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.