Chris Pyne lies in defence of mass immigration

By Leith van Onselen

Let’s recall Tony Abbott’s comments last night on why Australia should reduce immigration:

Mr Abbott said it was time to end the “big is best” thinking of federal Treasury and scale back immigration “at least until housing starts and infrastructure have caught up”, in order to ease house prices.

And let’s recall Ken Henry’s comments yesterday:

“Based on current estimates, Australia needs to build a city for two million people every two years or a city the size of Melbourne or Sydney every decade yet the only plan seems to be “stuffing” more people into Sydney and Melbourne…”

And how has defence minister, Chris Pyne, responded? With this drivel, via The Australian:

“…look, we won’t be going down the track of putting a freeze of immigration, for example, which Tony Abbott wants to do, because it would be catastrophic in places like the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania. Most places outside the capital cities”.

Earth to Chris. Immigrants aren’t flocking into “places like the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania”. If they were, we wouldn’t have problems. They are instead flooding into already congested Melbourne and Sydney, whose populations have expanded by around 1 million and 800,000 people respectively over the past 12 years:

ScreenHunter_17633 Feb. 24 09.19

Worse, under current settings, official state government projections have Sydney’s population growing 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

And Melbourne’s population ballooning 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

If you are going to debate this topic, at least get your facts right.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. Well, that was quick! I thought that the (current) LNP leadership would defend migration because it is the opposit of what Tony is saying, but I didn’t think it would be so immediate and so blunt!

  2. Kinder drop off this morning in Melbourne. Took almost 20 minutes to drive 3 kms. Roadworks, utility works, apartment constructions. Single lanes and stop signs. Traffic gridlock. Anger among the parents was white hot. Fed up with the hassle, everything take forever, we don’t need this sh!t, etc. This immigration thing is really starting to resonate. It’s a matter of time before a major party runs with it.

      • Dave, you can push a pram with a 4 year old, or you can put them on the back of a bike, which you are legally allowed to ride on the footpath with as you are accompanying a child. Common sense? yeah, jump in a car and take 20 minutes. I do 3 k’s in about 5 minutes on my bike. My 5 year old walks to school 2 K’s in 20 minutes (accompanied by her older neighbour). Perhaps you need to plan better and not see cars as the only ‘common sense’ solution.

        • Too bad if you then need to drive somewhere far away for work.

          Instead of acknowledging that traffic in Melbourne has slowed to a crawl due to insane population growth over more than a decade, Felix Frost has played ‘blame the victim’.

      • 36km/h is quick even for a regular rider on a road bike in good conditions.

        Nobody (sane) is going to be doing that through heavy stop-start commuter traffic, or on a footpath, with a child onboard.

        The issue is less likely to be one of laziness and more likely to be one of time. A 3km walk with a child is likely to be 45 minutes worth. If there’s a return walk, that’s 90 minutes of someone’s morning gone before they’ve even begun their journey to work.

        On the other hand, a 20 minute – probably more like 5 in reasonable conditions – drive that then proceeds to work is much less time consuming.

      • Blaming the victim? Seriously. I am just trying to challenge the notion that if you want to live in a city you have god-given right to drive. Cars are just not a solution. If you want to drive everywhere go live in the country, if you want to cohabit with lots of other people (for reasons of culture or work) then find suitable ways to do so. Getting into your car for daily tasks is no way forward.

      • @felix – until I buggered my knee I commuted to the CBD 20kms each way by bike most working days, so some irony there 🙂 Now I cant do that I walk and train most days. Anyways, thats irrelevant to this discussion which is the point I think…

        as others are pointing out its a different game with kids. The logistics just dont work. If I were to do that, and I live 1km from my day care, I’d be looking at 30mins plus with my daughter. Then another 15 mins to walk to the station. Its just not doable, I’ve tried it plenty. So 3kms, forget it. Unless the train station is right next to the day care, and even then its a big stretch.

      • I am just trying to challenge the notion that if you want to live in a city you have god-given right to drive.

        I think what you mean when you write “city” is “inner suburbs”.

      • “Righto. So city dwellers shouldn’t be allowed to use cars now?”

        That is not what FF said. UE you have just jumped to that binary that you are always banging on about. No-one is suggesting people shouldn’t be allowed to use cars but the negative external consequences of everyone doing so should not be ignored. The entitlement surrounding car use in this country is something that should be challenged.

    • Absolutely. This is why I think Labor will be a shoe in at the next election. Liberals don’t want an investigation into banks, want to keep neg gearing, want to keep the population ponzi going, and do nothing Malcolm wants to keep the status quo for the rich and corporates and doesn’t want to do anything with climate change and renewable energy… Wages are stagnating further and the people (Rightly or wrongly) want slower population growth, more regulation for banks, more renewable energy and want property prices to stop going out of reach of their children.

      Labor is running opposite to the Liberals and they will take this all the way to a land slide in the next election imho.

      • Looking into your crystal ball, will Labor actually do something about those issues once elected?
        It seems to me that voters in Australia and around the world have been asking for change for a decade, but nobody will give it to them.

      • That is completely false. Several Labour “leaders” have emerged as supporters of a Congested Australia (formerly known as a Big Australia)

    • Not every traffic issue is immigration driven.
      Obvious RE wealth creation have caused many to tap into their equity and have/use no less than 1 car per household member.
      Comprehension of traffic rules also became a challenging task for many today, often causing more congestion along the way.

  3. Spot on Leith.
    Pyne’s bizarre justification for high immigration levels reveals how deluded/misled/dishonest the population boosters are.
    NOM to the NT for the last year was 500 people
    We need a national NOM of 180,000 so 500 people can immigrate to the NT.

  4. Christopher Pyne, he’ll fix it.
    He will fix nothing.
    The only thing he has fixed, is the certainty in people’s mind of his own stupidity, his own incompetence, and self-indulgence.
    When will people start to wake up that these same morons are the ones that are selling out our children’s future, in order to maintain some kind of a hold on a dying minority vote.
    You bow to a minority at your peril Pyne.

    • I don’t think selling out is correct. A future of congested chaos is baked in. They have already been sold out. But Pyne and his useless mates will have their gold plated pensions and board positions.

  5. This is nothing more a recycled version of ‘we can’t get rid of negative gearing because most people who benefit from it are teachers, nurses, police’. I demand higher quality propaganda!

  6. You can’t do better than to disagree with everything that Tony Abbott says.
    You can’t do better than to disagree with everything that Christopher Pyne says.

    I think the universe is about to implode.

    But seriously, the ease with which Pyne just makes stuff up is staggering. But then again Abbott just makes stuff up.

    The universe might actually be about to implode.

  7. “Immigrants aren’t flocking into “places like the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania”. If they were, we wouldn’t have problems.”

    An agile, innovative policy would be to make a condition of an immigrant’s visa that they live in Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania for at least five years.

    • Per several other threads, it exists already but can’t be legally enforced (how do you legally stop someone settling elsewhere?)

      I think the way to actually make this happen would be via a tax break that you can only receive by proof of residence in the State / region.

      • Per several other threads, it exists already but can’t be legally enforced (how do you legally stop someone settling elsewhere?)

        Er, make it a condition of their visa ? “Must live in a designated rural growth area”, or some such. Penalty for non-compliance (ie: if someone checks and finds you are not living in a suitable place) is a large fine, immediate deportation and banned from re-entry (for any reason) for ten years.

        Penalty for anyone found assisting non-compliance (say, acting as a broker supplying false addresses or documentation, etc) is a massive fine and mandatory minimum gaol sentence of a year or two.

      • Drsmithy – yes perhaps new legislation could be introduced. All I am saying is that the discussion amongst the community of would-be immigrants, and those advising them, when I was involved was that State or Regional sponsorship of a visa could not force you to live in any particular area. It was a moral obligation.

        IF laws were to be introduced, you’d have to think it would not be easy to achieve. What if the person couldnt get a job or a place to live there, but could elsewhere? What counts as “living there” in terms of # days per year etc? Similar issue to being resident for tax purposes.

        BTW I support the concept 100%, its exactly whats needed. Just unsure as to how it can best be achieved.

      • IF laws were to be introduced, you’d have to think it would not be easy to achieve. What if the person couldnt get a job or a place to live there, but could elsewhere? What counts as “living there” in terms of # days per year etc? Similar issue to being resident for tax purposes.

        I think you are trying to make this more difficult than it needs to be.

        First and foremost, immigrants shouldn’t be going places there aren’t jobs. Either vacancies to fill, or having some existing capital to start and run a business, which they have identified a need for (the obvious example being doctors).

        The ATO knows where people live, and especially where they work. As does Centrelink. As does the Department of Transport. On top of which, asking people to affirm annually as part of a visa their PPoR is not onorous. So keeping track of whether or not somebody is living in an approved area is an easy problem to solve.

        Most people will do the right thing. Some who don’t will be deterred by the possible consequences and at least stick to the rules. A tiny minority won’t be deterred by the possible consequences and either be caught and deported, or not caught while constituting an irrelevant rounding error.

        Fundamentally this is not a hard problem. But first you need to get out of the mindset that immigration should be a largely unregulated, uncontrolled and undirected affair. It should be the exact opposite – a tightly controlled, carefully targeted, component of an overall strategic plan to raise the bar on the entire country economically, culturally, socially and morally.

      • We have precedents. With the Overseas Trained Doctor scheme they had to live in rural or regional areas. These are designated. They weren’t trapped in NT, for example, but had to live in another acceptable zone. It’s not hard.

      • I AM not making it difficult at all, I’m simply hypothesizing about WHY it isnt the case that State or Regional visa applicants are legally required to live there.

        Ah, OK. Well that’s because our immigration policy is run by a bunch of people who think it should just be about importing workers to suppress wages and goose GDP.

    • @ Beelzebub

      About 20yrs ago there was a system of state sponsored skilled immigrant visa for those with less than pass points for PR.
      These folks that would normally be rejected were given a chance by condition to be employed in deplorable states for 5yrs before PR was issued.
      I heard it brought a number of side effects, bigger than the intended ones and most left after 5yrs anyway.

  8. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    All the literature and of course the lived, observable experience shows that chain-migration is one of the big determinants of where migrants go. Absent some very strong controls (which would be subverted in Australia; after all, we don’t enforce pretty much any laws relating to migration with the exception of those who come by boat) people will just go where they already have family or language communities.

    Now, back in the day – when migration from Europe was strong and people were less mobile once they got here – it was all a bit more evenly spread. If you were Italian, Greek, English, Scottish, Irish or German there were places all over the country where you could settle easily. Today’s migrants are almost certainly going to gravitate to Melbourne or Sydney because of this factor. I don’t know if there is data on the ‘regional migration visa’ outcomes but I suspect many of them ‘served their time’ and then moved to the big smoke.

    Regardless, hearing our Tones pretending to do a mea culpa and trying to claim the high ground on immigration is utterly hilarious (and a bit sad all at the same time).

    • I couldn’t find the reference, but imported medicos are a case in point where they leave the regions as soon as their time is up and they have residency, so having achieved their intent, move into the majors. Just the same as the so called student visas coming here to study cake decorating. If this is widespread to other industries, it makes a case for training Australians to fill these positions and not permitting the visa workers to move anywhere else. Import replacement kind of, but of course that would take some degree of lateral thinking which is a bit hard for the conservative brain.

    • It won’t happen in SA because there is not enough work in the interim to keep the skillset in the place. They are leaving the state or taking up other careers – Subcorp has lost over half it’s Collins Class employees. This will be another reason to import more workers so it will work out well for the conservatives – no doubt they will work out some trade deal to bring the things in half built anyway ….. /s. And to think we used to design and send rockets into space eh? Shows how far we’ve moved down the food chain.

  9. There are not enough jobs in SA – the Holden factory and Cola factory are to be shut – so why the hell would you want low-wage immigrants to come to SA?

    There were not enough jobs to go around in 2001. How many Aussies have suicided since the Ansett collapse due to foreign “students” and 457 visa staff coming here to work for illegal wages?

    • That rugby chap who topped himself the other day might have been pushed over the edge by the flood of 457 migrants. You never know. Oh, wait, he was a migrant himself, and he worked in real estate.

      It’s all so confusing.

  10. Christopher Pyne, proving yet again that silence at least doesn’t prove your an idiot but saying something so stoopid just proves what we all suspected.

  11. “Earth to Chris. Immigrants aren’t flocking into “places like the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania”. And there’s the rub. The Conservatives are playing the numbers game and don’t care whether it’s immigrants or nationals that end up in the hell holes of the NT or in the backwaters of SA and Tassie. In their tiny minds they think that by induction people will move out of crowded Melbourne and Sydney into these other places and they couldn’t give a shit who it is. The reality is that many immigrants will happily squeeze into the major cities, probably because it feels a bit cosy and familiar to them. Nationals remember what it’s like to not smell your neighbours farts so the propensity is to displace nationals from their extended families, friends and social connection. The Pynes of this world don’t give a flying about this because, guess what, it doesn’t affect them! So we have a living exhibit of the insidious nature of social engineering in a free market. The sludge disappears out of sight to the bottom and all the frothy stuff bobs along on the surface – while the bloke manning the stirring levers thinks about his next holiday. Anyone who has worked in a sewer treatment plant will get the analogy.
    But cutting to the chase, Pyne wouldn’t have the qualifications to work in the treatment plant, his skill set is somewhere along the path of the chimps at Toronga who are great at throwing their shit at patrons, but spend most of their day picking their rear ends. A skill set not in overwhelming demand outside of Canberra. I reckon Unley keep re-electing him for his entertainment value, not for his intellect. But then, who lives in Unley?

  12. proofreadersMEMBER

    Private Pyne – chief parrot for the Liberal Party and defending the indefensible is a specialty.

  13. Is there anything more Australian than a nation of immigrants calling for a halt on immigration due to traffic jams and house prices?

    • Classic strawman. So using your logic Australia should have open borders? Also, shouldn’t you be attacking “progressive” Canada because its immigration rate is way below ours?

      Just because Australia is an immigrant nation doesn’t mean that we should necessary run one of the world’s biggest immigration programs.

    • R(et)ard (apologies but it seemed so obvious) – is there anything more Australian than young people realistically being able to afford a quarter acre block, not too far out from the city centre where a lot of jobs are. Is it Australian to expect the health care system to improve, not go backwards. There are so many reasons why the rapid population growth since Howard opened the floodgates has led to a lower stand of living and an ongoing disaster for the environment, do some reading e.g.

  14. Pyne is a laugh. SA can’t even stop its own residents from moving to Melbourne, let alone immigrants.
    SA, the place to leave……(new status logo for number plate!)

    • But it’s exactly that which makes SA a nice place to live, if you can secure a well enough playing job there. I don’t know how anyone in their right mind can consider Sydney or Melbourne Ozzie living, even Perth and Brizzy are too big to feel Ozzie now.

      Yet, as you elude to, the economic trouble with SA and Tas is that the young are leaving and the old are coming. The population in SA and Tas is ageing at more than twice the rate as the rest of Oz as a consequence.

      What the fed govt should do is increase infrastructure spending in places like SA and Tas to give the young employment opportunity and a reason to stay.

      • Jeez I would have agreed with you a couple of months ago unmester. But I had reason to walk through the UniSA campus at Mawson Lakes and thought I was back in Honkers. Not a word of English audible and no long noses in sight ( it’s ok – reverse racism, I’m western) I felt like an outsider. After thirty minutes (my tolerance level is low) I got sick of the squawking noises that pass for dialogue and got out of Dodge, preferring to do my business online. I know, I know, I’ve crossed the pc line, but seriously, I just couldn’t live in the major cities if this is what’s it’s like, I think I would turn into a Hoddle Street psychopath.

        With respect to SA and Tassie being refuges for retirees, you are absolutely correct. There is no work so it’s becoming God’s waiting room. The young have to leave to have any hope of working to make a life for themselves. It sure makes it a nice place to live away from the worst of immigration overcrowding, but the cost is going to be high.

      • I would agree Malcom, there are as many Asian and North African young on the streets of Adelaide as there are Caucasian young. But this (to lesser or greater degree) is true in every Western city in today’s world. Of course the situation isn’t reflected in Asian, African and Indian cities. It’s not racist to make an observation, no matter how hard the PC crowd try and twist it to be. The old Caucasians are still the biggest group, though 😀

        The West has put itself in cultural and ethnic decline because of greed – what can I say? It’s just what it is. And groups like the Chinese, with huge populations, have bred us out of dodge – or Oz, as the case may be 🙂

  15. ‘it would be catastrophic in places like the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania. Most places outside the capital cities’
    If those places need people then how about decentralising Australia and the states and making those places more attractive to live for current citizens and recent migrants.
    But of course he just full of it.

    • Zactly my thought.
      Nothing really attractive for immigrants outside capitals.
      Country side is changing to multiculturalism slowly and it become somewhat inclusive, as per personal observation, over the last 8 yrs but the cost of life as burden on income is equal at best, or worse to capitals and that is negative incentive. Better income and cheaper homes could do a lot. Replace the CGT discount and NG with income tax breaks at lower end and reduce the house cost by removing urban limits and watch the change in rural areas. Same incentives must be given to businesses, e.g. free land use for new factories and less tax.

      I would move to Wollongong or New Castle in a blink of an eye if income opportunity is there and houses are cheaper. Everyone would.

  16. Pyne’s afraid that someone will notice that his $50 billion submarine project is ripe for being reallocated to much-needed infrastructure projects due to rapid population growth. That’s why so he’s anti-immigration. Oh, wait… Dammit! I think I just twisted my brain.

  17. should parliamentary limos be granted access to special express bus lanes in capital cities so they are exempt from experiencing the logistical consequences of rampant immigration / NOM ?