SA Premier Jay Weatherill rejects East Coast population ponzi

By Leith van Onselen

The lobby group representing migration agents has warned that South Australia’s population growth could fall to zero following visa reforms by the federal government. From The Advertiser:

Immigration experts are warning that the state’s population growth could slow to wards zero per cent and economic problems will worsen if changes to federal visa rules lead to a drop in the number of temporary and permanent migrants moving to SA.

Almost 6400 more people moved interstate than arrived in SA in 2015-16, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics “net migration” figures. The situation has deteriorated since 2006-007, when SA lost about 3400 more residents to other states than it gained.

In net terms, SA gained 9000 new residents from overseas in 2015-16.

Former Migration Institute state president Mark Glazbrook said SA had become dependent on overseas arrivals for population growth but this was being put at risk by policy changes.

“Births and deaths and net interstate migration equal about zero [population growth],’’ Mr Glazbrook said.

“So we are entirely reliant on migration for all of our population growth. Within the migration industry it’s anticipated that migration outcomes will fall to about 5000 people per year over the next two or three years.”

Mr Glazbrook said planned changes to some visa categories would make it difficult for employers to hire workers from overseas. International students could be discouraged from coming to Australia by restrictions on obtaining work visas after they completed their studies.

A State Government spokeswoman said state authorities were in discussions with the Federal Government to ensure the state could access skilled migrants to help employers fill job vacancies.

Here’s the chart of South Australia’s population growth:

And here’s the chart of South Australia’s labour underutilisation rate (i.e. unemployment and underemployment combined):

With South Australia’s labour underutilisation running at 16% – nearly 2% above the national average – where is the sense in adding to labour supply via immigration, while also placing strains on infrastructure and housing?

Thankfully, South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, has to date rejected the Migration Institute’s special pleadings. From In Daily:

Weatherill made a virtue of the state’s rate of population growth, pointing out that while it is low compared to other states, it is relatively high by international standards.

“In South Australia over the last five years, during the Census period 2011 to 2016, (we) grew at five per cent,” he said. “That’s faster than France, it’s faster than the UK, it’s faster than the US. So in international terms population growth has been quite robust.

“In international terms, (we are) growing like a chemistry experiment. We are growing at twice the rate of the growth of the OECD, three times the rate of the growth of many countries around the world.”

When challenged about the state’s decline in population growth relative to other Australian states, he said: “We’re not running a high population growth strategy.”

“Look if you want to spend an hour and a half in traffic or spend over a million dollars for a home and actually deal with the crime and the dysfunction and the disunity that occurs in some of those other fast-growing places you’re welcome to it, but we like it here.”

Well done Jay Weatherill in putting ordinary residents’ living standards and sustainability ahead of the growth lobby. We could do with you in Victoria and New South Wales, where the growth lobby runs the show and living standards are unambiguously being crush-loaded.

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Unconventional Economist


    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Yes, I’m a big fan to,
      Jay is from the Left faction of the ALP,…but the right faction has run the party for over 30 years, that could be changed.
      Please help

      That kind of sexist, Gender misappropriating and smutty behavior, is frowned apon in the Party,…please clean your self up before attending any ALP meetings.

    • He might be your favourite ALP pollie but he is basically taking credit for SA being a sh*thole.

      “We’re not running a high population growth strategy.” Really??? States get to choose? I thought it was rammed down from the Feds. Immigrants do not choose SA because of (1) lower employment prospects (see unemployment and underemployment statistics cited by Leith) and (2) because far from being “mediterranean” the place is absolutely unliveable in summer, especially without aircon from the blackouts!

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        That maybe true, but SA has been ahead of the curve for decades when it comes to social rights. It is much more advanced than many Eastern State folks know about. Personally I kinda of like SA being a little bit off radar. Keeps the beaches clean and the roads easy.

      • “It is much more advanced than many Eastern State folks know about.”

        Looks like I forgot to mention the inferiority complex and that everyone tells you that they didn’t get convicts!! I wish more immigrants were choosing destinations based on social rights as then Sydney would be less full!

  1. Interesting graph. So even in 2001 SA had too much immigration!

    I am afraid Jay secretly loves the ponzi.

    Jay could ban foreigners from owning residential land in SA and thus cut the price of land. He could also charge every schoolkid of every 457 visa worker steep fees for studying in SA. Maybe even charge foreigners $40/day for a bus ticket.

    • The is a huge immigration industry minting money off this. They should be included in the “Botox Boom” stats:

      This is how CPA made their millions, verifying accounting qualifications. EA (Engineers Australia) does the same thing for IT and engineers.

      Immigration agents are minting it – my company employs them the handle the importation of 457 holders.
      When a local resigns, we just replace him with a 457 holder or two. The immigration agent handles all the paperwork “proving’ that we couldn’t attract a suitable local.

      So for each IT immigrant there is around $4000 for the agent, $3000 for EA to “vet” their qualifications and $5000 to the Immigration dept. All these fees can now be deducted from the immigrant’s wages.

      • I just resigned my long time membership of Engineers Australia. When the nice lady called to ask me why, I told her that I didn’t want to belong to an organisation that was making huge bank off bringing in truckloads of foreigners to compete for the jobs of me and my colleagues at slave rates, and paying their executives a fortune to do so. I used words like “unethical” and “corrupt”, and asked that she pass my thoughts back up their food chain. She very quietly said she’d do that, but I haven’t heard anything back from them.

      • It is a testament to the power of migration agents and the rest of the growth lobby that they have managed to convince this population that endless population growth in a finite space is not only possible but essential to their existence.

  2. I’m trying to look for a role in Adelaide, Perth or Canberra, but businesses think it’s a risk to hire someone from interstate. (I;m from Melbourne) I am so sick of Melbourne.

    • ‘businesses think it’s a risk to hire someone from interstate” seriously? what industry?

    • Yeah, Adelaide businesses are very reluctant to hire from interstate for some reason. Up until recently I was applying for jobs in SE QLD and Adelaide that would match my qualifications and experience to a tee, but always got knocked back for an interview usually after an initial phone call. I made it very clear that we were motivated to leave Sydney and establish ourselves, but I was never asked to interview. Feedback was usually that they wanted someone straight away so hired local.

      Thankfully I found a great job on the North Coast of NSW so sayonara Sydney you festering hell-hole.

      • Part qualified accountant. (CPA 1/3 done) With public accounting experience in insolvency, but also commercial experience with businesses of $700 mill revenue.

        I applied for a position in Canberra, and the feedback was we just want someone local, your skills were quite good.

    • Our experience in Canberra with employing young professionals from interstate is that they or their partners start pining for family and friendship networks and familiar places, and head back home after a couple of years, particularly if they start a family. This has happened with well over 50% of hires, so we prefer to employ locals if possible.

      • How long do locals stay in the same job before moving on ?

        IME with people under 35, any more than 3 years with the same employer these days and you’re a ‘lifer’.

      • @Jacob Homeless people won’t be considered.

        @doc We have local people who started as recent grads who are still here more than a decade later, and quite a few in the 5-10 year range. Much better result than the people from interstate. I dunno…maybe it’s something about Canberra that causes people to have trouble developing support networks etc so they head home. UE may be able to provide some insights…he lived here for a while….

      • PS or private ?

        From personal anecdote, I moved interstate (Brisbane -> Sydney) and left after about four years, but I left to go overseas not back to Brisbane. Two jobs in that four years, but stayed with the second employer as part of the overseas move (and for a total of six years, eventually made redundant after a takeover).

        Generally speaking, the biggest reasons people change jobs are more money and bad management. It wouldn’t surprise me if people prepared to make large moves for work are more likely to move on in general, regardless of whether that’s just to another job locally, or further afield.

      • The support network rings true as part of the problem. It’s not an overtly friendly town & has snobbery (or is guarded/defensive due to political stigma?). Smithy’s point about poor management might carry weight too considering the whinging I’ve had to listen to from many PS quarters over the years….. the stories sound insane.
        I was told that the reason pot was decriminalised & the creche services in ACT are cheaper/better is that they’re having trouble keeping people there & that the average PS last ~5 years before bolting. There’s far worse places to be, but the people who should be taking a good hard look at it’s transient workforce problems, are the ones in charge…..

      • I think if you get a few years out of someone these days you’re doing good. The whole notion that an employee stays with you for life, doesn’t exist anymore.

      • @ Colin… I have first hand knowledge of a female Executive Level 2 who would conduct business meetings while planking….ie lying rigidly face down on the floor and conducting conversations while speaking into the floor. The other (largely female) members of the team apparently accepted this as OK, because we must all be tolerant of each others differences. There was another Executive in the same department who used to lie sideways on her desk, with her clothing hiked up and her vulva exposed to passers by. We have to be tolerant, though.
        The department of PM&C apparently has 20% of staff who identify as indigenous, even though they are about 2% of the population.

        I have long experience of dealing with the APS, including working in the APS as a young bloke. In that job, a senior member of the department’s IT team once asked me to “do something with a computer” to impress some visitors from the PNG government because he had no ability to do anything at all with a computer himself. I don’t think he even knew how to log on to our systems.

        The APS pompously touts itself as being “world’s best practice” in all areas, while actually being a shambolic mess of lunacy and inefficiency that boggles the mind once you get involved with it. Not all areas of course, there are good people doing good work, but nonsense is pretty widespread.

      • IME with people under 35, any more than 3 years with the same employer these days and you’re a ‘lifer’

        And note that when an Australian employer decides you’re a lifer, it’s often career limiting – I left my previous employer, and in fact, career, in part because greater than five years service counted against me with respect to opportunities for advancement i.e. they showed a strong preference towards recent arrivals or people from outside the company when filling non-entry level positions.

      • The whole notion that an employee stays with you for life, doesn’t exist anymore.

        I think it’s more that the notion of an employer who employs you for life, doesn’t exist anymore. Especially if you want outrageous things like salary increases, skills development and career opportunities.

        Employees are rarely the ones calling the shots.

    • Notwithstanding individual experiences, the Australian employment market is parochial and insular in a special way. Being local seems to be an overriding factor, more important than merit or experience. Risk avoidance, or terror of risk, amongst employers extends to highly prescriptive job selection so that having done the exact same job before enables someone to be a candidate. This lack of imagination, even stupidity, is seen in the marketing/advertising industry where companies will only employ from their own side of the business: no one can swap between client or agency or media owner experiences. Such restrictions do not occur in London or Paris or New York.

      Add inertia to the parochialism and the restrictive limits of employment. This is the sloth shown by employment intermediaries and employers. For instance, a former colleague has had UK recruiters and employers calling him in Sydney for jobs in London but not a single local recruiter or employer has made such an effort. It seems his experience and skills are more valuable in the UK than Australia.

      • I don’t think it’s just the marketing or advertising professional that shows that. I think it’s the general attitude among all employers in Australia.

        I don’t see what the risk is. The risk is on the applicants side, they’re moving interstate. On the other hand either a local or someone from interstate can leave within the year.

      • Yes, see this all the time.
        Often seems to relate to a startling lack of expertise among managers and recruiters, who are unable to see any commonality in maintaining a database using SQL Server 2014 compared to maintaining a database using SQL Server 2014.

        Of course, at other times they are prone to deciding that if you previously created a game engine in C++, you are obviously competent to make a finance product, as long as it is also to be coded in C++.

      • I don’t see what the risk is.

        The risk is in employing someone who could, you know, not be the perfect worker for the job.

        Bringing them in from interstate just adds to that risk – and they might even have the temerity to ask for relocation expenses !

        This is just another manifestation of the woeful management in most Australian companies. They generally have no idea how to hire well and thus view it as a high-risk operation. Same reason 6-month probation periods are now commonplace. Straya is the place where a few years of working internationally is more likely to work AGAINST you rather than for you.

        I recently interviewed at AWS. That was an eye-opening (if somewhat gruelling) exercise. Even relatively large local players like Suncorp aren’t even playing the same game.

      • Drsmithy, that risk is the same weather not the person is from interstate or not. That’s why employers have the 6 month probation period enshrined for them in law.

        If you are not advertising that relocation expenses are included, why would someone ask for them? If anyone did just say no?

      • If you are not advertising that relocation expenses are not included, why would someone ask for them?

        Why wouldn’t they, especially if they knew the position had been difficult to fill? Okay, not if you’re applying to be a burger flipper, but if it’s a post entry level position, I think you’d be mad not to ask, and mad to take the job if the employer is so stingy as not to assist at this point – i.e. when you have more leverage as a potential employee than you will ever have once you’ve signed on.

        If anyone did just say no?

        Assuming you’re hiring because there’s work that needs to be done, because saying ‘no’ means taking more time to fill the position. If the work needs doing at all, it’s more valuable to get it done now than to stuff around for a few more weeks to save a few pennies out of the recruitment costs.

      • Robert, your response is exactly what Drsmithy is referring to. So they revert to the status quo.

      • Robert, your response is exactly what Drsmithy is referring to. So they revert to the status quo

        By which I think you mean ‘and hence employers avoid employing candidates with any market power – that is, candidates who have any ability to add value.’

        And therefore Australian recruitment practices are geared towards finding the least suitable candidate for any position, who is naturally paid peanuts, which is actually too much for the limited utility they bring given how mismatched they are for the job they are asked to do.

      • Drsmithy, that risk is the same weather not the person is from interstate or not.

        Hiring interstate makes it harder. For example, it’ll likely involve at least one serious phone interview (vs a simple ‘can you answer the phone and recite your own name’ type screen), plus maybe flying someone around for a face-to-face if they are promising.

        If you are not advertising that relocation expenses are included, why would someone ask for them? If anyone did just say no?

        Sure. But you have to make that decision. Which probably means having a policy about it. It also means you might end up with a great candidate, but only interested in you as an employer if you pay relocation. Argh !

        These are all things that complicate the hiring process. Ie: make it riskier. That’s the point. Far easier to just not open the can of worms in the first place.

      • Cheers for the discussion guys, looks like it’s more of the same in this hell hole called Melbourne.

    • Re: Perth, the interstate risk is only part of the issue. More at play is likely just the economic circumstances. Whilst the unemployment rate isn’t terribly high at the moment, there’s still a strong mindset that things are terrible, and people are waiting for the boom times (i.e 3% unemployment rates) to return. Anecdotally, I’ve observed mixed responses – professional services seem to be taking full advantage, and are able to recruit high caliber graduates, and I know one public sector department that isn’t recruiting at all.

      Re: Canberra, I did a 4 year stint there in 2 different jobs (private and public) and it was as DrSmithy and Colin said – combination of factors. That being said, some of my best mates (who were fellow graduates) have settled there and will likely stay for life – but most have stayed in the public sector sphere.

    • I would say that here in Adelaide people assume East-Coasters will get sick of the place soon enough and will want to go home.

      Also, Adelaide is very. very much about “it’s who you know, not what you know”. It’s the reason why people are willing to fork out $14,000 annually for private schooling. You’re buying the network more than anything.

      Private Schools make a point about “taking care of your own”. I.e. other students from the same school. Nepotism is rive and part of the Great Subtle Australian Corruption.

      All this would be somewhat bearable if application procedures weren’t so INSANELY over the top and drawn out. Some more respect for other people’s time would go a long way.

  3. The biggest challenge facing SA and other regional parts of Australia is the current Oz economic model which favours unproductive speculation and #FakeInvestment with bank credit creation directed towards asset price speculation.

    It is inevitable that when that is the monetary model, centralisation to a few key asset markets will occur as the safest debt based punts are those that follow earlier debt based punts.

    Keep betting on black or as close to black as possible. Keep betting on Sydney and Melbourne with scraps for everyone else.

    Redirecting policy towards productive investment will take some time but the first step is for APRA to be disabanded and its functions to be reabsorbed by Treasury.

    Clear and explicit Private Bank credit creation regulation to restrict #FakeInvestment and encourage productive investment is required.

    APRA is not fit for this purpose.

    Nor should an attempt be made to make it as this is a job for govt not some pseudo independent outfit informed by neoliberal ideological obsessions.

    The sooner SA ALP and Federal ALP get their heads around the problem the sooner they will start working out what needs to be done.

    Start tilting policy away from private bank credit creation directed to unproductive asset price speculation and towards productive investment.

  4. More accurately: East Coast population ponzi rejects South Australia.

    Weatherill is shaking fists at clouds.

  5. I’m from melbourne
    I’m surprised that they don’t put in policies to entice people to Adelaide Albury etc
    It’s cheaper better life – guess it comes down to employment.
    Everyone just keeps jamming in Melb

  6. “Look if you want to spend an hour and a half in traffic or spend over a million dollars for a home and actually deal with the crime and the dysfunction and the disunity that occurs in some of those other fast-growing places…”

    “Disunity”. Note that well, he mentioned disunity, and that’s a critical point. He not only understands, but has publically stated that existing citizens don’t like the immigration madness, which will soon lead to a dislike of immigrants with consequent social disruption. He’s bloody right too.

    Weatherill for PM.

  7. Who does Weatherill think he is?
    Population policy will continue to be run by migration agents for migration agents and the rest of the growth lobby, whether he likes it or not.

  8. What needs to be factored is the mass exodus to the east of recent graduates and individuals (around the 30 yr age mark) that haven’t settled for personal, family or career reasons.

    The ALP in SA is getting smashed for a variety of reasons. Xenoponzi playing his flute has attracted a fair few voters as well. LNP couldn’t organise a root in a brothel.

    Unless SA plans sufficiently for the medium-to-long term it will remain a parochial and pissant backwater.

  9. I lived in Adelaide for a few years, it was a great place. Unfortunately my company got taken over (by an incompetent multi-national), so I had to return to Sydney. There just isn’t the depth of employment as there is in other cities for certain professions.
    Most of the great people I worked with have moved elsewhere too, whether it be Melbourne, Sydney or London.
    That is really the challenge for SA, how to keep and attract decent jobs to the state.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Yes – I fully agree with this. I grew up in Adelaide and still love going for a visit. But out of all my friends, only two of them still live and work in Adelaide. Everyone else is either East Cost Oz (about 50%) and the rest of them are working permanently overseas.

      There just isn’t the depth and variety of opportunity in Adelaide for most careers.

  10. 40 graduates per job in SA and that labour underutilisation rate and the 30 year lower life expectancy of homeless people means that SA will or has a lower life expectancy than South Africa for their homeless

  11. Nobody wants to move to South Australia for the same reason no one wants to move to Mali or the Central African Republic. The economy is flat, has been for decades, and shutting down Holden is going to make it worse.

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Yes, it’s very similar to an African republic here. What an astute observation.

  12. “Almost 6400 more people moved interstate than arrived in SA in 2015-16”
    “Births and deaths and net interstate migration equal about zero [population growth],’’ Mr Glazbrook said.
    Maybe I am missing something but this is not reflected in the first chart

    • The ABS demographics release for Jun ’16 gave SA net interstate outflow as 6400 as stated by Glazbrook.
      The downloadable spreadsheet ‘Table 2 – Components of Population Change’ gave natural increase of 6497 for the same period, which is pretty damn close in a state with a couple of million people.

      The chart you’re referring to looks correct with respect to natual increase, but seems to understate interstate migration from SA, which had grown to 6900 by Dec 2016, rather than between 2000 and 3000 as the chart appears to say.

  13. Migrant guestworker slum landlord Xenophon isn’t going to be happy about this.
    How is he going to fill his tower blocks now full of sublet third world pretext visa migrant guestworkers ?

    Personally I think all ‘international students’ (560,000) & non nz born on a NZ special category backdoor visa (330,000 of 650,000) & 457/8 (160,000) & long stay illegally working tourist visa holders (400,000) – say 1.5 million third world migrants here on some visa pretext to work illegally – those 1.5 million ‘guests’ should have their visa conditions changed to be location bound & quarantined to a fenced off South Australia & also Tasmania.

    It would be a case study of the true economic & social impact of our totally corrupted temporary visa program.

  14. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    It’s scary that it’s so shocking to hear a politician (who is in power) actually saying something that resembles reality. So we’ve had a little bit of that from McGowan in WA and Weatherwill in SA and… that’s about it.

    • adelaide_economist I’ve always suspected you either work for a university or you’re a rogue public servant. What are your thoughts on what needs to be done from a policy perspective, state and/or federal, to make SA great (pun intended) in the medium to long term?