Peter Dutton triples-down on Howard’s immigration ‘bait-and-switch’

By Leith van Onselen

On Friday, Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, launched another attack on ‘boat people’, while conveniently ignoring the hundreds of thousands of immigrants let into Australia each year by plane:

Peter Dutton says rising support for high-skilled migration in Australia is an example to the rest of the world that voters will accept immigrants if they believe the system is being run fairly.

Speaking to an audience of about 50 at the Policy Exchange in Westminster, Mr Dutton said immigration concerns had been at the heart of the Coalition’s victory in 2013, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the surge of support for the far-right AfD in Germany…

The Immigration Minister said Australia was a proud migrant nation, but trust in the system had deteriorated when the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments wound back the Pacific Solution, sparking a surge in boat arrivals.

During that time, he said, people smugglers had been able to charge $20,000 for a journey to Australia but that fell to $1000 when the Coalition begin turning back boats following its election victory in 2013…

The government was using analytics to try to weed out potential terrorists travelling to Australia, he said, and structural changes to the visa system would be on the horizon…

Mr Dutton did not resile from his criticism of the 50 refugees from Manus Island to be re-homed in the United States, some of whom were photographed wearing sunglasses and casual clothing…

Dutton’s verbal bashing of refugees – whose intake is only around 15,000 annually – follows his announcement in May that the Government would maintain Australia’s permanent migrant intake at record levels (circa 205,000 people a year) in 2017-18:

It also follows the Turnbull Government’s decision last year to 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 strain on the housing market and infrastructure.

And it follows the Turnbull Government’s changes to parental visas from 1 July 2017, which allows migrants to bring into Australia their elderly parents, thus further ageing the population and placing even greater strains on Australia’s healthcare system and infrastructure.

Dutton’s approach to immigration policy resembles that of former Prime Minister John Howard, who performed a ‘bait-and-switch’ on the Australian people whereby he scapegoated and slammed the door shut on the relatively small number of refugees arriving into Australia by boat all the while stealthily shoving open the door to economic migrants arriving here by plane.

The ultimate result was a massive lift in Australia’s net migration intake, which surged from the early-2000s and pushed population growth to roughly twice long-run norms. In Howard’s first three years in office, Australia’s annual net overseas migration (NOM) averaged just 86,000 people a year. In his last three years in office, NOM averaged 188,000 people a year, and has remained high ever since (and is projected to remain high indefinitely).

John Howard never articulated to the Australian people that the Government was going to dramatically expand the nation’s immigration intake. Why? Because he knew the electorate would be dead against it. And Dutton is repeating the same trick again – giving the impression that the Government is stemming the inflow by cracking on the tiny amount of refugees, all the while allowing in huge numbers of economic migrants in a bid to inflate aggregate GDP growth, support the housing bubble, and please the Coalition’s large corporate backers, who benefit the most from a growing customer base.

For the rest of us, massive immigration-fuelled population growth is a net negative. It is the key reason why those of us living in Sydney and Melbourne are stuck in traffic, cannot get a seat on the train, are experiencing crowded hospitals and schools, and/or cannot afford a home.

The net result of this “Big Australia” policy – supported by the three major parties – is that living standards are being eroded as the capacity of the economy and infrastructure to absorb all of the extra people is overwhelmed, workers face increased competition for jobs (and record low wages growth), and the country’s natural resources base is diluted among more people.

Australia desperately needs a frank and honest national conversation about population policy, which focuses on whether or not large-scale immigration is benefiting the living standards of the incumbent population. Not the dishonest ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach employed by the Coalition, which deliberately conflates the immigration intake with refugees, privatises the gains from mass immigration for its big business backers, and socialises the costs on everyone else.

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Unconventional Economist
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    • The population of Perth has risen by 550,000 over the past 10 years and this is where about 88% of the State’s population now lives.
      WA is largely too dry and too hot for human habitation or agriculture. Spreading people out does improve their quality of life but does not reduce their consumption of food, water or non-renewable resources and in fact could well increase energy consumption due to the large distance travelled.
      This type of vegemite approach, spreading people more evenly across the countryside, has limitations to be a real solution to overcapacity, But I totally agree that living in a reasonable sized country town with strong community support and access to top notch education and medical facilities provides a massive increase in quality of life compared with living inner-city Perth.

    • Agreed. I moved from Greater Melbourne to Greater Perth about 5 months ago and am very happy with the move. I migrated in 2000 to Greater Melbourne. At that time Melbourne used to be great in many ways. Have seen the deterioration from 2004/5 onwards. Not visible at first but now…. The rents are high, the trains are more crowded. I am quite happy here in Greater Perth. The Trains are not as crowded. the Buses are pretty good (expensive though). The rents are low.

  1. It is unbelievable that he would spruik Howard’s red herring abroad!

    And I do wonder why British politicians did not do their own bait and switch. Did they think British voters are too smart to be tricked? Or were they ordered to let in refugees by the EU?

    Japan only let in 28 refugees in 2016 and Japan still does not do the bait and switch!

  2. Do you realise that having a NZ passport entitles people to come over regardless of where they were born? And I bet hardly any Kiwi passport comes here to work for illegal wages.

  3. howard’s bait-n-switch was THE master stroke, and clearly demonstrative of how our current political class pales in comparison to the cunning, duplicity and political grease that characterised the rodent. it’s the australian political equivalent of hannibal’s double pincer at cannae; decieve the australian public into attacking your visibly laid out bait, and while that is happening swing around them on both sides in order to flood them with ‘economic’ migrants.

    the power of this meme has effectively kept the australian electorate engaged in a fruitless brawl with a handful of asylum seekers for the middle of the battlefield — just like the romans at cannae — for the entirety of the last decade, while a veritable alphabet soup of work and chain migration visa holders take up their positions on the flanks, poised to initiate economic and infrastructural mass murder on the incumbents compacted, increasingly, tightly in the centre. yikes.

    • Few of reason why the ‘bait and switch won’t work this time; JAFL Bishop has already slapped down Dead Eyes comments on refugees; Howard for some reason was popular, this Government and Dead Heart are not; people have seen the effects of the last 15 years of over immigration and there aren’t too many who think it’s a good thing. The only reason Dead Head is reaching for the bait and switch is because they are devoid of any creative policy or comment and reach back to the past for something that was successful then that probably isn’t now.

      • The ‘bait and switch’ did NOT work the first time. Howard was voted out in a landslide and lost his own seat (only the 2nd PM in history to lose his seat). So yes, while excessive migration might have received limited coverage in the MSM, etc the electorate wasn’t fooled. At the end of the day, the electorate is (nearly) always right.

      • the bait and switch DID work, howard was voted out because of workchoices, not because of ramping up immigration. the public has, maybe until recently, largely swallowed it whole. the sheer amount of indignation and clamoring over the boat refugees versus our mainline immigration intake has been totally disproportionate.

      • I guess the left-wing media can always rationalise election losses.
        Howard loses, must be workchoices.
        Rudd loses leadership to Gillard due to lack of popularity, must be because didn’t introduce carbon emissions trading scheme.
        Gillard loses leadership to Rudd due to lack of popularity must be because of introduction Carbon Tax (note the inconsistency with Rudd’s loss)
        etc etc
        Let people think what they want. The wisdom of the majority trumps that of individuals in most cases.

      • The ‘bait and switch’ did NOT work the first time. Howard was voted out in a landslide and lost his own seat (only the 2nd PM in history to lose his seat).

        Howard started ramping up immigration while pointing and yelling at refugees in the 2001-2003 timeframe (Tampa was 2001).

        He didn’t lose his seat until the 2007 election.

        So yes, while excessive migration might have received limited coverage in the MSM, etc the electorate wasn’t fooled.

        Well, apparently they are fooled, because 2/3 of them have been casting primary votes for Liberals or Labor for the last decade and a half of increasingly higher immigration.

      • Really? Because according to graphs like this –×524.jpg – it was only in Howard’s last term that migration went up dramatically.

        The first graph in this article shows the steady increase in migration during the early 2000s.

        As for 2/3 voting for the dual party duopoly, that’s the nature of our political system, it shows nothing about people liking migration.

        Well it’s down from more like 75-80%, so people are learning, albeit slowly.

  4. I would agree to not letting in people if they do not have a NZ passport. But you want to stop them from coming here even if they have a NZ passport. I think one needs to have an income of NZ$48k to get a NZ passport. If that is the case, why would a NZ passport holder come to AUS to work for $10/hour?

    Heck, Aussie bosses can not threaten Kiwi passport holders with deportation so what likelihood is there that a Kiwi passport comes here to work for illegal wages?

    The elephants in the room are “student” visas, work visas, spouse visas, tourist visas. Those are the visas that destroy the careers and lives of Aussies like me.

    Winson should not apologise – mass low-wage immigration of 3rd world passports (rather than Kiwi passports) is a choice made by ALP+Greens+LNP.

  5. “the Turnbull Government’s changes to parental visas from 1 July 2017, which allows migrants to bring into Australia their elderly parents”

    I work in Telecommunications an have a new team of mostly Indian background people. Three of them asked to take 3-4 weeks annual leave during their three month probation. The reason – to fly home and pack up their parents and bring them back to Australia.

    I have a feeling the needle on this ageing population dial won’t move one bit going forward.

  6. It seems as if Dutton is heavily positioning himself as the Hard Right Alternative to Turnbull at the moment. This move makes no real sense otherwise (not that has ever stopped this government from doing or saying stuff).
    It seems as if ducks are lining up against Turnbull; the High Court probably rules against Joyce next week, the “Yes” wins in November…. the higher power bills start hitting mailboxes at the same time when the temperatures are increasing.
    The new England by-election will be a cluster muck with One Nation, Cory’s Conservatives, Tony Windsor all causing chaos.

    • Sutton, the H.RAT, hmmm?

      Well, that’s some way to try to gain the reflected glory of the other “H” Rodent, the original refugee-basher and everyone-else-importer.

  7. The bait and switch makes sense. Lets say you are Dutton… You know, (a) economy will explode like a house of cards without mass immigration (and the illegal flow of funds it brings), (b) banking crisis, 4 pillars dies and westpac needs to be nationalized (cause RBA has told you), (c) political upheaval not seen in a generation, (d) sharp uptick in every indicator – violence, theft, domestic abuse, the works, (e) donor class pulls funding from incumbents, and looks for new champions, as they run for safety from the angry mobs.

    what would you do? bait and switch, also known as trying to aim for a soft landing, is the only option. realistically, what else can he do?

    this is not to say it is not dishonest, despicable and far more importantly, has a snowballs chance in hell of working. but that is beside the point right.

    • But he can sell PR visas for $250k each instead of giving them away for $0 each – thus boosting government coffers.

      I know a bloke who can not get PR because he is supposedly not skilled – even though he has a high income and a big heart (the opposite of a tightwad). Yet if someone gets a dumbed down “degree” and works for rock bottom wages, they are given a PR visa!

      The big hearted guy spends a lot more and has a much higher income than the guy who worked for illegal wages during and after completing his “degree”. Which kind of immigrant do you prefer?

      • sure, I would absolutely prefer the high skill immigrants.

        That being said, how many high skill immigrants do you think are lining up to come to Australia? And are they likely to buy apartments ? If you stopped the ‘less-desirable’ (shall we agree to call them, without getting into specifics…) who exactly would be buying High-Rise’s apartments sight unseen?

        Anyone we want as an immigrant, has better options worldwide. To quote the smarter Marx, ‘never be a member of a club which wants you as a member’.

        Its about flow right, flow of illegal money. Anyone we want, is generally not up for ticket clipping on illegal money, having generally made it legally.