Memo to Grattan Institute on mass immigration’s “benefits”

By Leith van Onselen

Yesterday, I praised the Grattan Institute’s detailed new report entitled Housing affordability: re-imagining the Australian dream, which lays-out a sensible blueprint for housing reform across Australia.

In particular, I commended the Grattan Institute for finally acknowledging the damage that mass immigration is doing to Australia’s housing market, as well as them recommending cutting immigration in the likely event that our governments continue to fail to plan adequately for the population influx.

While my praise of the Grattan Institute’s report still holds, it did pen a spurious article in The Conversation yesterday claiming that while cutting immigration would reduce housing pressures, it would also make ordinary Australians worse-off in other ways, including by lowering their income:

If we want to maintain current migration levels, along with their economic, social and budgetary benefits, we need to do better at planning to allow more housing to be built…

If planning and infrastructure policies don’t improve, the government should consider cutting the migration intake. This would reduce demand for housing, but would also reduce the incomes of existing residents…

The best policy is probably to continue with Australia’s demand-driven, relatively high-skill migration and to build enough homes for the growing population. But Australia is in a world of third-best policy: rapid migration and restricted housing supply are imposing big costs on people who don’t already own their homes. If the states are not going to reform planning rules to increase the number of homes built, then the Australian government should consider whether reducing migration is the lesser evil.

Any reduction should be modest and targeted at the parts of the migration program that provide the smallest benefit to Australian residents and migrants themselves. Balancing these interests is difficult, because each part of the program has different economic, social and budgetary costs and benefits.

Cutting back family reunion visas would have substantial social costs. Limiting skilled migration would hurt the economy and many businesses. Restricting growth in international students would reduce universities’ incomes.

There are also broader costs to cutting the migrant intake. It would hit the Commonwealth budget in the short term. Most migrants are of working age and pay full rates of personal income tax. And many temporary migrants, such as 457 visa holders, can’t draw on a range of government services and benefits, including welfare and Medicare. More importantly, cutting back on younger, skilled migrants is likely to hurt the budget and the economy in the long term.

Grattan made similar claims in The Guardian:

John Daley from the Grattan Institute told Guardian Australia he was very conscious of the politics surrounding population growth and he did not want to be seen to be calling for the migrant intake to be cut…

But he said the Grattan Institute also believed state governments were struggling to deal with rapid population growth in their major cities and the quality of life of residents – represented by the rapid growth in house prices in recent decades – was suffering…

“Reducing immigration would reduce demand but it would also reduce economic growth per existing resident [so] first-best policy is probably to continue with Australia’s demand-driven, relatively high-skill migration, and to increase supply of housing accordingly.

Below is a ‘fact check’ on Grattan’s claims about the supposed ‘benefits’ of mass immigration and the claimed deleterious impacts on existing residents if immigration was lowered.

Economic impacts on existing residents:

First, Grattan’s claim that cutting immigration would “reduce the incomes of existing residents” and would “reduce economic growth per existing resident” is misleading and largely debunked by the Productivity Commission’s (PC) various modelling.

The PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, released in September 2016, compared the impact on real GDP per capita from:

  • Historical rates of immigration, whereby population hits 40 million by 2060; and
  • Zero net overseas migration (NOM), whereby the population stabilises at 27 million by 2060.

The PC’s modelling did find that GDP per capita would be 7% ($7,000) higher by 2060 under current mass immigration settings. However, all of the gains are transitory and come from a temporary lift in the employment-to-population ratio, which will eventually reverse once the migrants age (i.e. after the forecast period):

The continuation of an immigration system oriented towards younger working-age people can boost the proportion of the population in the workforce and, thereby, provide a ‘demographic dividend’ to the Australian economy. However, this demographic dividend comes with a larger population and over time permanent immigrants will themselves age and add to the proportion of the population aged over 65 years.

The PC also explicitly acknowledges that per capita GDP is a “weak” measure of economic welfare:

While the economywide modelling suggests that the Australian economy will benefit from immigration in terms of higher output per person, GDP per person is a weak measure of the overall wellbeing of the Australian community and does not capture how gains would be distributed among the community. Whether a particular rate of immigration will deliver an overall benefit to the existing Australian community will crucially depend on the distribution of the gains and the interrelated social and environmental impacts.

It is worth pointing out that the PC’s modelling unrealistically assumed that Australia’s infrastructure stock would keep pace with the extra population, which is vital if economy-wide productivity is not to dimish and for the PC’s GDP per capita forecasts to come to fruition:

Specifically, the expansion in labour supply through migration is projected to lead roughly to the same proportional growth in capital and output in most industries including infrastructure industries. That is, the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production…

As the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production, the economy-wide modelling results are broadly linear. Hence, while the modelling provides insight into the economic impact of NOM, in practice limits on Australia’s absorptive capacity (including environmental factors) mean that constant returns to scale are unlikely to hold for very high rates of immigration.

Clearly, this assumption is at at odds with the Australian economy’s actual experience, whereby massive infrastructure deficits have accumulated over the last 15-years of hyper immigration, particularly in the major cities.

Most importantly for incumbent Australian workers, the PC’s 2016 modelling found that labour productivity and real wages are projected to decrease under current mass immigration settings versus zero net overseas migration (NOM):

Compared to the business-as-usual case, labour productivity is projected to be higher under the hypothetical zero NOM case — by around 2 per cent by 2060 (figure 10.5, panel b). The higher labour productivity is reflected in higher real wage receipts by the workforce in the zero NOM case…

With zero NOM, real wages are projected to increase over time, and at a rate greater than in the business-as-usual scenario. That is, in the zero NOM scenario labour is relatively scarce which puts upwards pressure on real wages and causes a substitution towards capital, contributing to the marginally higher labour productivity relative to the business-as-usual scenario (figure 10.5, panel b). Higher rates of labour force participation through immigration in the business-as-usual case is projected to moderate such wage pressures.
ScreenHunter_14902 Sep. 12 16.24

Therefore, according to the PC’s most recent modelling, high immigration improves per capita GDP by 2060 by boosting the proportion of workers in the economy, but this comes at the expense of lower labour productivity and lower real wages.

Moreover, beyond the forecast period (2060), the migrants will age and retire, thus dragging down future growth – classic ‘ponzi demography’.

As noted by the PC above, its latest modelling also did not take account of the distribution of gains to per capita GDP, which is vitally important. Thankfully, it’s 2006 major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth did, and the results were unflattering for existing residents.

Here, the PC modeled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25 and found that “the incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case”. Below is the money quote:

The increase in labour supply causes the labour / capita ratio to rise and the terms of trade to fall. This generates a negative deviation in the average real wage. By 2025 the deviation in the real wage is –1.7 per cent…

Broadly, incumbent workers lose from the policy, while incumbent capital owners gain. At a 5 per cent discount rate, the net present value of per capita incumbent wage income losses over the period 2005 – 2025 is $1,775. The net present value of per capita incumbent capital income gains is $1,953 per capita…

Owners of capital in the sectors experiencing the largest output gains will, in general, experience the largest gains in capital income. Also, the distribution of capital income is quite concentrated: the capital owned by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the Australian population represents approximately 45 per cent of all household net wealth…

Of course, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report also went to great lengths to stress that there are many costs associated with running a high immigration program that are not captured in the modelling but are borne by incumbent residents and unambiguously lowers their welfare. These include rising congestion, smaller and more expensive housing, environmental degradation, and more expensive infrastructure. For example, with respect to infrastructure, the PC noted:

…where assets are close to capacity, congestion imposes costs on all users. A larger population inevitably requires more investment in infrastructure, and who pays for this will depend on how this investment is funded (by users or by taxpayers). Physical constraints in major cities make the costs of expanding infrastructure more expensive, so even if a user-pays model is adopted, a higher population is very likely to impose a higher cost of living for people already residing in these major cities.

Accordingly, the PC explicitly asks that these costs be considered as part of any cost-benefit analysis on the immigration intake, rather than blindly following the results of its modelling, which is inherently limited and a poor measure of ‘wellbeing’.

Budgetary impacts:

Grattan’s claim that cutting immigration would adversely impact the federal Budget is myopic as it:

  1. ignores the negative impact on State Budgets, which carry the cost of infrastructure and services to support population growth (think roads, public transport, schools and hospitals); and
  2. ignores the cost on households, who have to pay more as new expensive infrastructure projects are built in response to population growth (e.g. desalination plants, toll road tunnels, etc), as well as pay more as states sell-off public assets to private monopolies to raise funds for new infrastructure.

Indeed, the Grattan Institute’s own analysis in 2014 showed that “unprecedented infrastructure spending by states and territories” since the escalation of population growth from 2004 is “largely responsible for a $106 billion decline in their finances since 2006“, and that “after a threefold increase in capital spending over the last 10 years, states are paying 3 per cent more of their revenues in interest and depreciation”.

Grattan also implicitly acknowledged the huge costs of mass immigration on state budgets in The Guardian article above:

[Daley] said the Grattan Institute also believed state governments were struggling to deal with rapid population growth in their major cities and the quality of life of residents – represented by the rapid growth in house prices in recent decades – was suffering.

Migration program is not that ‘skilled’ after all:

The claim that Australia’s migration program is ‘skilled’ and that migrants pay heaps of tax is also highly debatable.

A recent major survey from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre found that 53% of skilled migrants in Western Australia said they are working in lower skilled jobs than before they arrived, with underemployment also rife:

So Australia has effectively stolen ‘skilled’ workers from developing nations – where they are needed most – so they can work in lesser jobs in Australia!

This Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre survey also accords with research conducted in 2013 by Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy, which found that while 69.3% of Australian graduates aged 25-34 had managerial or professional work in 2011 and only 9.5% were not employed, only 30.9% of non-English-speaking-background [NESB] migrants who were graduates of the same age, who had arrived between 2006 and 2011, had managerial or professional work. And a full 31.1% were not employed. Most of this group of graduate arrivals (79%) were of NESB background:

These reports help to explain why the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) latest Characteristics of Recent Migrants report, released in June, revealed that migrants have generally worse labour market outcomes than the Australian born population, with recent migrants and temporary residents having an unemployment rate of 7.4% versus 5.4% for the Australian born population, and lower labour force participation (69.8%) than the Australian born population (70.2%):

The PC’s recent Migrant Intake Australia report also stated that around half of the skilled steam includes the family members of skilled migrants, thereby around 70% of Australia’s total permanent migrant intake is not actually ‘skilled’:

…within the skill stream, about half of the visas granted were for ‘secondary applicants’ — partners (who may or may not be skilled) and dependent children… Therefore, while the skill stream has increased relative to the family stream, family immigrants from the skill and family stream still make up about 70 per cent of the Migration Programme (figure 2.8)…

Primary applicants tend to have a better fiscal outcome than secondary applicants — the current system does not consider the age or skills of secondary applicants as part of the criteria for granting permanent skill visas…

The PC also showed that while primary skilled migrants have marginally better labour market outcomes than the Australian born population in terms of median incomes, labour force participation, and unemployment rates, secondary skilled visas, and indeed all other forms of migrants, have  worse outcomes:

Negative impacts on universities is over-blown:

Grattan’s claim that cutting immigration would adversely affect universities is over-blown. Cutting the permanent migrant intake (see next chart) – as recommended by MB and Tony Abbott – would not directly impact the number of temporary student visas issued, only the number of foreign students that are eventually granted permanent residency.

Are foreign students coming to Australia to gain an education or as a back-door to permanent residency? And is Australia selling “education” exports or “permanent residency” exports? If it is the former – as it should be – then there is nothing to fear from cutting the permanent migrant intake.

Exactly the same arguments apply for temporary ‘skilled’ visas. The numbers issued won’t be directly impacted by a reduction in the permanent migrant intake.

Broader economic impacts not acknowledged by Grattan:

There is strong evidence to suggest that mass immigration is partly behind Australia’s trade and current account deficits, as well as the nation’s ballooning foreign debt.

The lion’s share of Australia’s export revenue comes from commodities and from Western Australia and Queensland in particular:

However, the majority of Australia’s imports and indeed private debt flows to our biggest states (and cities), New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne). Sydney and Melbourne also happen to be the key magnets for migrants – a point acknowledged by the Grattan Institute.

Clearly, increasing the number of people via mass immigration does not materially boost Australia’s exports but does significantly increase imports (think flat screen TVs, imported cars, etc.). One only needs to look at both New South Wales and Victoria, which have driven huge trade deficits as the extra imports have far outweighed exports (Chart 15):

All of these extra imports must be paid for – either by accumulating foreign debt, or by selling-off the nation’s assets. Australia has been doing both.

Australia would improve its trade balance and current account deficit, as well as reduce the need to sell-off assets and binge on debt, if it simply reduced immigration.

Australia would still ship the same amount of hard commodities and agriculture regardless of how many people are coming in as all the productive capacity has been set up and it doesn’t require more labour. However, we would import far less.

Essentially, by running a mass immigration program, Australia is diluting its fixed mineral wealth among more people, which necessarily lowers residents’ welfare.

Area of agreement: Australia needs an explicit population policy:

Like MB, Grattan believes that Australia needs an explicit population policy aimed at maximising the welfare of the existing population:

The Australian government should develop a population policy, as the Productivity Commission recommended. It should articulate the appropriate level of migration given its economic, budgetary and social benefits and costs. This should include how it affects the Australian community living with the reality of land use planning policy – and contrasting this with the effect of optimal planning policy.

Indeed, the PC explicitly called for greater democracy in setting Australia’s immigration policy in its Migrant Intake Australia report:

…decisions on the migrant intake should be part of a transparent population policy based on well – informed engagement with the Australian community so that the policy reflects the preferences of the broader community as well as businesses.

…businesses who benefit from the increased supply of labour and, with this, demand for their goods and services, and [the incentives of] members of the community, as reflected in the large number of submissions raising concerns about house prices, congestion, and other environmental impacts. Even if all of the concerns raised are not proven, these views do need to be taken into account in setting the migrant intake…

Australia’s system of parliamentary democracy has an in-built predisposition towards ‘hearing’ from certain stakeholders (who typically have a vested interest and are well organised). In contrast, members of parliament are less likely to ‘hear’ from affected constituents for whom the effect of a policy change is individually small, but is large when added up over many constituents…

However, I believe the government should go one step further and hold a plebiscite on Australia’s future population so that the Australia people can decide how ‘big’ Australia becomes, and whether they want to live like sardines in crowded cities. It’s the democratic thing to do, so let’s give Australians their say.

Below is MB’s submission to the federal government’s Migrant Intake Review, which the Grattan Institute would do well to read.


February 2018


Submission to the Department of Home Affairs’ Managing Australia’s Migrant Intake Review


At MacroBusiness we support immigration, but at sustainable levels.

Australia’s immigration levels are too high – higher than our cities can absorb. The infrastructure costs of high immigration are excessive and Australia’s infrastructure supply is not keeping up with demand, despite our best efforts.

The economic arguments frequently used to justify high immigration fail the evidence test. Empirical data does not support mass immigration. Excessive immigration also damages Australia’s employment market and the environment.

It is time for an honest debate.

Currently, Australia’s immigration program is overloading the major cities with tens of thousands of extra people each year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person) and to support business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), despite growth per person stagnating.

Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads and water), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.

The economic evidence for the above is contained in this submission.

The Australian Government needs to stop ignoring these issues. Australia’s living standards are at stake.

MacroBusiness urges the Australian Government to reduce Australia’s immigration intake back towards the historical average of around 70,000 people per annum.

1. Australia’s immigration program is unprecedented:

One of the most profound changes affecting the Australian economy and society this century has been the massive lift in Australia’s net immigration, which surged from the early-2000s and is running at roughly triple the pace of historical norms (Chart 1).

In the 116 years following Australia’s Federation in 1901, Australia’s net overseas migration (NOM) averaged around 73,000 people a year and Australia’s population grew on average by around 180,000 people.

Over the past 12 years, however, Australia’s annual NOM has averaged nearly 220,000 people a year and Australia’s population has grown on average by 370,000 people.

The principal driver of Australia’s population increase has been the Australian Government’s permanent migrant intake, which has increased from 79,000 in 1999 to nearly 210,000 currently, including the humanitarian intake (Chart 2).

Due to this mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, Australia’s population has expanded at a rate that is more than 2.5 times the OECD average, easily the fastest of advanced English-speaking nations (Chart 3).

This rapid population growth is expected to continue for decades to come, with the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report projecting population growth of nearly 400,000 people a year – equivalent to one Canberra – until Australia’s population reaches 40 million mid-century (see Chart 1 above).

However, the problem with Australia’s mass immigration policy is not just the extreme volume, but also the concentration of migrants flowing to Australia’s largest and already most overcrowded cities.

As shown in Chart 4, around three quarters of Australia’s NOM has flowed to New South Wales and Victoria, principally Sydney and Melbourne:

In the 12 years to 2016, Melbourne’s population expanded by nearly 1.1 million (30%), while Sydney’s population expanded by 845,000 (20%). There was also strong growth in Brisbane (537,000) and Perth (502,000) (Charts 5 and 6).

The migrant influx helps to explain why dwelling price growth has been strongest in Sydney and Melbourne, and why housing is most unaffordable in these two cities (Charts 7 and 8). While the Australian Government and property lobby likes to blame a ‘lack of supply’, the problem rests primarily with excessive demand from mass immigration.

The chronic problems around housing and infrastructure will only get worse under the current mass immigration policy.

State Government projections have Melbourne’s population expanding by 97,000 people each year (1,870 people a week) and Sydney’s by 87,000 people each year (1,670 people each week) for the next several decades until both cities’ populations hit around 8 million people mid-century.

To put this population growth into perspective, consider the following facts:

  • It took Sydney around 210 years to reach a population of 3.9 million in 2001. And yet the official projections have Sydney adding roughly the same number of people again in just 50 years.
  • It took Melbourne nearly 170 years to reach a population of 3.3 million in 2001. In just 15 years, Melbourne expanded by 34% to 4.5 million people. And the official projections have Melbourne’s population ballooning by another 3.4 million people in just 35 years.

No matter which way you cut it, residents of our two largest cities will continue to feel the impact of this rapid population growth via: traffic gridlock; overloaded public transport, schools, and hospitals; pressures on energy and water supplies; as well as more expensive (and smaller) housing.
It is a clear recipe for lower living standards.

2. No economic bonanza:

Politicians and economists frequently claim that maintaining a ‘strong’ immigration program is essential as it keeps the population young and productive, and without constant immigration, the population would grow old and the economy would stagnate.

For example, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stated previously that “anyone who thinks it’s smart to cut immigration is sentencing Australia to poverty”. In a similar vein, former KPMG partner and “unabashed supporter of a bigger Australia”, Bernard Salt, has produced reams of articles warning that Australia faces economic and fiscal catastrophe without ongoing strong immigration.

Economic models are often cited as proof that a strong immigration program is ‘good’ for the economy because they show that real GDP per capita is moderately increased via immigration, based on several dubious assumptions.

First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is just as likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.

Even if this assumption was true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.

Indeed, the Productivity Commission (PC) has for more than a decade debunked the myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. For example, in its 2010 submission to the Minister for Population, the PC explicitly noted that “substantial increases in the level of net overseas migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age”.

Academic demographer, Peter McDonald, has also previously stated that it is “demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young” .

Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).

Third, economists and their models generally ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.

Moreover, the cost of retro-fitting our big cities with infrastructure to cope with larger populations is necessarily very expensive – think tunnelling and land acquisitions – with costs borne largely by the incumbent population. This fact was explicitly acknowledged by the PC’s recent Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review:

“Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels)” .

Finally, while economic models tend to show a modest improvement in real GDP per capita, the gains are more likely to flow to the wealthy, whereas ordinary workers are made worse-off.

In 2006, the PC completed a major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth, which modelled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25. The modelling found that even skilled migration does not increase the incomes of existing residents. According to the Commission: “the distribution of these benefits [from skilled migration] varies across the population, with gains mostly accrued to the skilled migrants and capital owners. The incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case” .

Of course, there are other costs borne by incumbent residents from immigration that are not captured in the economic modelling, such as worsening congestion, increased infrastructure costs, reduced housing affordability, and environmental degradation – none of which are given appropriate consideration by politicians nor economists.

Adding a Canberra-worth of population to Australia each and every year – with 80,000 to 100,000-plus people going to Sydney and Melbourne – requires an incredible amount of investment just to keep up. Accordingly, Australia’s infrastructure deficit has fallen badly behind over the past decade, and will continue to do so under Australia’s mass immigration program, thus eroding residents’ living standards.

3. Empirical data does not support mass immigration:

While the economic models might show small per capita gains from immigration-fuelled population growth, based on faulty assumptions, the actual empirical evidence shows no link between population growth and prosperity.

Since Australia’s immigration intake was expanded in the early-2000s, trend GDP per capita growth has plummeted to recessionary levels, suggesting falling living standards (Chart 9).

Chart 10 plots the growth in GDP per capita versus population change between 2000 and 2016 across OECD nations and shows no correlation (Australia denoted in red):

Meanwhile, there is a slight negative relationship between labour productivity and population growth (Chart 11):

Whereas there is zero correlation between population growth and multifactor productivity across OECD nations:

A recent study by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also found “that even when we control for initial GDP per capita, initial demographic composition and differential trends by region, there is no evidence of a negative relationship between aging and GDP per capita; on the contrary, the relationship is significantly positive in many specifications” (Chart 13).

There is also evidence to suggest that mass immigration is partly behind Australia’s trade and current account deficits, as well as the nation’s ballooning foreign debt.

The lion’s share of Australia’s export revenue comes from commodities and from Western Australia and Queensland in particular (Chart 14):

However, the majority of Australia’s imports and indeed private debt flows to our biggest states (and cities), New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne). Sydney and Melbourne also happen to be the key magnets for migrants (see Charts 4,5 and 6 above).

Increasing the number of people via mass immigration does not materially boost Australia’s exports but does significantly increase imports (think flat screen TVs, imported cars, etc.). Accordingly, both New South Wales and Victoria have driven huge trade deficits as the extra imports have far outweighed exports (Chart 15):

All of these extra imports must be paid for – either by accumulating foreign debt, or by selling-off the nation’s assets. Australia has been doing both.

Australia would improve its trade balance and current account deficit, as well as reduce the need to sell-off assets and binge on debt, if it simply cut immigration.

Australia will ship the same amount of hard commodities and agriculture regardless of how many people are coming in as all the productive capacity has been set up and it doesn’t require more labour.

4. Lowering immigration would raise wages:

Hand wringing over Australia’s anaemic wages growth (Chart 16) hit fever pitch recently, with politicians, economists and media all searching for answers.

One cause that has received scant attention is the role caused by mass immigration in driving-up labour supply and reducing the bargaining power of workers.

Employer groups often argue that a strong ‘skilled’ migration program is required to overcome perceived labour shortages – a view that is supported by the Australian Government. However, the available data shows this argument to be weak.

The Department of Employment’s 2016-17 Skills Shortages report revealed that Australian skills shortages “continue to be limited in 2016-17”, and that there are a high number of applicants per job (Chart 17):

The Department of Employment also revealed a record number of Australians studying at university (Chart 18):

Of whom many graduates cannot gain meaningful employment (Chart 19):

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ labour force data also shows that Australia’s underutilisation rate remains high, especially for Australia’s youth, despite the recent improvement in the labour market (Chart 20).

Curiously, Australia’s permanent skilled migrant intake is significantly higher today (128,550) than it was at the peak of the mining boom in 2011 (113,850). Why? Unlike then, labour shortages are “limited”, wages growth is running near the lowest level on record, and labour underutilisation is high. What is the economic rationale for running the highest permanent migrant intake on record when economic conditions do not warrant it?

Standard economic theory claims that net inward migration has minimal long-term impact on wages. That is, when the quantity of labour increases, its price (wages) falls. This will supposedly increase profits, eventually leading to more investment, increased demand for labour, and a reversal of the initial fall in wages. Immigration, so the theory goes, will enable the larger domestic population to enjoy the same incomes as the smaller population did before.

However, a recent study by Cambridge University economist, Robert Rowthorn, debunked this argument. The so-called ‘temporary’ effects of displacing incumbent workers and lower wages can last for up to ten years. And if there is a continuing influx of migrants – as is the case in Australia – rather than a one-off increase in the size of the labour force, demand for labour will constantly lag behind growth in supply .

In other words, if the Australian Government was to stem the inflow of foreign workers, then workers’ bargaining power would increase, as will wages growth. It is basic economics.

As noted in April last year by The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, the very purpose of foreign worker visas is to “suppress wage growth by allowing employers to recruit from a global pool of labour to compete with Australian workers”. In a normal functioning labour market, “when demand for workers rises, employers would need to bid against each other for the available scarce talent”. But this mechanism has been bypassed by enabling employers to recruit labour globally. “It is only in recent years that the wage rises that accompany the normal functioning of the labour market have been rebranded as a ‘skills shortage'” .

Australia’s youth is effectively caught in a pincer by the Australian Government’s mass immigration program. Not only does it hold down their wages, but it also inflates their cost-of-living via more expensive housing (both prices and rents).

5. It’s time for a national debate and population policy:

The Australian Government under both the Coalition and Labor has long supported mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’ on flawed economic grounds.

Behind the scenes, the ‘growth lobby’ of retailers, the banking sector, the property industry and erroneously named ‘think tanks’ all push the growth-ist agenda, while completely ignoring the cost burden on ordinary residents.

At the same time, many on the left pursue the globalist agenda of ‘open borders’ citing spurious social justice concerns.

Currently, there is no coherent plan other than to inundate the major cities with extra people each and every year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person), to support big business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), and to prevent Australia from going into recession (despite growth per person stagnating).

Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads, water and energy), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.

Never have Australians been asked whether they want a population of 40 million-plus mid-century. Nor whether they want Sydney’s and Melbourne’s populations to swell to eight million mid-century.

Yet immigration and population growth affects every facet of Australian life, including: how long one spends stuck in traffic; whether one can get a seat on a train or a spot in hospital or school; and/or whether one can afford a good sized home within a decent commute to where one works. It is a key determinant of living standards above all else, yet is rarely questioned by the media nor politicians.

Without mainstream political representation on this issue, divisive elements like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party have emerged to wrongly use the ills of overpopulation to attack the small number of refugees arriving in Australia, as well as Muslim and Asian immigration.

As this submission has shown, there is strong justification to reduce Australia’s permanent migrant intake back to historical levels primarily by slashing skilled migration, which has been the driver of the influx. This would take the strain off the major cities, put a floor under wages growth, and safeguard Australia’s environment.

Australia could achieve such immigration cuts without affecting its global obligations via the humanitarian migrant intake. Indeed, much of Australia’s 130,000 strong permanent skilled migrant intake comes from countries where skills are more desperately needed than in Australia. Australia’s immigration program is depriving these countries of skills, and we have a moral obligation to limit the brain drain.

More broadly, Australia desperately needs a national debate and a population strategy, led by the Australian Government. The Government needs to conduct a population plebiscite asking Australians how big they want the nation to become, and then set immigration policy accordingly. The Australian Government also needs to provide a comprehensive plan detailing how and where it will accommodate all the extra people, while safeguarding incumbent residents’ living standards.

Leith van Onselen


  1. ceteris paribus

    Yes, I think we do need more discussion and a plebiscite on immigration targets, plans and approaches into the future- mainly because discussion has been previously repressed, vested interests appear to have covert and disprortionate influence and the nation needs to be consulted about its destiny (in terms of the axiom demographics are destiny). I am confident we can manage this discussion as a mature nation and generally ignore the racist dickheads in the process.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      I cause much consternation, at the ALP branch meetings I attend, by repeatedly bring up this issue.
      I still have to repeatedly state that I support multiculturalism and diversity, which I do,…but I also think intergration and assimilation into an evolving Australian identity is also desirable and put forward that view also.
      What annoys me, is the way the conversation is filled with trepidation, as though the conservation itself, is Racist.
      I like to point out that many of my New Australian clients express dismay at the current high intake. The defenders of the high intake often reply that such people are racist themselves, wanting to close the door behind them, once they have “gotten in”.
      The best way to get away from this drivel I find, is to ask people what they think the number should be?
      Do they know what the intake currently is? (Mostly they don’t)
      Who do they think should decide what the yearly intake is?
      Should the number be decided privately between Government and Big business behind closed doors?
      Shouldn’t the Citizens of Australia have a say on the matter?,…we got to have a say on Gay Marriage.
      I think a Number has to be stated to move the conversation forward,…I always advocate for a reduction to 100-110k per year, a halving of the number, with a doubling of the refugee intake within that number,….and see what happens.
      Comments of a crashed economy always follow.
      But I see many heads nodding for a reduction.

      People need to join the established Parties (not just mine) and demand Democratic membership participation in the decisions and policies made by these parties.
      Throw a sneaky vote to SAP on election day to reinforce the message if you must,..but join one of the parties that actually rule,…and fight a genuine Democratic battle within.
      The leadership of the main parties, beguiled and corrupted by Neoliberalsim and post modernist identity politics, Fear this more, than they fear voter chastisement on election day.
      The pathway to real democracy starts with turning up and participating.

      • While I generally agree with your sentiments we need to get away from this “diversity” and “multiculturalism” bs. They are literally just code words for anti-white which is also just post modernist wank. Multi racialism is fine but multiculturalism is just destruction of western culture with manners.

      • “I like to point out that many of my New Australian clients express dismay at the current high intake. The defenders of the high intake often reply that such people are racist themselves, wanting to close the door behind them, once they have “gotten in”.

        Urghhh 🤦‍♀️. If a lifeboat built to hold one hundred people is packed with two hundred and fifty people and listing wildly ya don’t let any more on board or everyone will drown alike.

      • Good points, Ermington. The biggest hurdle is to let people know it’s ok to be able to talk about immigration numbers without the R word rearing its ugly head. UE does a great job but it’s still a taboo subject for most and I am going to admit right now – there is a large number of immigrants at my work, and I don’t dare bring up this topic.

      • …I always advocate for a reduction to 100-110k per year, a halving of the number, with a doubling of the refugee intake within that number,….and see what happens.

        Still far too high .. and what’s this doubling of the refugee intake virtue signalling garbage.

        MB has got the permanent number of 70,000 about right ( pleased to see they have dropped the <100,000 figure) .
        The refugee resettlement program should be abandoned, it's just virtue signalling warm fuzzy stuff.
        Refugee resettlement program is purely a voluntary action, there is no obligation on Refugee Convention signatories to bring refugees from camps and resettle them.

        From the Herald Sun;
        "…That money we are spending on refugees brought here would actually help at least six times more refugees if spent on people in the camps around Syria – not 12,000 people but 75,000. Redirecting that aid to refugees in camps would also lower our security threat and leave refugees where they are more likely to return home when safe. Moreover, more funding might stop the invasion of Europe by refugees – an invasion that threatens European nations with massive unrest and a dangerous reaction from the far Right. The maths says: help refugees where they are, not here."

        * the 12,000 is the one off intake of Syrian refugees we are resettling here on top of the usual 14,000 we take annually, rising to 19,000 this year.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        So way less than 10% of the current permanent intake then.
        An even smaller percentage of the over all numbers, when including all the temporary visa classes.
        Nearly half of my mates parents were WW2 reffos from southern Europe and my mates are as Aussie as anybody!
        A lot of them, like me, would rather see Refugees represent a higher percentage of the immigrant intake and replacing a lot of the wealth immigration that is pricing our children out of home ownership. I’ve heard these concerns over wealth immigration from freinds and customers of ALL ethnic backgrounds.
        End of the day,…in a Democracy, pragmatic compromises have to be made between people who would rather an enlarged humanitarian intake over those who would rather the business friendly wealth and “Skills” immigrants.
        Advocating for reffos,…is not just “Virtue signalling” pal,…it is paying respect to millions of Australians who have a similar ancestral history.

        Whatever your preference,…let’s not let that get in the way of dramatically reducing a Number that is way to large for our Country.

      • EP
        You make some of the same trite argument all the progressive left apologists make for the refugee resettlement program
        Because we settled refugees from Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavia and it worked out well eventually, so we should encourage, even double the refugee intake.
        What is never mentioned when comparing today’s program with the WWII refugee intake, is the southern Europeans were caucasian, christian and culturally similar or the same, so there was never gonna be any real assimilation problems.
        Of course, the progressive left ideology is not really about refugees per se, it’s about changing Australia’s identity, the make up of the population – a multicultural/racial melting pot where there is no defined race or culture.

        A refugee resettlement program of Africans, Asians and Arabs that’s increasing by 36% to 18,750 places this year certainly helps this process and will be 9% of the total permanent program, so hardly, “way less than 10% of the permanent program”, or a rounding error as your fellow refugee apologist drsmithy likes to refer to them.

        The immigration program is supposed to be run for the benefit of the Australian people – not the elites. like big business, social engineers, politicians and ethnic groups.
        Sadly today’s immigration program (permanent and temporary) ignores the people because it perfectly fits the agenda of the elites.

    • QandA and four corner doing a thing on immigration next week. LVO did you get an invite to the gig?

    • FiftiesFibroShack

      The way to reduce the power of vested interests is demand reform to lobbying laws. The current laws/rules (Ministerial Code of Conduct, Lobbying Code of Conduct) are a pathetic. We also desperately need a Federal anti-corruption entity.

      There are plenty of areas that need to be addressed, but those two reforms would go a long way.

  2. pay full rates of personal income tax.

    Serious? Are foreigners exempt from the income tax free threshold? I doubt it.

    And what does “full rate” mean? Foreigners should be required to pay a flat rate of income tax – say, at least 30%.

    If mass low-wage immigration is fantastic, why is just about every nation on the planet less than 28% foreign born?

    • SchillersMEMBER

      % of population foreign born:

      U.K. 13.9%
      Norway 16.8%
      Belgium 15.5%
      Netherlands 11.1%
      Ireland 16.4%
      Germany 14%
      Italy 9.5%
      Spain 13.4%
      France 12.0%
      Finland 5.6%
      Denmark 8.5%
      New Zealand 20%

      Australia 29% (7.2million). And rising rapidly.

  3. So in order to prevent a recession in this country, both ultra high immigration programme and ultra high house prices must be maintained.. makes one wonder why other countries can manage without having to have this requirement but we can’t.

    • The Horrible Scott Morrison MP

      Because their people aren’t as thick and lazy. Not even the Americans.

      • lol. Exactly. We have to populate because we’re too dumb to function. The dumbest, laziest people on earth will be bred out in Australia.

        If your kids or grandkids aren’t top of the tree, and or mega rich, we’re voting to give them a life of subordinate misery.

    • Inheritors of an invasion that delivered a continent …. what would you expect? The amazing thing to me is that the US is so different. Possibly it’s the example of what happens when the impulse to dominance doesn’t get turned off.

  4. There would be a “perfect world” where policy settings were the right ones to make a combination of high immigration and high investment (in infrastructure and productive capital) the “first best” option. It would involve tough vetting of immigrants to ensure only the best quality ones came; low-skilled jobs NOT to be filled by migrants (so as to avoid suppressing income levels for the already-poorest); and it would redirect investment flows away from zero-sum urban dirt Ponzi into infrastructure and productive capital.

    One of the most sickening ironies about the status quo is that it is politically unpalatable to “fund new infrastructure investment” especially for greenfields new cities, and yet even greater sums of aggregate debt will have to have been assumed in the form of mortgages within the next couple of generations. And that aggregate debt will have been “for NOTHING”. We could have had that debt “for actual infrastructure” – road capacity, services, not to mention schools and hospitals, etc etc – but we will end up with the debt in a nastier form, and with nothing to show for it, and dire infrastructure deficits forever. Not only will the urban dirt be inflated in “value” for nothing, but it is entirely likely that the space and standard of housing will have fallen as well. Third-worlders will have brought their 30-to-a-room lifestyle with them, and young Australians will be required to lower their expectations to the same.

    The beneficiaries of all this policy charlatanism are of course the rentier vampire capitalists in the FIRE sector – one recalls Ayn Rand’s retort to Lenin’s comment that “a capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him” – which was “those kinds of capitalists should be hung first before they even sell the rope” (to the commies).

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I was all convinced that mass immigration was great for boosted vibrancy but I’m discovering something a little sad. My pretty Thai massage ladies seem to be getting replaced by Chinamen ladies. The Thai girls were artists who expressed their love of life through their rub’n but these Chinamen ladies are rough and lifeless and massage like they’re hoeing the ground in the hope of growing some food to eat. They say they are just here to learn English, well I think that’s what they’re saying. I want the artists back, not the cheap obedient replacements!

    • The Horrible Scott Morrison MP

      Also, they don’t have schwengs, so only half the fun. But it is good for mums and dads trying to get ahead.

    • A soulful cri de coeur there on the massage impact. The term, ‘Chinamen ladies’ is perhaps an admission of patronising ladyboy practitioners. No one will judge here.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Just lie back and think of the profits the owners of those massage parlors are making !

  6. They’re trying to convince us orange is blue. We’re not buying it.

    Give us the plebiscite.

    SMH “Chinese students ‘corroding the soul of our universities”

    We want our country back.

  7. St JacquesMEMBER

    Grattan wants the slow grinding down to continue indefinitely. The gradualist approach is so much more “manageable” than a sudden collapse of this ponzi scheme that passes for a so-called “economy”. This way, an increasing number of Australians will have time to adjust to declining conditions and living in the margins of society, gradually. So considerate of them and their fake left mates. Go Australia ! We’ll get to Argentina in the end – gradually.

    • Gradually? With falling national income, the biggest bubble on earth, declining resources demand, the highest private debt in the world, growing underemployment and automation. I think it’s coming rapidly and solutions are not going to be found.

      That’s when the revolution starts and we redistribute the wealth. That’s going to hurt all of us, especially the top 1% who we’ll be (probably unsuccessfully) chasing around the world.

      In summary, we’re screwed. Blown it. The laziest, most greedy people on earth I guess are getting what they deserve.

  8. Daley is on Q&A next week for their population themed show. Leith should try to get a video question in.

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      Q & A is a total waste of time, I don’t know anybody with a brain watches that rubbish.. This stuff requires an in depth discussion, Q & A will fob off Leith with some throw away lines and move on to somebody else who doesn’t really understand the complex economics involved or a defender of the rent seeker interests that benefit from this ponzi scheme.. Nah, best to talk where he has a decent enough time to explain himself and counter false assertions.

      • When I get a chance, I’m going to catch last nights QandA to get some grabs of two of Australia’s biggest problems. DeNatali and Plibersek.

        They’re bound to have said some mind numbingly stupid things, that are entirely against their voters interests.

      • don’t watch it Ric, I had to stop years ago, QwankA was literally bad for my health and detrimental for the safety of people around me

  9. wasting your time if you think q&a is going to give a balanced view of population/immigration next week. they will completely paper over any critical view, briefly acknowledge some points but then propose non-solutions (that never comprise just reducing the absolute numbers) as a panacea and move on the question. this is the first time i’ve ever seen them have an episode about this but watch it turn into a gigantic “move along, nothing to see here” moment.

  10. “Essentially, by running a mass immigration program, Australia is diluting its fixed mineral wealth among more people, ”
    NOT just diluting it – selling it off to foreigners so that it no longer belongs to its people. That’s how we finance the CAD’s and maintain a false value for the currency.

    Great stuff UE You are the only public writer who has a real grip on this stuff!!!

  11. Oh god check out the panel for q&a immigration special next week – Bob Carr, Tim Flannery, John Daley and Jane Fitzgerald from the Property Council.

    In other words a China apologist, muh no rain by 2012, buy MOAR houses and a Grattan Institute guy who will likely make token concessions but make a whole bunch of motherhood statements and platitudes.

    Not biased at all.

  12. As someone new to Aus (2010), I sense a shifting in opinion. For the first few years I was here, Aus was coming off the back of a big boom with relatively high growth and inflation. I think few people really questioned the mass immigration program because everyone was doing pretty well. This pretty much ended in 2012/13, but since then reducing interest rates have picked up the slack.

    I think now people are much more open to questioning the wisdom of loading people in… Sydney is pretty much a train wreck from a logistics point of view and Melbourne is headed that way. Plus nonsensical property prices. There is far more coverage of this than there has been in the recent past and I think the population at large is waking up to these problems.

    • You’re right that the tone of the conversation has changed rapidly over just the last few months. It’s a beautiful thing, and I reckon a lot of that is due to the efforts of LVO.

      My hat is off to Leith. He is an actual hero, who is putting his putting his mouth and reputation where his money is for the benefit of the people of this country.

      If I could I’d put him up for a gong of some sort. That seems unlikely though, so next time he comes to Canberra I’ll shout him a beer instead.

  13. All we need to do is plan better. Something we haven’t been able to do in about a century. But if we start planning better all will be well so lets get to planning. Oh…and we also need to get migrants to live in regional areas, not just Sydney and Melbourne. Another thing that we haven’t managed to achieve in a century.

    If we somehow suddenly start succeeding at these things after a century of failing or not even trying then everything will be great and we can absorb as many migrants as want to come here.

    Seems real likely, eh?

    • Yep, the decentralisation thing is big… without that, cannot succeed in really growing the country and economy. Having lived in the US for a while, then coming to Aus, this is the first thing I noticed. Everything is CBD-centric and it all works out from there.

      Whereas in the US, businesses are spread all over, and generally speaking the nice and pricey places to live are NOT in proximity to the CBD. It’s almost the opposite – i.e. the further you are from the CBD the more desirable it gets. With Manhattan and a few other places as exceptions, the rich people who work in NYC all live in places like Greenwich CT, Short Hills NJ, Westchester County NY etc etc. And there are also plenty of high-income jobs in these places, not just NYC.

      Same story in most of rest of US. As an analogy, if Melbourne were in the US, the rich people would all live in the Dandenongs or Frankston.

      Until Aus can work out how to use its land mass to its advantage, real progress going to be limited.

    • SchillersMEMBER

      LSWCHP, house and land prices in your neck of the woods are truly obscene. An ariel view shows Canberra surrounded by empty paddocks, grazing land etc. There is no reason blocks of land on the urban edge of the ACT should not and could not be one 10th of the price they are today. It’s a racket pure and simple, designed to gouge as many dollars as possible for the local government, englobo land speculators and RE property developers.

      Talk about planning. Jeesh! Let’s talk about corruption first.

      • Spot on. I reckon private health insurance is a huge gouge and waster of money, but those bastards have nothing on the ACT government who should get the Oscar for excellence in screwing the population while bungling development and trousering lots of cash from developers.

        $400K+ for a 600sqm block of land in the boondocks. 🙁

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      Yeah, I’ve always loved this magical planning thing. Sure, plan all you like but ponzinomics is ponzinomics. the better the plan and the better it’s implemented, the faster the ponzi has to grow and we’re back in square one. The planning is designed to maximise land prices, because that’s the whole point of the ponzi, and by its own logic it MUST lead to ever jncreasing inequality and all the other social and enviromental downsides that comes from pumping land prices while heaping land costs onto both housing and productive enterprises for the benefit of the parasitical FIRE sector.. The “better planning” argument exposes the total intellectual vacuity of the fake left.

      • Yes, and no. IMO it runs deeper than that.

        Again, comparing to the US, the way the whole model is set up encourages local municipalities to create incentives to attract businesses (and hence jobs and people). In most places, even expensive ones, land is cheap in some cases free. There are of course planning constraints etc, but if you buy a place for 300k typically the land is valued at 30k and that’s often for half or full acre. THEN you have to pay property taxes so its not a free lunch  But those taxes go to the municipality which is the one creating the jobs and attracting the people.

        How about Aus? Well the feds provide the demand and the state govts trickle feed the land whilst controlling all the levers of politics and investment. There is no competition for Melbourne or Sydney for job creation, companies will have to be here. Jamming more people in means a bigger labour force and cheaper costs, which also drives up the land value and sends $$$ to the State via stamp duty. Even State-controlled industries like Education are just another way to prime the main pump.

        So there are a lot of pieces in the model and the WHOLE THING is leading to these outcomes.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        It is completely intentional from the top down and land speculation in the capitals is key. They must be continually pumped or the system begins to decay. The jobs themselves are in some way connected to the whole debt bubble that drives up land prices. Everything from immigration, to finance, to construction, to retail, to international education is connected to this Ponzi system. It must lead to ever more problems and it will manifest itself in growing societal and political chaos. That is inevitable.

  14. Permanent migration is not the problem. A snapshot from the 2015/16 Migration programme shows 189,770 entrants. The geographic dispersions as follows:

    Destination States:

    NSW 61,742 32.5%
    Vic 47,516 25%
    WA 22,488 11.9%
    Qld 21,860 11.5%

    Skill stream 128,550 (professionals, managers, technical and trade)
    Family 57,400
    Special eligibility 308
    Child visa 3,512

    Perfectly doable with provision of sufficient infrastructure and not a massive threat to jobs etc.

    What is ignored is the impact of the 1.5 million temporary entrants simultaneous with the permanent intake. These temporary entrants stay for periods of years (up to 650k can theoretically stay indefinitely), are able to work, require housing, drive cars, use public transport and if the crush load effect is what people worry about, obviously have impact.

    • What is your angle at continually pushing this? I don’t get it. Lower temp visas is not in your masters interest at the MCA, so what is it?

      • My “angle”is simple. It is the one and half million temporary entrants in Australia at any one time that increase the pressures on almost everything Macrobusiness talks of. The two hundred thousand permanent migrant intake is absorbed across the four important States and into various diverse communities. The permanent intake has negligible impact when compared to the massive temporary intake.

        Macrobusiness argues against this by saying “Well the temporaries leave” and they may well do, after periods of years or in subclass 444 (650k) possibly never. When some do indeed leave they are replaced by the next intake. If Macrobusiness readers think Australia’s infrastructure can’t cope with -200k permanent intake dispersed over the four major States, where does it stand on the 1.5 million temporaries.

        I’m guessing where I diverge is that I broadly support the permanent intake. I broadly support a Bigger Australia. If you don’t, you target permanent migration as the fall guy when in fact greater crush load effect at any one time is imposed by our massive quasi permanent temporary intake. It’s a blind spot!

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        What is your angle at continually pushing this?

        Textbook misdirection. By pushing a false equivalence between temporary immigration and permanent immigration and shifting focus to the former, he takes the spotlight off the number that actually matters, because it’s the one that’s increasing the overall population (rather than the fixed percentage of the population with a rotating membership that temporary immigration represents).

      • Smithy, wrong.

        The ~200k permanent distributed over four major geographical destinations is not an issue. Sure, we add to it the next year and the next, plus natural population increase. Meh. Each and every year, you must include a further one million five hundred thousand long term ‘temporaries’. Subclass 444 are not even included in migration figures.

        Unquestionable that it is these enormous numbers that are major contributors to the Macrobusiness “crush load” effect.

        Impossible to argue to the contrary which is why it has not happened thus far.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Each and every year, you must include a further one million five hundred thousand long term ‘temporaries’.

        So you are claiming Australia has a net increase of ~1.7 million immigrants every year ? ~1.7 million arrive, none leave ?

        (Entertaining that this number has increased by 50% in the last week or two. Did you get issued new battlecards ?)

    • RubiconMEMBER

      Dan UE has patiently explained this to you before. Slowly and in basic language; what is wrong with you?

  15. The Age had an article yesterday written by two of the Grattan Institute’s stooges, but most of the associated comments remarked on the population ponzi aspect of Sydney’s problems. But all comments have been removed, am seriously thinking of cancelling my Age subscription.

  16. Chart 1. Year 2001. Tampa incident bait & switch policy change implemented. Gave us a world wide reputation as rough on refos while in actual fact the (747) doors were swing wide open. The rodent was as cunning as you could imagine. He was the most competent politician of the past 50 years, but working for big business and the wealthy. Don’t forget he was also responsible for the casualisation and contractor instead of employee shift in our work force. A genius at work.

    • Cristian, you are slightly mistaken. The red herring was invented in 2004 – not 2001: Yes, he dog whistled when the MV Tampa came here in order to win the 2001 election. But after that, he met a couple of Sri Lankan women who said to him “we approve of what you are doing, because we are trying to bring our relatives here but we can not because these boat arrivals are filling up the immigration quota”.

      That was his eureka moment. And the phrase “queue jumping” was born.

      Howard was also on talkback radio twice a day. He then realised that the stupid electorate thinks the trains are overcrowded due to boat arrivals rather than aircraft arrivals!