Experts slam Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy


By Leith van Onselen

In the wake of last week’s population data from the ABS, which showed immigration into NSW and VIC hitting an all-time high 185,500 (combined) in the year to June:

And confirmed that Australia’s population is growing faster than almost every other developed nation:


Several experts (including yours truly) have lambasted Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy for the destructive impact it is having on living standards in the major cities. From’s Frank Chung:

ENTREPRENEUR Dick Smith says it is “not accidental” that immigration skyrocketed by 27 per cent last year, accusing Australian politicians of cooking the books to keep economic growth figures artificially high…

“It’s just an absolute disaster for our children and grandchildren,” said Mr Smith… “It will destroy Australia as we know it today….

While mass immigration boosts the overall GDP figure and makes politicians “look as if they are doing well”, we “don’t have growth per capita”. “There’s no doubt, it’s not accidental,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re in complete control of our immigration rate. With an economic system that requires perpetual growth, this is the way of getting it. The only other way is hard work, getting better productivity”…

Mr Smith said while the Liberals were scared of property developers like Meriton’s Harry Triguboff, Labor refused to discuss immigration for fear of offending the ethnic community.

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “The ethnic people who come here don’t want Australia destroyed…

Leith van Onselen, chief economist with Macrobusiness, said successive governments were running mass immigration programs to keep growth artificially high and as “defacto housing support” to keep the housing bubbles in NSW and Victoria alive.

“Sydney and Melbourne combined added just over 185,000 migrants in one year,” he said. “Three-quarters of Australia’s immigration intake going into two biggest, most overcrowded and unaffordable cities is not a good thing.”

Sydney in particular is facing a “bizarre situation” where residents were being displaced by new migrants. “Residents are leaving at quite a fast rate and the birthrate has actually fallen quite significantly,” Mr Onselen said.

“NSW added almost 100,000 migrants, but 14,000 residents left in the year and also the natural increase has fallen quite sharply. All these extra people are forcing people out and making it more expensive to have kids.

“It’s a pretty socially regressive situation where young people are forced to move from where they grew up and where all their family and friends are, just because the government wants to run a Big Australia policy.”

Dr Jane O’Sullivan, honorary senior research fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, said Australia was effectively “running to stand still” to keep pace with the infrastructure needed to accommodate new arrivals.

“It costs more than $100,000 in public money per person that we add to our population,” she said…

“So if we’re growing at 1.6 per cent, we’re spending more than 10 per cent of GDP just running in order to stand still, not improving the level of service we’re able to provide people, simply keeping up with the number of hospital beds and school classes to keep things at a level standard.

“To a large extent we are not keeping pace, we’re actually falling behind, so the quality of life people are enjoying is going backwards.”

Dr O’Sullivan said the “usual rejoinder” was that governments had failed to spend adequately on infrastructure, but the numbers didn’t bear that out.

“They have more than increased their spending in proportion to population growth, it’s just becoming increasingly expensive as our megacities cities become bigger and denser,” she said.

“The cost of every extra person becomes more expensive because suddenly you have to build road tunnels, high-rises, refit increased sewerage capacity.

“People think Australia has a small population, but out cities are huge by developed country standards. They’re way past economies of scale, to [arguably] diseconomies of scale.”

Well written Frank Chung – one of the few journalists willing to confront head-on this vitally important issue.


It’s a crying shame our delinquent Lib/Lab/Greens politicians won’t do likewise. Complete fakes, the lot of them.

[email protected]

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.