Sloan slams immigration addiction, housing affordability “sham”

By Leith van Onselen

The Australian’s Judith Sloan has penned a great piece today highlighting the Turnbull Government’s Budget housing affordability sham and arguing that if the Coalition truly cared about the issue, then it would have slashed immigration:

Last week, Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, wrote a feeble op-ed article outlining what the government had announced in the budget on housing.

There was the release of some Defence land (useful but not overnight); the limited use of superannuation to allow individuals to save for a house deposit; some concessions for wealthy retirees to downsize; penalising foreign investors in housing in small ways; assisting in the provision of concessional financing for social housing; and reworking the housing and home­less agreement with the states and territories.
The list may seem long but the impact on housing affordability will be negligible and the government knows that…

But there is one lever the federal government does control, but it was not prepared to make any adjustment. That lever is the number of immigrants allowed into the country. Population growth is a major explanation of surging house prices as supply struggles to keep up with demand.

…there had been no change to the migration program numbers — 190,000 a year for the coming financial year and in the next three…

You get the distinct impression that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton quite likes playing the tough cop on the beat when it comes to certain immigrants. But we are effectively being asked to look over there — we are deporting a few hundred failed asylum-seekers — while the large-scale immigration program is simply allowed to roll on without adjustment.

At 190,000 a year, immigration now makes up more than half of our population growth, and Australia has one of the highest rates of population growth among developed economies…

So why wouldn’t the government make the obvious call and reduce this number, particularly as this would have given substance to the claim that the pressing issue of housing affordability is being ­addressed?

Sloan goes on to explain how the Coalition has presumably kept the throttle on immigration to:

  • Juice aggregate GDP growth, even if per capita growth is unaffected;
  • Keep the business sector happy, which benefits from lazy growth (think retail sales, the property industry, etc), as well as from oversupplying labour and maintaining downward pressure on wages; and
  • Maintain the flow of foreign students seeking permanent residency into our university sector (effectively selling residency rather than education).

Before concluding:

So when you next hear Dutton blathering on about getting tough on refugees and 457 visa holders and the like, bear in mind that on the big issue he has simply squibbed it.

If the government really had wanted to demonstrate its determination to improve housing affordability and the related pres­sures on urban infrastructure, it would have slashed the migration program numbers, but it was clearly too hard. The vested interests have had their way.

The situation is even worse than Judith Sloan makes out.

First, the permanent migrant intake has actually been maintained at roughly 205,000, not 190,000, since the humanitarian intake must also be included:

Second, there are two other areas where the Turnbull Government has stealthily boosted immigration, which are separate to the permanent migrant intake. These are:

  • Announcing last year that it would allow foreign students aged 6 and up as well as their guardians to apply for student visas, thus adding even greater pressures on Australia’s primary schools, as well as placing more strains on housing and infrastructure.
  • Announcing this month that from 1 July 2017, a new parental visa will be introduced that will allow migrants to bring into Australia their elderly parents, thus placing even more strain on Australian housing, healthcare system and infrastructure.

To these you can add the sham changes to the 457 temporary “skilled” visa system, whereby the Turnbull Government has kept the pay floor at a pitifully low $53,900 (35% below the average full-time salary of $82,789), thus encouraging the widespread importation of cheap foreign workers and undercutting Australian wages and labour standards.

Nevertheless, Judith Sloan is 100% correct when she states that “population growth [read immigration] is a major explanation of surging house prices as supply struggles to keep up with demand”.

The fact is, without the Federal Government’s mass immigration program, population growth into our major cities would be low and easily manageable, resulting in far less pressure on both housing and infrastructure.

A case in point is the NSW State Government’s population projections, which show that Sydney’s population would rise to just 4.9 million in 20-years time under zero net overseas migration, versus increasing to 6.4 million people under current mass immigration settings – a huge difference of 1.5 million people:

That’s the equivalent of nearly four Canberras worth of additional people flooding into Sydney, each of whom will compete for housing and place huge upward pressure on prices.

The single best thing the Federal Government could do to alleviate the housing crisis in Sydney and Melbourne is rein-in Australia’s mass immigration program and take the pressure off both housing supply and infrastructure.

That the Coalition has instead stealthily acted to boost immigration shows they are housing affordability phonies.

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  1. Again good stuff UE and same from Judith Slaon
    Every single economic, social or security measure makes the immigration levels of the past decade or so a disaster let alone looking ahead to the creation of a giant crisis.

  2. reusachtigeMEMBER

    No wonder she was no good as the head of making stuff back in the day. She should know that the only way to corporate success is to lower wages via boosting the immigration of people willing to work under harsher conditions and for a small fraction of current wages.

    • Sometime yes, sometimes no. On this occasion Sloan has penned an excellent piece.

      We take a case-by-case approach to all articles (and authors) in the MSM. There are occasionally some gems, like this one.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        – Or is even the Murdoch press “seeing the light” ?


        The only light those corporate bitches see is that their readership is turning against them.

  3. Yeah/nah. She is wilfully ignoring the role of leverage. These people that dangle to the right love saying the sentence “it’s just a simple matter of supply and demand”.

      • yes (not accusing you with anything here UE) that is the full quote…”It’s just a simple matter of supply and demand. It’s not rocket science”. google that and REIA and you’ll get 9,000,000 hits.

  4. – I have one question for the Turnbull government. If you’re determined to continue the current pace of immigration then the federal governmnet should provide additional means/money to the states (Victoria, NSW, etc.) that enable those states to cope with the additional heathcare, road, railway burdens caused by that same immigration.
    – I fear the good folks in Canberra have a good reason why they won’t reduce immigration. It would hurt their own property investments.

  5. And your permanent migration programme numbers also exclude NZers who can come and stay indefinitely on special category visas. The net inflow in recent decades has been around 25000 per annum.

  6. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    Immigration to Australia is one of the most effective wealth redistribution tools going around. Its far more effective than anything socialism or communism came up with.

    Take from those that have – (Australian citizens)
    and give to those that don’t (the migrants who come to Australia ‘for a better life’).

  7. ceteris paribus

    There is no way to get off a moving Ponzi. Malcolm knows it and is just hanging on tight.
    Like virtually all politicians, Malcolm has two sets of policies. The real policies and the stated policies. We hear the stated policies.

  8. “That’s the equivalent of nearly four Canberras worth of additional people flooding into Sydney, each of whom will compete for housing and place huge upward pressure on prices.”

    That’s the whole idea, and fully supported by the three major parties. No one asks us if it’s what we want. I’m aware of the Sustainable Australia Party and will vote for them if possible, but knowing it’s not going to make much difference. The race to the Biggest Australia in the shortest amount of time will continue unabated.

  9. Not sure what Sloan’s point is, another part of the LNP media moan along with refugees, 457s etc.

    I understand from here that the definition of population changed according to the UN to include both temps and new permanent settler immigrants, most nations have different forms of counting so you can’t compare.

    Further, Sloan claims a causal relationship between ‘immigration’ and half of any population growth, without even proving a correlation; a verbal claim does not cut it. The population one needs to keep an eye on is the permanent population component, which people assume they are being presented with, but it’s lower and is made up of citizens and permanent residents. The latter have access to govt. services, while temp immigrants don’t, while temps tend to mostly live in city centre, without cars and rent apartments in a RE sector under price stress.

    Does Sloan understand that the fastest growing demographic are the over 85s and like those approaching that age they are healthier and living longer, ditto with holding property and driving cars; conservatives nationalists need to keep Australians in upper voting median on their toes by spooking them about ‘immigrants’?

    Compounded by Australia’s short term outlook precluding the future trends of stagnant permanent ageing population supported by state services with falling working age population; how do you have net budget contributors if you preclude temporary immigration?

    Let’s assume that the govt. stops immigration, which components will be stopped or restricted, and what will the flow on effects be? Brexit was about ‘immigration’ being confused with NOM and targets, now Tories understand that they were sold a pup, it’s not about a numbers but qualitative issues, that is needed by media for spooking conservatives of both left and right.

  10. mild colonial

    Cant understand how ms sloan is being allowed to publish this stuff.
    Anyway i don’t think you’ve quite yet grasped the cynicism of the immigration program. Its not even about immigration its about fake immigration. Immigrants are sold a dream about coming to Australia and they fork out a small fortune to migration agents, airlines, dept immigration, doctors, lawyers, education institutions, real estate agents, mobile phone companies and freight companies and then after struggling mightily to make a life they often pack up leave in despair to be replaced by the next in line who provide all those starting fees all over again! The program isnt about immigration, its about churn.

  11. kiwikarynMEMBER

    Shame the article is behind a paywall and no-one can actually read it. Those paywalls are very effective at keeping the masses ignorant and oblivious.