More calls to slash immigration for housing affordability

By Leith van Onselen

Let’s recall former Labor leader, Mark Latham’s, remarks last week calling for immigration levels to be cut in order to take the pressure off housing:

“[Housing affordability] is all about supply and demand. It’s not rocket science…

[But] you’ve got to do something about demand. And whether we like it or not – and the two parties have got consensus about a Big Australia – the driver of housing demand in Sydney is immigration. The 200,000 a year plus immigration program – add to that the refugee program – that’s the driver of demand. And unless you address that, you can have all of the housing bonds, press conferences and forums that you like – and sort of puffy stuff in the media – and you won’t get a solution. So, break the consensus about Big Australia, slash the immigration program, drive down demand,  and finally you will have a sensible solution to housing affordability”.

“You won’t have to spend as much on infrastructure funding because the place is not sprawling as much. And the other benefit you get is environmental sustainability. It’s something The Greens used to talk about, but now they talk about 50,000 to 100,000 refugees – they are Big Australia as well”.

“So, there is real room here for a sensible solution based on cuts to immigration”.

Over the weekend, Fairfax columnist, Crispin Hull, entered the fray, also arguing that the main solution to making housing more affordable rests with winding-back Australia’s mass immigration program:

The principal cause of housing unaffordability is population growth and the principal cause of that is high immigration. Immigration quotas are set by the federal government. The great majority of immigrants go to Sydney and Melbourne where the highest dwelling prices are to be found.

Yet premiers rarely if ever tell the feds to rein in the immigration quotas so they can have some hope of keeping up with demand for housing, schools, roads, hospitals and so on…

So let’s first go to our property developer, the founder of Meriton, Australia’s most prolific apartment developer, Harry Triguboff.

He was quoted in the Australian Financial Review late last year as dismissing concerns there might be an over-supply of apartments.

Triguboff was asked, “But might rents fall in Sydney and Brisbane when all the new apartments are completed in the next two years?”
He responded, “Then I will bring in more migrants.”

Whoops, I must have got in wrong when I said above that the federal government sets the migrant quotas. Apparently, property developers set migrant targets in Australia. Or at least federal politicians are so beholden to them and their donations that, in effect, they determine migration quotas.

This site has never argued that excessive immigration is the sole cause of Australia’s unaffordable housing. But it is hard to deny that it is a significant factor.

Since John Howard initially opened the immigration floodgates in 2003, Australia’s population has grown at nearly 2.5 times the OECD average (see next chart).

ScreenHunter_15563 Oct. 18 16.52

Most of these migrants have flooded into Melbourne and Sydney, where house price growth has also been the strongest and homes are most expensive:

ScreenHunter_17147 Jan. 30 09.32

And because of mass immigration, Sydney’s population is projected to grow by 87,000 people per year (1,650 people each week) to 6.4 million over the next 20-years – effectively adding another Perth to the city’s population:

ScreenHunter_15562 Oct. 18 15.29

Whereas Melbourne’s population is projected to balloon by 97,000 people per year (1,850 people each week) over the next 35 years to more than 8 million people:

ScreenHunter_15632 Oct. 23 12.16

The Turnbull Government can bang on about boosting supply all it wants (without actually doing anything). But something needs to be done to stem demand, including the flood of new migrants inundating Sydney and Melbourne each and every year.

None of this is rocket science. So why won’t our major political parties – the Coalition, Labor and the Greens – address the problem at its source and slash immigration to sensible and sustainable levels?

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Unconventional Economist


    • Do you donate to political parties for the good of the nation, or to gain access and influence? Maybe both!

    • Banning donations would be a start. Then you have to consider the conflict of interest of politicians with investment properties. If you ban that as well then you have to consider all levels of government (council, state, federal) have become heavily reliant on income from turnover (stamp duty) and appreciation (CGT) of property

      This will only end when the govt loses its housing revenue with a major financial shock. Hopefully we’ll see a shift away from CGT/Stamp duty towards land taxes, which in turn means less reliance on immigration to generate govt revenue.

    • But why must we have it via dumbed down degrees!

      It would be so much better if Aussie passports were sold for $250k each.

      A) the money would go to government and not some corrupt “university” or private firm.

      B) Aussie students would not have to do group assignments with people who do not know English

      C) Much less wage theft (bosses getting 3rd world passport holders to withdraw cash from the ATM to give to said boss) because they have an Aussie passport from day 1.

    • As I have said on many a time, the only way this can be changed is if the smaller parties come to an agreement with the Hansonites. Sustainable population party, The Shooters and Fishers, a few Greens (there would be some), Dick Smith, Mark Latham joining together with the Hansoites on this issue and take to the main stage in the mainstream media.
      Politics people, they might not agree on all policy, but GET a WIN on THIS POLICY where you ALL agree.

    • Except in the Promised Land, where the Chosen must remain ethnically pure, justifying implementation of apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies.

      Harry T is not fooling anyone.

  1. one nation needs a new name IMO… rebrand it

    a fresh start….instead of ‘pauline hanson’s one nation’ which is always going to be limited

    get some notable australians on board..dicksminth was a start

    • Voting for Pauline is a bit like voting for clownshoes Abbott. They tell us what we want to hear, but simply aren’t up to the job of delivering on the promises.

      Pauline is struggling to keep her very small number of MPs in line. What hope would she have of managing even a few more Culleton types?

      That Dick’s Myth endorses her says more about his judgment than the virtue of her policies.

    • You are right Jeremey.
      PH’s One Nation seems to have no Party structure – just Pauline. If they don’t do something to get some sort of Party structure they won’t last.

      • That would require them having more in common than “RARGH ! Darkies and azns”.

        You’ve only got to look at the dogs breakfast of ON policies and hear the odd one of their reps making comments either completely ignorant of, if not opposite to, many of those policies to realise it’s a bunch of randoms who have next to nothing in common other than a psuedo-White-Australia policy dressed in a rather revealing environmental ballgown with no undies.

  2. *Yet premiers rarely if ever tell the feds to rein in the immigration quotas so they can have some hope of keeping up with demand for housing, schools, roads, hospitals and so on…*

    Bob Carr did.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      See, that’s interestng. Lately I’ve noticied the gubmint mouthpieces have been blaming Sydney prices on Carr’s failure to embrace mass immigration and infrastructure follow-on. Lots of words about how this all goes back 16 years ago.

      This anti-immigration rise must really be hitting home in private polling. Getting kinda desperate.

  3. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    Well if this is something you feel strongly about, Join a political Party (I recommend Labor), turn up to the Monthly Branch meetings, and if necessary, make a Cunt of yourself, to get this point across.

    That’s what I plan on doing,… after no branch meetings during January, I’m looking forward to it!
    Come on,…have a Go, Join up!

      • You can, but then it fucks things up for the affordable housing party who need to have a certain number of member that are legit (i.e actual citizens and not registered as members of another party).

        So if you are going to join Labor then do the nice thing and de-register from the AHP so they know…

  4. It’s not bloody rocket science.

    Cut immigration
    Introduce a Vancouver style 30% foreign investors tax
    Implement AUSTRAC

    If One Nation pushes this I can see them doing some serious damage to the major parties next election.

  5. Immigration is completely irrelevant.

    There are American states where immigration is much higher than any AU city and price growth is limited.

    There is Tasmania which has had no immigration growth and property prices have also multiplied over the last 20 years.

    So that leaves credit growth as the root cause. If we abolished fractional reserve and fiat money, we would never get into these speculative asset bubbles.

    • Sorry, sir, you are wrong.

      Immigration may not be the only cause, but it is a cause. It’s easy to see how letting in 100,000 fewer people per year will mean that 50,000 fewer dwellings become unavailable for people who are already here.

      • Doesn’t quite work like that, you have to separate out the temp immigrants from the permanent immigrants. 100,000 temporary immigrants have very different impact compared to 100,000 permanent immigrants.

    • Two things:
      1. As MB said, immigration is not the sole cause, but it plays a part.
      2. However, to many MB commenters, they act as if immigration is the sole cause, and is allows them an excuse to grind their axes. To them everything is a problem caused by immigration.

    • I agree with Jono that the ROOT CAUSE is the monetary system itself. However, none should be so blind as to disregard the compounding myriad issues noted so frequently on this blog.

      Short of reforming to sound money, there are other practical steps to take. Even a return to prudent lending standards with higher deposit requirements, or lending out of domestic savings only would do much to stem to tide of speculation in housing..

    • A party with a very simple agenda can easily rule for decades:
      1. Temp residents & foreigners barred strictly to buy existing property, enforce AML in RE
      2. Remove CGT concessions. To control credit flow keep a limit of properties investors can buy. NG I dont think matters after this but if can be done then restrict to new properties only.
      3. population intake of permanent migrants inline with long term average and a state wise limits so that not all settle in two cities.

      Free market can be back in control after this and let it take its shape on prices not until then.

    • If we abolished fractional reserve and fiat money, we would never get into these speculative asset bubbles.
      True. But creating a shortage of decent housing, and then letting immigrants buy much of the decent stuff, would still cause many Aussies to miss-out on decent housing.
      Why not create abundant decent housing, and then let price take care of itself?

  6. reusachtigeMEMBER

    The best thing you can all do is let you anger out on blogs like this then just get on with your miserable lives!

    • There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Blogs exist so people can vent about is bothering them. Of course they don’t actually do anything about what is bothering them, because doing something takes more effort than going tap, tap, tap on your keyboard.

      • “..because doing something takes more effort than going tap, tap, tap on your keyboard…”


        Judging from the increasing frequency with which pollies and journos are whinging about ‘social media’ and what they define as ‘fake news’ and the claim that tap tap tap helped Trump win the presidency, a lot of people are quite worried about all that tap tap tapping.

        Why not let your fingers doing the walking? To quote that old campaign about why the future was in the yellow pages.

      • The best thing we could do is crowd fund to take out full page adverts in metropolitan news papers condemning the government policy and providing some facts to show how the government is destroying this countries future.
        I actually called the west newspaper here in perth and they want 10k for a full page b/w advert. And they said the content would have to be approved by their management.

  7. Like any quick fix , the economy has become totally geared towards high population growth. To make meaning reductions in immigration levels would have an immediate impact of economic activity. I would that guess that 30% or more of peoples financial lives are connected with the property industry. It’s a very sad state of affairs, at the end of the day they don’t actually produce anything except dwellings and eventually infrastructure to support the increased masses. They require a never ending population growth.
    Big bucks have been made by developers, speculators and also just leveraged home owners. But at the end of the day we all need to live somewhere so all increases prices mean for most is that is is more difficult to upgrade. Unless you move further away from the city or beach.
    Basically the whole suburb of Chatswood in Sydney has been vacated by locals. I bet pushed out further to take advantage of the fantastic Price growth of that suburb. However , the down side is an extra 10 to 20 min of the train or car to get to work. This is an example of life getting harder in sydney for most.

  8. You cant cut immigration. That would be racist. You need to open the borders to everyone who wants to come here with out any restriction whats so ever.
    Just ask Penny. She will show you, you are on the wong side of this argument.

    • If I’ve learned one thing from the whole Trump travel ban broo-ha-ha in the US, it is that immigration is now enshrined as a human right.

      Unless its immigration to countries that aren’t in the anglosphere, in which case too bad you gotta follow our laws and stuff.

      • Spot on Tony just try getting a visa to see Saudi Arabia. Or visit Syria, Dubai Saudi, Yemen after getting an Israeli stamp in your passport. Ain’t gonna happen.

      • SchadenfreudeKing

        Then you haven’t been paying attention to what is happening in the US. They’ve been denying entry to EXISTING visa and green card holders. Not just new applicants, but established permanent residents with proper documentation.

        It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. That’s what Tony just did.

  9. So best to ignore the looming dramatic decline in our natural growth and what a doubling of deaths does to supply. Noted…

  10. Aussie1929MEMBER

    We need more Muslim immigration so women, gays, atheists, the left and white people can be culturally enriched.