Turnbull deploys Howard’s immigration ‘bait-and-switch’

By Leith van Onselen

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s weekend address to the media revealed plans to amend the Migration Act to stop asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being granted residency in Australia:

“…a harmonious multicultural society depends on the Australian Government being in control of its borders. And it depends on us sending a united and concerted answer to the people smugglers that if they seek to bring people to Australia, those passengers will never settle in this country. That absolutely, unflinching, unequivocal message has to be loud and clear”.

Sound familiar? It is the exact same approach adopted by former Prime Minister John Howard when he performed a ‘bait-and-switch’ on the Australian people whereby he slammed the door shut on the relatively small number of refugees arriving into Australia by boat all the while stealthily shoving open the door to economic migrants arriving here by plane.

The ultimate result was a massive lift in Australia’s net migration intake, which surged from the mid-2000s and pushed population growth to roughly twice long-run norms. Moreover, the official projections are for this high intake to persist at least until mid-century (see next chart).

ScreenHunter_15804 Oct. 31 13.50

Much of this immigration has flowed into the two major cities – Sydney and Melbourne – whose populations have ballooned (see next chart).

ScreenHunter_13129 May. 26 08.54

Again, the official projections are for both major cities to grow at a breakneck pace for decades to come (see below charts).

ScreenHunter_15805 Oct. 31 13.53 ScreenHunter_15806 Oct. 31 13.53

It is the above massive increase in population that is the key reason why many of us living in the major cities are stuck in traffic, cannot get a seat on the train, are experiencing crowded hospitals and schools, and/or cannot afford a home.

The net result of this “Big Australia” policy is that living standards are being eroded as the capacity of the economy and infrastructure to absorb all of the extra people is overwhelmed, and the country’s natural resources base is diluted among more people.

John Howard never explicitly mentioned that he was in favour of high immigration because he knew the electorate would be against it. Instead, he scapegoated refugees to give the impression that he was stemming the migrant inflow while proceeding in secret with his ‘Big Australia’ plan.

Rather than being honest with the electorate, the Rudd/Gillard Governments and the Abbott/Turnbull Governments continued the subterfuge. There has never been any community consultation, any national discussion, nor any mandate to proceed with turbo-charged levels of immigration.

And now we have Turnbull once again resorting to Howard’s play book, scapegoating refugees while he opens the door even wider to economic migrants arriving here by plane.

Under rules announced during Turnbull’s visit to China in April, from 1 July 2016, students aged 6 and up as well as their guardians are able to apply for student visas. These rule changes will add even greater pressures on Australia’s primary schools, as well as place more strain on the housing market and infrastructure. Indeed, Chinese international-property portal, Juwai.com, stated that there has been a nearly 20% jump in inquiries for properties in Australia since Turnbull’s April announcement.

The Turnbull Government has also announced that from 1 July 2017, a new parental visa will be introduced that will allow migrants to bring into Australia their elderly parents, thus further ageing the population and placing even more strain on Australia’s healthcare system and infrastructure.

Australia desperately needs a frank and honest national conversation about population policy, which focuses on whether or not large-scale immigration is benefiting the living standards of the existing population. Not the dishonest ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach employed by Malcolm Turnbull, which deliberately conflates the immigration intake with refugees.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. Excellent.

    Look on the bright side. no bad idea ever dies. hence the howard meme is reborn, to cynically be used by turnbull to bolster natinal security credentials while doing nothing about the ponzi.

    Of course, the example of Australia will be cited in some european country. This will later evolve into a expedited right of return to africa/the middle east for the large numbers of tourists in Europe.

    Amusingly enough, a trump victory crashes the world economy anyways. RE craters taking the banks with it, but as this has happened in europe also, turnbull escapes all blame. his strong natonal security stances cements his place in history in an uncertain world.

    your kids will ask you what it was like when truffles was pm. enjoy…

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Apparently Peter Dutton has confirmed the ban will apply to ALL refugee that has ever settled anywhere, and will include tourist visas. So any Vietnamese refugee that settled in other countries will be banned from entering Australia, forever. It also applies to those currently in Australia on a bridging visa : what is going to happen to them? dump them into the sea? If there is a place to send them back to they would be there already.
      This is so blatantly unworkable and stupid I don’t think Turnbull ever expects it to pass.

      • Yeah. The Governor General of South Australia is a Vietnamese boat refugee. I wonder how he feels this morning.

  2. ceteris paribus

    Surely this determined Government population push lifts the possibility that property prices just might push on further, particularly at preferred migrant destinations. Add in low interest rates, which according to MB are likely to go lower, and Government intransigence in pulling back investor tax incentives and the housing bubble in Melbourne and Sydney just may run on, might it not? Is a “buy and flip” blow off phase still possible? Will we see US 2007 ads by owners which request “an offer to make me move”?
    I know MB is saying the end is nigh for the Melbourne and Syney housing bubbles; but given the environment, who knows how much this market has left in it? I am simply asking the question, of course. I would never, never encourage anyone to leverage heavily into inflated property markets at this time.

    • I think you’re right. Property prices will push on further – that’s the whole idea behind this massive immigration scheme.

  3. Howard got away with it because Sydney and Melbourne were not shitholes ten years ago, now that they are I don’t think do nothing will get away with it

    • Yep. Now that the boats have stopped, the bogan voters have finally realised that the aircraft people are the problem.

      And Turnbull is down in the polls.

  4. Nailed it Leith.

    But it is not just some voters who are suffering but most voters. As most live in the capital cities and have to suffer an overcrowded job market, overcrowded trains, roads, schools.

  5. Gillard said in a 2010 TV ad “I do not want a big AUS but a sustainable AUS”. And then we voted for her but she kept printing 457 visas like crazy!

    She had also lied about not wanting to be PM. Juliar.

    • Turnbull is PM NOW. Gillard was PM years ago. Why do you use the latter to excuse and distract from the former. You really can’t think past ‘blame Labor’.

      Stop distracting and obfuscating, and address the issues.

      • This year I voted for the SAP and ONP ahead of the LNP and ALP.

        I cannot do anything else to change government policy.

        AUS has slipped so hard on the corruption index under Abbott and Gillard that Britain and Canada are ranked better!

      • Isn’t the corruption index built on the perceptions of foreigners? I’d say the corruption index is a very long way behind the reality in all the countries you mentioned, but especially Oz.. Just from a disinterested historical perspective, it’s amazing to watch how fast a country can destroy itself out of sheer greed. As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head..

      • Both parties are committed to growing the population as urgently and rapidly as possible, and both parties are committed to growing the housing bubble.

  6. Zero population growth will increase personal wealth, greatly reduce property prices, stimulate new business creation, reduce environmental damage, improve social cohesion and create a higher standard of living on the Happiness index.


    Selling Australia and emigrating to Vanuatu is also an option:

    Lonely Planet, the New Economics Foundation, and Friends Of The Earth have all voted Vanuatu the happiest place on earth in their happiness indexes.

    Vanuatu is one of the few remaining countries in the world where indigeneous people live a proud, traditional life. They live without many things that westerners feel are essential (such as televisions, automobiles, etc.) However, they live a profoundly beautiful and simple life that brings them closer to each other and to their communities.

    • “increase personal wealth, greatly reduce property prices, stimulate new business creation, reduce environmental damage, improve social cohesion and create a higher standard of living on the Happiness index.”

      And so will a land tax. Good to see you on board NT.

      • Sorry Rusty, If Australia is to follow Vanuatu and score well on the Happiness Index instead of the High Immigration Index then we will, sensibly, have to join them and get rid of all Land Taxes.

        Below is information FYI:


        INCOME TAX:

        There are no income taxes in Vanuatu, except on rental income.


        12.5% on all income over US$2,041

        Rent tax is payable twice annually. The due dates for rent tax is every June, and every December.


        There is no capital gains tax imposed in Vanuatu.

        STAMP DUTY:

        Transfers of local land leases are charged with 5% stamp duty. The transfer is also subject to an additional 2% Lands Records office transfer fee.

        Transfers of real property are subject to a flat rate stamp duty at VUV3,000 (US$31).


        There are no property taxes.

        Source: Global Property Guide

      • Yeah, that’s like putting places like Caymen Islands, Monaco and Luxembourg up there too….

        Tiny principalities with no macro economic substance….

        A society needs a school system, it needs a constabulary and courts, it’s best served with an accessible health system.

        This needs taxes, and all these places are, are locations where big money flees, without paying it’s share of providing for about mentioned services.

        The world needs sizable economies, with the scale to build society, the tax havens of ‘high happiness’ do not provide these, and not not have the scale to ever provide these.

    • It’s a bit windy and wet in Vanuatu RT, and the ocean keep lapping at doorstep ever higher YOY. Hawaii is a bit better.

      Agree with your Emigration statement however which will become more evident as Sydney and Melbourne get choked with migrants. Maybe something will happen with people power, but I doubt it.

    • Now that’s frank and honest, from his own party to boot.

      ‘In a rambling preamble attached to the motion, Mr Popowski accused migrants of a litany of sins including forging documents, faking degrees, rorting the visa system, slacking on welfare and also taking jobs from locals.

      “The last thing we need is foreign workers. Get the bastards who are here, off their back-sides! 80% of all new arrivals are on benefits – some for over 10 years!” he wrote. “Simple: compulsory work for the dole – plus, prison for all the crooked quacks who’ve signed them up for the DSP!”‘

      • Jumping jack flash

        “Simple: compulsory work for the dole – plus, prison for all the crooked quacks who’ve signed them up for the DSP!”
        I.. I think I’ve found my new hero…

      • I think several things in it are, my overall issue with skills migration program is exactly what he has put(thought alot more directly) its a rort improve it ad bring it in line with what is needed then it can be a benefit. At this stage its designed to keep growing the GDP(just of 2 cities though adds to country’s GDP) without consideration of productivity and I think this time its different coz people(even the bogans) understand its unsustainable.

    • The LNP (indeed, any MSM party) has too much riding on foreign investment to seriously consider this. Thankfully these guys come across as total loons / racists, which makes it easy to nip it in the bud.

  7. The LNP (indeed, any MSM party) has too much riding on foreign investment to seriously consider this. Thankfully these guys come across as total loons / racists, which makes it easy to nip it in the bud.

    • Thankfully these guys come across as total loons / racists
      Handy little words that you can use to put down you opponents eh immigration man? What will you do when your name calling stops working? Resort to reason?

      • Hi The Claw, fwiw I only said that they “come across” that way. Though I suppose that’s all that matters in the MSM.

        (Btw I should stress that this comment was not addressed to LVO, it was supposed to be a reply to Amit’s link above. This is what I get for posting from a phone..)

  8. Jumping jack flash

    Fast rail #2…

    This guy can’t dream up effective policy to save himself.
    Or in the case it was dreamed up by the party (which is likely) during a wine-soaked thinktank session, can’t vet it effectively.
    Worse than either Rudd or Gillard.

    It will die the death of the fast rail brain fart. Everyone stops talking about it and in a couple of weeks it was as if it never happened.

    First class exploitation of the goldfish-like memories of the electorate!
    And the fact that everyone is far too busy slaving away for the banks and trying to scrape together a semblance of a standard of living, to care what these flapping mouths say anyway.

  9. Everyone is staring at the bathtub slowly overflowing and panicking that we need a bigger tub. No one is thinking to perhaps turn the tap off.

    But there will never, NOT EVER, be an open and transparent and honest public discussion, discourse, conversation, debate, or otherwise about whether we should reduce the rate of immigration into this country.

    This is one of the key economic levers possessed by the elite scum that have manipulated and shouldered their way into power on behalf of underhand financial interests, and they will not relinquish it unless they are absolutely forced to.

    Australians are finally getting around to opening up the bills for our past few decades of prosperity.

    What, did you think all of those lower tax rates and higher house prices that have made you wealthier were just a gift from some benevolent central bankers and neoliberal supermen ?

    NO, the true cost of lower taxes and higher house prices is right there before you every time you walk through the Sydney and Melbourne CBDs. Say hello to another 10 million new Chinese and Indians that will make up Australia’s population growth and GDP growth figures. The ones that will keep your house price higher, your superannuation balance higher, your FIRE sector and Education sector and Retail sector jobs that little bit more secure.

    Never mind you are selling out your children’s future, your cultural and national identity.

    Learn to like those new Australians, because they aren’t going anywhere, and the elite scum in charge of this country are getting ready to turn the immigration tap to its limits.

  10. I think that people like MB are bringing the impacts of population growth of over 2% based almost entirely on immigration on the community in terms of both qualitative and quantitative standards of living to the forefront of the debate.
    The debate is also becoming more interested in the right mix of non-refugee immigration in the interests of the existing citizens as a whole and while the racists and islamaphobes still have a large voice in the debate, many who are not racists are joining in as they face strangled transport systems, increasing densities and overwhelmed public services such as in schools and hospitals. The high profile of middle eastern people in drug and gun crime does not help in maintaining a non-racist discussion, but most people know that crime is widespread across all ethnic backgrounds and that anglos and other europeans have all had high crime profiles at different times including very recently.

  11. Nobody should be under any illusion that the issues with the healthcare system are fixable simply by stopping immigration – although this is a necessary start. Even if that were to occur the system is still hopelessly overloaded and burdened to the point of being downright unsafe with the numbers we have today and requires at least a 30% increase in hospital beds and attached services to get back to anything like a safe first world system.

    As for the $47,000 parental visa: I can can guarantee that for >80% of applicants for this, they will get their money’s worth from the health system within the first 12 months of arrival. I don’t know how many of these things have been issued but I can tell you that every day I see elderly non English speaking patients brought in to the ED by their children, who are obviously migrants themselves, and the parents all seem to have access to medicare benefits. Now I am happy to do the work, and at least the ailments are not acute drug / alcohol issues (which is more the par for 20 something, home grown white bogan types who end up in ED and require intubation and ICU care) and I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to get decent healthcare for their parents. But I do not see anyone outside of MB even attempting to have an honest discussion about the cost of all of this and who is going to pay for it.

    • It’s actually great for the Neoliberals. They get 47,000 ShortTermDollars and they get an excuse to cronyise the failed public health system.

    • I might be wrong but on parental visa( full-paid AUD 47K) there is a 10-year waiting period to access services. I don’t think you can land with a parental visa and head directly to ED/Public hospital.

      • Apologies – I think you are right about the waiting period. My point is that once the person is medicare eligible, it doesn’t take anything other than a moderate illness with couple of inpatient admissions to burn through $47000 of costs.

      • I think people dont try to bring parents on parental visa to just access medical services. If you look at “their contribution” perspective. For the 10 years (during their waiting period) they will have to fund their medical (via private health care) , cannot access any centrelink services, of course cannot/will not work in any proper job other than menial jobs (who wants to hire a 65yo account with no local experience? moreso, kids paying good coin to bring their parents here will not expect their parents to work in menial jobs). So, estimating their contribution to Aus economy for 1 year as $20-30K min which adds upt o $300K over 10 years and 47K visa cost. Effectively they would have contributed 350K before they can access services!! …. oh btw, kids sponsoring 47K per parent arent relying on dole/govt benefits either so they are paying tax at top rate…

        • The Productivity Commission disagrees with you Virus. Parental visas are costing taxpayers net $2.6-$3.2 billion per year (and growing). That’s one heck of a lot of money. I’d personally prefer that we spend that money looking after our homeless.

          By the way, those “contributions” that you mention are private benefits. We as taxpayers do not receive them.

      • Thanks for clarifying, UE.

        wrt, “contributions”… isn’t contributing to economy by way spending a type contribution?

      • Virus – no, it’s not a kind of contribution. You are falling Into a Broken Window Fallacy trap- that money would have been earned and spent by the kids anyway – if it wasn’t on “services” for the parents it might be on blowjobs and gin for themselves….

      • Thats correct. My opinion is that, if kids are happy to pay up 47K and support their parents for 10 years then, in the absence of parental visa, they will most likely send the money overseas in order to help support their parents, the same money could be better spent here rather than overseas. It highly unlikely that these kids will “jump up in joy and spend money on brothels/gin just because they are not spending money”…. they will spend the money but it will be overseas. I have rarely met any person who has said ” oh well, if i cannot get parental visa for my parents then I will save 100K and could put a deposit on a house!”

    • Some immigrants will also be contributing to the states by way of stamp duty, which helps to fund better infrastructure, etc. This could be upwards of $40k for some families.

    • Excellent post!
      You are right. the system is getting more cumbersome and more out of control and you are correct that adding more customers to the system is not going to make it any easier to fix.
      Costs have been rising faster than tax dollars for many years, driven by expensive technology which counter intuitively has not lowered the cost of service delivery.
      Perhaps breaking some of the oligarchies in operation in the system would help? There are certainly costs to come out through efficient communication and patient data handling systems, but what we find with most technology is that it just enables us to do more with less and thus increase overall demand.

  12. If I start a petition for the referendum and tabling if a bill to parliament on Immigration – will everyone here + 100 people they know sign it?

    • Sure, we can all sign it and get others to do the same, but will it have any effect? I don’t think so. Even if it did make the MSM, you’d be shouted down as a racist, and then examples would abound about immigrants/refugees who have come here and made good, distracting the whole debate.

      Dick Smith, who probably has far more clout than any of us has tried to raise the immigration debate over the last few years, but nothing has resulted. Even if there was a politician in favour of lowering the population growth, s/he would be told in no uncertain terms to toe the party line.

      Sorry to be so pessimistic about all of this, but I’m just stating the facts. As I said earlier, this won’t be talked about openly until it is way too late.

      • md, you are pessimistic and rightly so, dare say we all feel the same. However, there a few areas in favour of this:
        – timing (the air play across the spectrum from diverse sources on this issue. If the smart people on his site can co-ordinate then maybe it’s a breach
        – I’m okay for a mechanism to put forward a democratic point of view to be called racism. I’m from a mistreated minority, culturally one of the most battered people on earth and an immigrant to Australia- I can handle it.
        – I think you’d be surprised at the volume of signatories you could get if the contents were methodical, simple, and articulated for the guy in Toowoomba and the lady in South Melbourne.
        Lastly, It’s already too late – and openness has all but gone. Dick Smith is up against the Lowy’s, the Costellos, the triguboffs, the Pratts and many more. But, this is a different time, there are different tools available, and a lot of mental power and resolve here on this subscription alone, not to mention the simmering discontent around the country.

        Just a thought – don’t let a situation that demands action get you down. If half the subscribers here would draft and sign it’s a start. As with most things momentum and serendipity favours those that start.

      • Kelvin Thompson was an avid small Australia proponent within the Labor Party. He was the only ALP member to actually increase his vote, in a very multicultural electorate with these policies in the election that saw Rudd bounce out.

  13. If you’ve “stopped the boats” why would you need to go down this path?

    This nothing but an attempt at a political distraction, Turnbull needs some room to move time wise.

    • Its the jets we need to stop. Mass immigration gets conflated with humanitarian arrivals, who actually account for about 5% of total population growth, while legal immigration has accounted for about 55-60% of total population growth.