Labor goes all-in on open borders

Via The Guardian comes Andrew Leigh:

The government should combat backlash against globalisation by increasing redistribution and investing more in social programs in areas with new migrants, the shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has argued in a new paper.

In Choosing Openness, a Lowy Institute paper released on Wednesday, Leigh argued that Australia should resist a global trend to put up barriers to foreign investment, trade and immigration.

Leigh said closed societies, such as Australia under the White Australia policy and before trade liberalisation started in the 1970s, were “poorer and less dynamic” than open societies.

Leigh acknowledged that globalisation “raises average living standards, but some people can be hurt”.

“Redistributing part of the gains from openness from the winners to the losers is not just a matter of fairness. It is essential if the beneficiaries want to avoid a populist backlash,” he said.

Citing the election of Donald Trump, Britain’s decision to exit the European Union and the rise of rightwing parties in Europe, Leigh warned that “rightwing populists thrive on conflict and exploit our basic human instinct to hunker down in the face of difference”.

“These populists reject the idea of challenging choices and tricky trade-offs. Their promise is that once the corrupt elites have been overthrown, the virtuous voters can have everything they want.”

Leigh said although increasing trade with countries with lower wages had contributed to the decline of manufacturing, factory jobs were disappearing worldwide because of automation.

He said house prices had risen from two-and-a-half times average household income in the 1990s to a “record high” of 5.1 today. But he accused Dick Smith of perpetuating a “myth” that 95% of the rise in house prices had been caused by immigration.

Leigh blamed lagging rates of home construction and a rise in investors purchasing property at the expense of first-home buyers.

Leigh said studies had found diverse groups performed better in problem-solving, showing the benefits of immigration, but conceded “one concern about immigration does seem to be well-founded”.

“At least in the short term, migration appears to reduce the strength of community,” he said, citing his own research as an academic a decade ago which found in neighbourhoods where more languages were spoken, people were less likely to trust one another.

Leigh said “that hunkering down in the face of diversity is a short-term response, not a long-term one”. Over time, successive groups of migrants were first distrusted but now accepted.

“The melting pot works, but perhaps at a slow simmer rather than a quick boil,” he said.

The government should “help the melting pot boil faster” by encouraging volunteering and focusing grants for community groups on areas with the most migrants, Leigh said.

Australia should be wary of working holiday-maker agreements with countries where there is an “imbalance” of people wanting to come to Australia because the programs will become a source of “cheap labour” rather than a genuine reciprocal arrangement, he said.

“Reports of underpayment and abuse suggest a need for more spot checks on employers, and improved channels for temporary migrants to report wrongdoing without jeopardising their visa extension.”

Instead, Leigh suggested expanding the seasonal worker program for Pacific migrants which he said has “significantly lower reports of worker exploitation”.

Leigh said foreign investment was “about as popular as cane toads and fire ants” but warned, without it, Australia would “either have one-ninth less investment or domestic savings would need to rise dramatically”.

He warned against glamourising local ownership, arguing that barring foreign investors could contribute to market concentration. “Indeed, a fresh overseas owner who doesn’t have other interests in Australia is less likely to abuse their market power than a mogul who already has investments throughout the economy.”

Some of these arguments are valid in an economic sense and some are not. Free trade is a benefit. Cross-border investment is as well so long as it is channeled towards bringing more productive capacity, not just a change in ownership or triggering endless debt accumulation. It is not a net benefit to the existing population if it is allowed to take a key role in asset markets such as housing resulting in the pricing out of local youth.

Immigration can also be a benefit to the standing population in certain circumstances, increasing people to people links for trade and helping mitigate inflationary labour market outcomes during supply shortages.

However, notice how each of these needs to be taken on its merits. As circumstances shift in any political economy, so too do the cost benefit analyses of the three dimensions of globalisation that Leigh conflates. Appropriate policy-making responds to any shifting context to ensure maximum equity and utility for the polity. It doesn’t just mindlessly repeat dogma.

So, amid the conditions of today we have to ask is Leigh right or wrong? Free trade remains an intrinsic good that boosts productivity and ensures the lowest cost goods are available to the greatest number of people. Yet when large classes of working class people are displaced by it then extra effort has to be made to ensure that those workers are supported into their transition to new careers.

During such a period of oversupply of labour and wage lowflation does it make sense to accelerate immigration? Obviously not.

When that process is also increasing the illicit flow of cross-border funds into non-productive assets essential to household utility, such as houses, increasing prices thereof even as wages lag, does that make sense? Obviously not.

When a broken political economy prevents the apposite levels of planning and investment needed to ensure globalisation contributes to local amenity, such as in the provision of infrastructure and other public services, does it make sense to persist with it with one’s eyes closed? Obviously not.

Globalisation is not some intrinsic good that should never be modulated to maximise its benefits and minimise its costs. That path leads you to an impasse rather similar to what we have today in which large marginalised local populations rightly revolt against the blanket application of such dogma and the elites that promulgate it. Given said elites point blank refuse to acknowledge that there are big downsides to manage as globalisaiton advances, those that resist it have little choice but to campaign to throw the whole thing out and we end up polarised.

Labor especially is making a grave political miscalculation here. It is supposed to be the party of the Left, the ideological champion of the poor and marginalised classes of society. Yet this unmitigated and unmanaged open borders dogma is the precise opposite. It promotes a rabid class war on wage earners, denudes lower classes of affordable houses, degrades the assets of the commons and dramatically favours the owners of capital in situ in land and chosen business sectors such as property, retail and banking.

If it wants to mount an effective defense of globalisation, as it should, then Labor needs to do much more than this. It needs an entire raft of policies to address the fallout:

  • a comprehensive housing affordability platform. Proposed negative gearing reforms are excellent but not enough. There ought to be properly policed foreign buyer bans for existing property and a slowing of the migrant intake to allow supply to catch up;
  • comprehensive visa reform is vital to stabilising wages. It’s obvious that entire business lines, businesses and business sectors in the economy today exploit cheap foreign labour to undermine wages;
  • infrastructure investment needs to be boosted most certainly but it must also be acknowledged that Australia’s broken political economy is simply incapable of delivering it in a timely and productivity-enhancing fashion so, again, migration should be slowed to make it manageable.

None of this should be taken as an argument against globlisation. I support it. It is a public good. But if you want it to last then stop hypocritically ramming it down the throats of the people who you are supposed to represent and whose standards of living are getting killed by it.

They will abandon you for the first nutter that comes along that resonates with their needs.


David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


    • 2 big hairy gorillas at customs, immigration.
      1 is robotics and the other is AI intelligent software.
      Everyone agrees, that up to half of the workforce will be on the footpath in 10 years time.
      On a linear scale that is 5% increasing unemployment year on year.
      The disruption caused by the advance of technology is a number of times that caused by immigration.
      Once unemployment reaches 10% plus, the immigrants will be forcibly deported.
      Yesterday the CSIRO told us 40% will be out of work in 10 to15 years,

      • The impact on the labour market could be increased if there is also an economic downturn that coincides with the take up of new technologies..The SBS reported that there are over 2 million on temporary visas.

    • Not many good choices around:

      “The interesting aspect of all this is the absence of political debate and media coverage. It is fair to say that many on the right would deem the deregulation of the workforce to be a good thing to keep wages competitive for business. But Labor and the Greens? There has been little in the way of outcry from the left. While people on the ground in the union movement are reporting serial abuse of the ABN system, the upper echelons of the Labor Party have not been vocal, despite the undeniable ramp-up of foreign contracted labour.”

      • +1 When did become policy of the party of the working poor to advocate the neoliberal growth strategies of multinational billionaire property developers?

      • What on earth did you expect? Labour are ideologically wedded to the idea of open borders and handouts for all.

        To this day I have not come across a left-leaning party that has made the connection between high immigration and low wages which should cement the view that ‘The Left’ are, by and large, economically illiterate. It’s Econ 101 FFS.

  1. Well I must confess……

    I loathe our current government with an intensity which is sharpened every day.

    I cannot think about its casuistry and speciousness on just about every subject from housing affordability to taxation concessions, welfare, political entitlements, its handling of the public services and the military, and for its utter preparedness to lie to people about visas, money laundering, and immigration, without wanting to boot them out.

    But we couldnt deny either that the ALP is equally to blame for the economic malaise which has descended upon Australia.

    They are equally significant factors in

    – the turning of housing into a speculative asset,
    – the offshoring of export facing sectors of the Australian economy
    – the turning of the Australian economy into a menagerie of monopolies and oligopolies and the rise of the contract gouge as a core business model (across insurance, banks, phones, energy)
    – the debt loading of ordinary Australians
    – the culture of tax avoidance by wealthier Australians and corporate Australia and the consequent loading of middle and lower income Australians
    – the rogering of the Australian energy ‘market’
    – the rogering of the Australian education system
    – the blame apportionment of younger and poorer Australians embedded into the social welfare system (and the way older and wealthier Australians get away with welfare fraud pretty much scot free)

    The ALP – which masquerades as a party of progressive socio economic reform – has barely a shred of economic reform credential about it, and when you think about it, has a lot more form as defender of the vested interests which act as parasite upon ordinary Australians.

    I wasnt actually expecting that I would vote ALP next election, but have had moments where I thought I would.

    Its things like the Leigh speech which just remind that for anyone with an aspiration for a better Australia, or an aspiration for an economically competitive Australia the ALP is never going to be there the way they want.

    I am all for a diverse vibrant society, but I am not for a plethora of ghost cities, racial enclaves, shoebox slums, attitudes cultivated in wealth generation offshore, and the pricing of a generation of Australians out of home ownership, debt loading of Australians, and economic Ponzidom I suspect the Leigh vision of Australia’s immigration future entails for ordinary Australians.

    This is not so much an issue about immigration – Australia could put every person in China on a quarter acre block easily, and is already the most heavily foreign born nation in the OECD – and it isnt about values or culture – for the most part migrants who come here fit in fine, regardless of where they are from. It is about an economic narrative which makes sense and the management of any immigration in such a way as to benefit all Australians and future Australia. Australia doesnt have either, and the ALP is a key part of that.

    • Its good politics, new immigrants support Labour more than the Liberals. To gain power, boost your supporter base…

      Any such support on the Liberal side is being bled to One Nation.

      • I know plenty of migrants, including former refugees, who vote LNP. Why? Because conservatism is conservatism. In a lot of asian nations (for example) homosexuals are considered unclean and marriage sacred. People who have stuff, wont be too keen to share it or be taxed on it. People who got jobs by undercutting the locals, don’t want to be undercut themselves. Plenty of reasons.

    • We should outsource the management of Straya to someone like the Donald who know what they are doing !

    • > – the turning of the Australian economy into a menagerie of monopolies
      This is a huge problem. Deutsche Bank just reported on this in Australia. They estimated:

      95% of domestic air travel is by 2 companies.
      95% of fixed broadband is by 4 companies.
      70% of grocery retail is by 3 companies.
      77% of mortgages are held by 4 companies.
      80% of securities exchange is 1 company.
      95% of share registry maintenance is by 2 companies.
      82% of private health insurance is by 5 companies.
      86% of general insurance is by 4 companies.
      95% of mobile telecom is by 3 companies.
      66% of liquor retail is by 2 companies.
      70% of petrol stations is by 4 companies.

      They also found that it was better for companies return on investment to spend money on lobbying and political donations than on anything else.

      • The population ponzi Leigh is encouraging is primarily about fattening the returns of those oligopolists, without asking any questions about the fact of the oligopoly.

        Its for this same reason that the ASX is largely toxic for the international investment set. Australian business isnt ‘competitive’ in a global sense, it is a parasite on Australians and the ‘bite’ is kept in play through mainstream politicians including the ALP.

      • The 3 rules: In global business there is room only for 3 profitable companies in any sector.
        THREE, that is it.
        In a typical hardware oriented product:
        No 1 say has market share of 50% and earns 80% to 90% of all profits.
        No 2 has market share between 25% and 35% for 10% of the profits
        No 3 has market share of 10% to 20% and is typically lucky to break even
        That is the future fellahs.

      • This is not true in the server market. HPE is well and truly the market leader, but they’re nowhere near 50%, and there are more than two other notable players.

  2. Simple: labor needs more voters. all theses migrants are going to go straight on the worker scrap heap as they wont meet the demand for skilled workers and the workers in the health sector will be already filled from the displaced current workers.
    Many just arent coming to grips with the worker displacement from the arrival of new technology. It is going to have a huge impact. Trouble is I dont think labor can do much for them.
    when it all turns to custard everybody will be in the poo, especially labor

    • If Labor won’t represent the interests of the Workers, it will need to represent the interests of Centrelink recipients.

  3. Labor must believe this is an unlose-able election. And they may be correct due to the 2 party preferred voting we have. I would like to get your opinion on the impact on our democracy of alternate voting schemes.

    Labor seem to be representing the moderately over indebted while Liberal represent tax avoiders. What a state of affairs.

    • The treasonous sell-out of Australian workers by Cancera accelerates.
      Wouldn’t happen under the Swiss system – the people would over ride their treasonous parliament.

      • The Swiss system is great – it keeps a lid on the power wielded by government. No democracy is perfect but the Swiss system is superior by orders of magnitude. A large amount of power is, in fact, devolved to the Cantons which means there is competition between them, which itself is great for the citizens i.e. if a canton gets heavy handed with the tax stick, people just up sticks and bugger off to a better managed part of the country. Switzerland isn’t one of the most prosperous countries on planet for no reason.

        We don’t have democracy here: the two parties, serving vested interests, just do as they please and tell us it’s for our own good.

      • lol… really?? what would you do if you lived in Switzerland?

        wait, you would vote for unlimited migration (racism bad, mkay?), and removal of all gun rights (guns, thought crime alert!), minarets everywhere (its the religion of peace no?), how they treat women terribly (st gallen only gave women the right to vote in ’94! misogyny!!) and you would f up Switzerland. Then you would virtue signal the Swiss saying they are horrible racists and should be banned from running their lives the way they want.

        After the swiss made all the changes that leftists want, then you would complain about how its all going to shit.

      • lol, I was one of the first to criticise Muslim immigration here – out of historical interest I read the Quran back in the late 1990s.. I don’t vote on simple left right issues, that for morons. As for guns, if we had the obligatory Swiss style conscription and Swiss style gun culture and attitudes I’d be all for it. You’re one of these “left-right” binary brains aren’t you, and I do have a European citizenship and speak 3 languages. Go away binary brain.

      • lol… was trying to call out progressive bullshit, and used a cheap shot at you to do it. calling me out for said cheap shot is, poetic justice…

        happen to think that the swiss system works because switzerland is a really good fit for democracy, in terms of a small, homogenous population. democracy works really well anywhere you have a small, homogenous population. but once you add in more genetic/memetic diversity, it starts to fail. its a scaling problem mostly. happily, since can define the problem, solutions are possible, hence quite optimistic.

        could not care less about left/right. both definitions move around anyways, and evolve, so agree left/right means squat.

      • democracy works really well anywhere you have a small, homogenous population.

        Such as Switzerland, where >20% of the population are born overseas, and despite there being four official languages, 10% of the population speak something else ?

      • I lived in Switzerland for a couple of years. The reality of it rarely matches the Libertarian mythos. In particular, Swiss bureaucracy is legendary (one of my first lessons was that “efficient” does not necessarily mean “quick”). And while it might look fairly homogenous from the outside in, from the inside out it’s not.

        Democracy works well in Switzerland because it’s very democratic. In particular, the people have a mechanism for end-running politicians through Citizen Initiated Referendums.

        That is what is missing from most other “democratic” systems (eg: ours), and what makes them (much) more vulnerable to corruption and devolvement.

        As I keep saying, our systems are failing not because we have democracy, but because democracy is being slowly taken away.

  4. I voted ALP at the last election because of negative gearing alone. I’ll be voting for the libs at the next election.

    If there’s any doubt as to where the ALP would take us, look at Justin Trudeau’s new tax policy in Canada and his tax on the “wealthy”. If they tried that on here (where we fit the definition of wealthy, yet can’t afford to buy in our suburb) I think that I could convince my wife to leave Australia and head back to the US.

    • I thought I was going ALP next election, now I’m not sure where to go. No way should you go LNP. They’ve had their chance and they’ve proven they cant do the job. All they’ve done for 4 years is say “but labor!”. 4 years is too long to be going on about ‘the other guy’. That’s $800,000 (plus airfare, accom, catering etc) per MP, Senator and what have we to show for it? Energy insecurity, budget insecurity, economic insecurity.

    • The chances of Labor actually raising taxes are only slightly more than zero.

      They are nearly as captured by the neoliberal cancer as the Coalition.

    • You talk like there are only 2 parties. Is your income higher than $80k now? Do you realise that the LNP want to replace you with a 457 visa worker? It is relentless. About 200,000 Aussies per year have their careers destroyed by mass immigration.

      Even if the ALP cuts your wealth slightly, you would still be better off than most voters.

  5. to be fair, what else is left for the fake neoliberal left than to spruik globalization, immigration, gay marriage, …?

    they cannot even talk about traditional left ideas (economic inequality, labour exploitation, workers rights, nationalization of public services …) because they are true neoliberals who are in pockets of the rich. To create appearance of democracy and political choice they have to somehow differentiate themselves from right wing neoliberals that share their economic policies.
    There are very few differences left between right and left mainstream politics these day so they have to pursue extremes on those few unimportant issues.

    • sure they do… its just called diversity these days. i mean, if you accept that you live in a hereditary class system, clearly having some social mobility by way of a different coloured people represented in each class is a requirement.

      given that it is too hard to pretend that we live in a classless society anymore (if your apartment was purchased by your grand parents, you know which class you belong to), diversity is a good thing no?

      wait, who you know is also important?? sorry… you don’t live in a hereditary class system. you live in a hereditary caste system. all fixed.

    • ignore my previous reply – i’ve explained it super badly. mostly because it upsets me.

      think of these things not as ideas, but as un-ideas. they are bullshit masquerading as real things, for the purpose of bullshitting you and stealing your money.
      (a) globalisation has nothing to do with the free movement of capital (lol) or labor (lol is the understatement of the century here). it means the opposite, favoured access by cartels to lucrative commons for the purpose of first moved advantage in exploiting these.
      (b) immigration has nothing to do with people immigrating elsewhere for a better life. today immigration means preferential access to non local labor for the explicit reason of squeezing exisiting labour, with the added benefit of screwing your political opponents + sweet sweet govt pork for favoured minorities who vote your way. this is known as yǐ yí zhì yí in Chinese, and roughly means importing barbarians to fight your enemies.

  6. As the primary architects of the open economy Labor are in a bit of a bind on this. Secret speech style formal apostasy of Keatingism and a purge of the Keatingites is required.
    And the silly journalist narrative that the country was a hellish wasteland pre 83, and has been a “dynamic” paradise post all the “reforms” should be junked. Some things got better. Most things got worse. Labor need to accept responsibility for that sadly.

    • Some say the slide in support for the major parties equals something simple: both sides of politics were suffering from stagnant wage growth, whilst politicians have their snouts in the trough.
      So how bad is current wage growth? At about 1.7% , it is the lowest since records were kept.
      The last time growth was over 2% was when Abbott was PM in 2015. 5 years ago, it was 4%
      Australians are disillusioned because their leaders do not to have the answers, and do not care.
      Neither side can say where the next generation of jobs will come from or how their kids will be better off than them. Morgan Stanley has predicted that 200,000 jobs could be lost as the building boom rolls over.

    • A few months ago I saw Wayne Swan at an event that was on unemployment in Australia from WW2 until today. The evidence was before him that it was in the early 80s that the changes we know as neoliberalism were introduced and that it occurred under Hawke and Keating. He was unable to acknowledge the negative effects of these changes and defended Labor to the hilt. This institutional stubbornness of our political parties, the inability to honestly reflect on events that are now over a generation ago, the taboo that is admitting errors, retards our ability to reform. If no one has ever made a mistake, then why would anything ever need to be changed?

      • Holes in the govt agenda: both parties
        You cant spend your way to prosperity!
        A service industry cannot support an economy!
        The wealthy will not support the poor.
        You cant legislate aptitude -intuition- innovation-curiousness
        You cant leglislate personal courage

        The punters are now on to this: by 2020 to 2050 “Moore’s law” forecasts “narrow” artificial intelligence (AI) to evolve to, and critically surpass, “strong” or “generalised” AI,, that is equivalent to human functionality.
        In between 3 and 34 years a non-biological intelligence would pass a “Turing Test”, demonstrating through natural language conversations that it is indistinguishable from a human.
        The govt need to spell out the future. Doing nothing is not an option.

      • Wayne Swan cracked a poo at me when I suggested a UBI in the face of automation. His response was 1) Our dole is the best in the world; 2) Just make more positions in the public service.

        Yes. This actually happened.

      • Wayne Swan cracked a poo at me when I suggested a UBI in the face of automation. His response was 1) Our dole is the best in the world; 2) Just make more positions in the public service.

        Giving people jobs *is* a better idea than just giving them money.

        UBI in today’s world is little more than a subsidy for business.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        @ nathan,…”Yes. This actually happened”

        What,…he actually defecated in his pants,…in public!

  7. This wd go down well at the local pub. Reality is labor has abandoned the working class and sided with progressives eg gay marriage eg open borders eg green energy. I will vote for aust conservatives on immigration alone.

    The old labor men must be turning in their graves at the doctors wives party it has become

  8. Nothing new here. Waiting for EP to ask us to sign up for this rubbish.

    The politicians on all sides do not care about the people. Zero. Their property prices are their priority. Simple.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Yes, there is terrible rubbish going on within “the party of the people” Hareeba.
      Thats why we need enlightened folk, like your good self, to join the Party!
      Come on Reeby, do something pro active and positive, in the rehabilitation and Defence of our Democracy!
      Your Country needs you!

      • Globalisation …”I support it. It is a public good”. Other than being able to purchase cheaper goods can someone tell me how globalisation has been good for Australia.

        What a joke paper the Guardian is.

        Fancy Leigh stating Dick Smith suggested immigration is responsible for 95% of increase in housing prices. Total lie.

  9. “Indeed, a fresh overseas owner who doesn’t have other interests in Australia is less likely to abuse their market power than a mogul who already has investments throughout the economy.””

    The most voracious mogul of all is the Chinese Communist Party masquerading under various innocuous sounding brand names e.g. State Grid, John Holland, Greenland, Shanghai Pharmaceuticals, Chinalco etc.

    • A similar experience to banana republics in central america and Fiji… foreign ownership of infrastructure and eventually everything else leading to an enslaved local populace.

  10. The crush loading schools is turning Australia from the “poor white trash of Asia” to the “stupid trash of Asia”:

    “the bottom quarter of 15-year-olds in Singapore now show results similar to the average Australian student”
    “Students from Singapore are two years and four months ahead of Australian students in maths, 18 months ahead in science and 12 months in reading.”

      • and far more pro-active about ensuring kids with learning disabilities or other factor likely to depress their score don’t sit the test.

      • mild colonialMEMBER

        And all have glasses. If you have the slightest non mainstream holistic attitude to health one thing you will do for your kids is make sure they dont end up bespectacled at ten. I focused on letting my kid play and routinely encouraged her not to worry about her homework in primary school and that she can try failing some of her classes in highschool. Lots of hugs. No glasses.

      • If they have a genuine sight problem you might be limiting their options.

        Getting glasses at about 7 (can’t remember for sure – early-ish primary school) utterly transformed my ability to play cricket, tennis, squash, etc, overnight because suddenly I could clearly see the ball (soccer obviously less of a problem, but that also improved). I started wearing contact lenses at (from memory, it’s been a while) about 13-14. Didn’t get LASIK until I was into my 30s, and I wish I’d done it ten years earlier.

  11. What a lot of romantic globalisation horse shit! And the globalists accuse Dick Smith of harking back to some idealistic past vision of Australia.

    Andrew Leigh’s recipe for a robust and moden economy – Add a shed load of people, toss in a few grants and new taxes , stir vigorously and like magic everyone will be better off?

    To most people Globalisation is just tsunamis of capital sloshing around the globe leaving disruption in its wake. And capital will betray the developing world too, by automating them out of the picture.

    Biggest problem with our electoral system, only 1 last place on the voting slip and so many parties to put there.

  12. well frack me. Labor is chanelling their inner water melon to really go full retard.

    Dun know why the political merit of cutting immigration and increasing the refugee intake isn’t seen as a vote winner.

    If there’s a god please let a small meteor hit the strayan parliament house on a sitting day.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      The Major Parties don’t release a thought or an idea without polling and “market researching” it to death, but its not just the people they fear,…it’s organised money that can do them so much more harm.
      Look at Guillards crucifixion over the Mining tax.
      The FIRE sector want high immigration and big retailers fight for it to.

      Combine that with the disaster (for the ALP) of the NLPs enormously successful “stop the boats” campaign,…to understand why the Apparatchiks and spin doctors of the ALP are weary of going there.

      I still come across a large number older working class Australians ( as customers and at the Bowlo), who whole heartedly believe John Howard lowered the migrant intake,…he didn’t!
      I always point out that during Howard’s first 3 years in office, the intake averaged 86k per annum and that by his last 3 years it was over 200k,…a trippling of the number!, I point out.
      But so many STILL refuse to believe it,…simply because he bullied a few thousand refos,…the single greatest and most successful dog whistle in Australian political history,…the NLP are still receiving dividends from this today,…20 years later!

      But It is still, the fear of being labled racist that has many in the ALP not wanting to talk about this issue,… as so many Incorrectly assume, a discussion about reducing immigration, will lead to a movement or a proposing of “No immigration” or some kind of desire to reinstate the white Australia policy!

      When I bring the subject up, I always nominate a Number,…I always say 120k per year,…less than the current intake (do you know what that is l often ask before going on) of 200k+,….but also, still higher than the historical average. Then you can go on to discuss the problems caused by a higher intake. Often you are required confirm the non racist intentions of your position.
      The standard challenge is always put forward, everytime I have seen someone bring up immigration reduction at any ALP gig,…. a scripted monologue of platitudes to diversity and multiculturalism is put forward every time. (I’ve seen Luke Foley repete the same lines verbatim several times), they become eaisly disarmed when you clearly state you are all for that to!,…but that is not what I/we are talking about,…you should always go on to ask,…Who should decide THE Number,…big business lobbiest and Government behind closed Doors?
      Should the Australian people (of all colours) have a say in the matter?
      Why are we letting a National Embarrassment like Pauline Hanson lead this debate,…a debate millions of Australians want to engage in?

      Of course everyone gets a little nervous and the subject is passed over as soon as is politely possible by whoever is running that particular show,…but I always see nodding heads in the crowd.
      If we can get enough people to join the ALP who feel the same way,…then it’s policy course CAN be changed.
      Look at how Labor has been directed towards a lot of minority identity politics issues,…ask your self why,….could it be that a large percentage of the party, are motivated people from such minority groups?.
      Motivated enough to Join and Participate in the process and demand their issues be heard,…mmm?

      To what degree are YOU participating?

      Remember,…he who fails to participate,…Masterbates.

      • I suspect that engaging in discussion on this website contributes to the debate just as much as the membership of the two main parties. So there you are EP, you are an opinion maker.

  13. Relevant StakeholderMEMBER

    Institute created by immigrant retail/property magnate funds book on the benefits of globalisation/immigration, has a side benefit of building influence with Labor up and comer.

    In other news water is wet.

    What happened to giving speeches down the trades hall?

    • AI mate… 🙂 Intelligent posts are but the first to fall when AI takes over moderation. 😛

      Moderation Bot:This non-compliant post will be deleted in: 3… 2… 1…

    • See i told you computers dont think like humans
      one of the interesting sides in the development of AI was to have software solve geometric problems, like you all would have done at school in basic trigonometry.
      the sotfware was not given guidelines on how to prove say angles opposite equal sides for example, and it solved proved the theorem by an unknown route. Just that little insight gave engineers all sorts of guidelines on how to solve supposedly too hard problems.
      everything you see today, designed by computer is amazingly clever.

  14. Labor peddles population ponzi for think tank created and chaired by billionaire multi-national shopping centre owner, property developer and longtime Labor donor.
    I’m shocked.

  15. Leigh warned that “rightwing populists thrive on conflict and exploit our basic human instinct to hunker down in the face of difference”

    Did anyone see this little bit of wormtongue? The phrase should have been “in the face of adversity”, but he switched it to “difference”. Difference is always good, so it ends up accusing the populists of exploiting a human failing of fearing the good. Well worn phrases like “in the face of adversity” only really mean something because of usage. Modifying them is a bit of a bait and switch.

    This may seem trivial, but tricks like this are the opposite of rational thinking. George Orwell was right onto this.

    • +1 Wormtongue. What a beautiful word.
      The glib, cynical and unresponsive dismissal of legitimate concerns about excessive population growth.
      As an economist Andrew Leigh is more than aware of the load an dangerously high migration intake puts on the allocation of scarce resources, services and sustainability in a finite and fragile environment.
      Leigh’s failure to acknowledge these obvious negative externalities in a 30,000 word analysis is an appalling indictment on his credibility and leaves him wide open to condemnation as mouthpiece for Labor’s billionaire corporate donors. Yet another Labor sellout.
      His parents must be so proud.

  16. Is a major reduction to immigration rates by either Labor or LNP actually an election game-changer? Those that feel strongly have probably already swung to Hanson. It is not an issue that would swing my vote.

    • Fair point. NZ Labour were making similar noises and it didn’t help them – in fact plenty of “New” New Zealanders voted National precisely because of it.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Wrong,…there was a massive swing back to labor, post the immigration cut back announcement.
        Just not enough to get them across the line.

  17. How is it possible that places like Melbourne and Sydney are not building enough accomodation? There’s building effing everywhere. There are more active cranes in Melb and Syd than the whole east cost of North America.

    Near where I work currently they’re building a new development of 2000 homes, in a totally unsuitable site, to meet ONE WEEKs population growth in Melb.

    So if all THIS is not enough, the only answer is to allow LESS PEOPLE IN. If not, then we need to bring more people in to build for the more people coming in and so on and so on. Until one day it ends and the economy becomes a giant crater.

    It beggars belief that people think this is a sensible approach.

    And in the midst of all this – we allow developers to build dogboxes in the CBDs which have no long term value, to sell them to people WHO DON’T EVEN LIVE HERE, who have a known proclivity to leave them empty. All the while inflating the credit bubble whilst not addressing the actual problem, and using up resources that could be directed to productive construction.


    • “It beggars belief that people think this is a sensible approach”
      In the world of Frank Lowy and Harry Triguboff, this is the sensible approach.
      In the world of the beneficiaries of their billionaire largesse, this is the sensible approach.
      The Labor party (and the Libs) are owned by billionaire property developers.
      It makes perfect sense.

  18. “Leigh said closed societies, such as Australia under the White Australia policy and before trade liberalisation started in the 1970s, were “poorer and less dynamic” than open societies.”
    Yes, the Greeks and Italians did us a huge favour by saving us from the drudgery of eating meat and two veg every night of the week. But, once they had taught us how to cook spanakopita and linguini for ourselves, we did not need tens of thousands of additional immigrants coming here every year to teach us again and again how to cook the same things. Similarly, the Chinese and Indians have done us a huge service by breaking the anti-intellectualism of 1970’s Australia and encouraging students to study hard and attain high levels of education to pursue highly skilled jobs. But, once again, the existing immigrants and their children and grandchildren are quite enough to continue the tradition – we do not need 200,000 additional people coming here every year to re-teach us again and again the same lessons.

    • +1
      Conflate diversity with a high population growth rate
      Leigh and the other labor corporate sellouts refuse to argue the prudent population management case on its merits.
      Straight out of the corporate playbook they divert to the dog whistle.
      It is cynical.
      It is dishonest.
      It works every time.

    • “Similarly, the Chinese and Indians have done us a huge service by breaking the anti-intellectualism of 1970’s Australia and encouraging students to study hard and attain high levels of education to pursue highly skilled jobs.”

      i dont think they ever did this. they only did this for themselves, honkies still be slackin in 2017.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Yes, It should be pointed out that we can “learn the same lessons” from 100,000 arrivals per year.

  19. The poisoned semantics, dishonest conflation and arrogant morally involuted sloganeering from this wormtongued puppet presented through this oligarch’s institute is grease that will make it much more comfortable for Labor to slide down the ballot sheet. Lowy only needs to look at what is happening to his FFA for a preview.

  20. Debate matters little now as the clowns that run, or is it ruin, this country have put us on a scary trajectory. Economists (Leigh for instance) are profoundly dangerous as they have absolutely no idea how an economy generates economic wealth. All they do is promote policies that perversely contribute further to the decline of the economy. Growth in the Australian economy has been a mirage that will be blown away when the economy slows.

  21. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Another one that I was so very, very wrong about…

    *walks out, dejected in the face of difference…*

  22. Liberals think its wonderful when migrants want to have a better standard of living, but when citizens seek to defend (or god forbid, attempt to improve) their own standard of living, they are labelled nationalists/xenophobes/white supremacists etc. Apparently only immigrants are entitled to something better, the rest of us are supposed to hand it over without argument.

  23. Saddened to see Leigh paint himself into this corner. I believe his intentions are good, but his economics chops are blinding him to reality here.