to criticism as a Malaysian lesbian IVF parent.

      • Wow black thingy, I said that and the post was deleted and then I got DT and all the other crowd on my back. How come you got away with it. I assume you are jesting BTW.

  18. “This is a kind of ‘liberal class’ virtue quest. This is not politics. It’s an imitation of politics. It only feels political, yes it’s highly moralistic, it sets up an easy melodrama of good versus bad, it allows you to make all kinds of judgements about people you disagree with, but ultimately it’s a diversion, a way of putting across a neoliberal policy program while avoiding any sincere discussion of the policies in question”.

    That’s a quote from the excellent read “Listen Liberal or whatever happened to the party of the people”. by Thomas Frank.

    My Pennies worth; Penny Wong is on song.

  19. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    Ive been a big fan of Penny in the past and think she makes a good roll modle to young women (like my daughter) by not playing to all the fashion competition bullshit the other female pollies play with dress, she dresses to work as should the rest of em,…but I digress,..I thought Ms Wong was supposed to be in the left faction of the party!
    Her speach could have been delivered by any member of the coalition! and not sounded out of place,…Very disappointing Penny.

    If the left faction of the Labor party can’t challange this Neoliberalism, then No party can or will.

    Its time to Join up people and help to shake some sence into these Carreist politicians, who are locked away in their echo chambers.
    They are elected to Represent OUR interest, not their own pet projects.
    Its the Angry young commenters here (im looking at you Mig) that need to join the party, and start making cunts of yourselves,…its the only way!

    • Ermo – one of these days we should catch for a coffee at Portico – my email address is @hotmail.com and the first bit is quite predictable.

  20. @Many
    Lots of trolling, hate and racism will change the tenor and perception of the blog from serious to nutter fest. That may or may not be what a blog that wants to launch an investment fund will want. Maybe there is a great demand for a fund with an associated blog with lots of hate speech and racism, Trump’s success might seem to indicate there is, but many of his supporters are lower socio-economic with relatively small investable funds, if any.
    Its a question for the owners/editors as to what they will tolerate/encourage on their site.
    The current amount is not too bad and the very worst gets moderated. I’m talking about a possible trend.
    You can still talk about immigration issues and races/ethnic background, culture in a way that might offend and insult under section 18D. It is quite alright I think to say that immigration ought be discouraged from cultures that don’t accept Australian value and broad cultural practices. It is probably fine in a debate on immigration to say that we should only accept Anglos or Europeans as they will add a lot more value and adapt far more readily.

    RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 – SECT 18D
    Exemptions
    Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:
    (a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or
    (b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or
    (c) in making or publishing:
    (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
    (ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

    https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/race-discrimination/projects/glance-racial-vilification-under-sections-18c-and-18d-racial
    What does the law say?

    Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for someone to do an act that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity.

    Section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act contains exemptions which protect freedom of speech. These ensure that artistic works, scientific debate and fair comment on matters of public interest are exempt from section 18C, providing they are said or done reasonably and in good faith.

    • Let me state this loud and clear. MB infrequently checks comments (it’s nearly 10pm and I am reading these for the first time in 13 hours). We simply do not have time and rely on you all to behave yourselves.

    • The current rate of immigration will be too high just after they rezone my land to high density!
      The current rate of immigration will be too low when I lose my job in construction!
      The current rate of immigration will be too high when my kids can’t get into uni!
      The current rate of immigration will be too low when my super stops growing because there is no population boosted increase in listed company profits.
      The current rate of immigration will be too high when I die while waiting in Emergency for attention after an accident because the service is overwhelmed!