Enter another crazed ANU immigration booster

By Leith van Onselen

Regular MB readers would be well aware of the mass immigration propaganda flowing from the Australian National University (ANU) via Dr Liz Allen and Professor Peter McDonald.

Now another ANU immigration spruiker, Professor Glenn Withers, has entered the fray claiming that Australia risks “big economic losses” if it dares to lower immigration from current turbo-charged levels. From The Australian:

…reducing the migrant intake by 30,000 a year would prompt “big economic losses” for the nation and Australians individually.

“One measure of such a policy is we’d lose a Wollongong or a Gold Coast — 300,000 people over a decade, or 600,000 over 20 years. That’s a big economic loss compared to what we would have otherwise had,” Professor Withers told The Australian yesterday.

“Remember, migrants are more skilled and younger on average; broadly, GDP would be about $50 billion a year lower by 2040,” he added…

“It would absolutely affect incomes per person — it isn’t just about the size of the whole economy,” Professor Withers added, estimating GDP per capita would be 1.2 per cent lower by 2040 if immigration were cut by 30,000 a year…

“Studies suggest for every extra two million people your city average incomes go up by 8 per cent,” Professor Withers said, referring to the benefits in rates of innovation that come with denser populations.

This is what proper economists call selective analysis. Below are my responses to Withers’ biased claims.

First, Australia would not “lose a Wollongong or a Gold Coast” over a decade because migrants are not going to the regions or creating new cities. Rather, they are piling into Sydney and Melbourne, stretching infrastructure further and making congestion and housing affordability worse:

The fact of the matter is that both current immigration levels and settlement patterns into Sydney and Melbourne are unsustainable, as noted by former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry:

The Australian population is growing by something like 400,000 a year. Think of it: a new Canberra every year between now and the end of the century. Or, put it this way, every five years building a brand new city from scratch in Australia for 2 million people.

Or put it this way: building a whole new city the size of Melbourne every decade between now and the end of the century…

My observation in Sydney and Melbourne today, is that people already think, with very good reason, that the ratio of population to infrastructure is too high. But we have set ourselves on a journey that implies an increase in that ratio. An increase in that ratio that is associated with more congestion, longer commute times to work, increasing problems with respect to housing affordability…

As well as George Megalogenis:

“If most of the population growth that’s already in train for the next 10, 20, 30 years ends up in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve got a problem…

“You look at Sydney’s topography and it can’t fit another million people easily. And you look at Melbourne’s, and it will fit in another million but at the expense of livability because they just keep pushing the boundary out…

“The default setting to me could potentially be catastrophic for the country over the next 20 years if people just end up in Melbourne and Sydney”.

Too much immigration is the problem, not tiny cuts.

Second, Withers’ claim that migrants are “more skilled than average” is false and completely shot to pieces by the data.

According to the Productivity Commission (PC), only 30% of Australia’s permanent migrant intake is 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 labour market outcomes:

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:

Whereas Dr Bob Birrell from the Australian Population Research Institute has revealed that most recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. those that arrived between 2011 and 2016) cannot find professional jobs, with only 24% of skilled migrants from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (who comprise 84% of the total skilled migrant intake) employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of skilled migrants from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates:

Finally, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) most recent Characteristics of Recent Migrants report, released last 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%):

Third, the claim that migrants are “younger on average” is irrelevant, with migrants having a tiny and temporary impact on Australia’s population age distribution.

On this point, Withers should consult his own colleague, Peter McDonald, who in a 1999 parliamentary research paper explicitly noted that it is “demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young”, while also recommending “a population of 24-25 million within 50 years” as well as “annual net migration… in the order of 80 000“. McDonald also stated “that there were difficulties in the late 1980s when net migration rose for just two years to over 150 000 per annum” and that “a sustained net migration level of 120 000 per annum is at the high end of what Australia seems to be able to manage”.

Fourth, the claim that cutting immigration by 30,000 “would absolutely affect incomes per person” as well as “GDP per capita” is spurious and does not tell the full story.

The PC has conducted two detailed modelling exercises on the economic impacts of immigration, both of which were less than flattering.

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 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 diminish:

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 odds with the Australian economy’s ‘lived 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 modelling finds 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 2016 modelling, high immigration improves per capita GDP by 2060 by temporarily 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 2016 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 poor.

Here, the PC modelled 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…

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:

High rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities. Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive state, territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies…

Urban population growth puts pressure on many environment-related resources and services, such as clean water, air and waste disposal. Managing these pressures requires additional investment, which increases the unit cost of relevant services, such as water supply and waste management. These higher costs are shared by all utility users…

Immigration, as a major source of population growth in Australia, contributes to congestion in the major cities, raising the importance of sound planning and infrastructure investment …governments have not demonstrated a high degree of competence in infrastructure planning and investment. Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation.

…there will be additional costs for the community where environmental services that are currently ‘free’ have to be replaced with technological solutions…

Accordingly, the PC explicitly requested that these costs be considered as part of any cost-benefit analysis on the immigration intake, rather than blindly following the partial results of its modelling.

A prime example of these costs is infrastructure. In its Migrant Intake Australia report, the PC pulls no punches about the higher cost of living imposed on incumbent residents from mass immigration, particularly in the big cities:

…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.

Similarly, in its latest Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review, the PC explicitly noted that infrastructure costs will inevitably balloon due to our cities’ rapidly growing populations:

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).

In short, there is little hope of achieving the level of investment required to sustain current levels of mass population growth.

Finally, Whithers’ claim that “studies suggest for every extra two million people your city average incomes go up by 8 per cent” is ridiculous.

If this was the case, then mega cities like Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Manila, Jakarta, Istanbul, Bangkok, Lagos, and Tehran would all be economic powerhouses with wealthy populations.

If immigration falls then there will corresponding rises in areas of the economy that are suppressed by it. We’ll see greater efficiency, a lower currency, cheaper houses, higher wages, better per capita income and access to services over time.

The facts say that immigration is an interest group not a panacea for growth.

[email protected]


  1. Once again, the entire theology of New Economic Geography (Withers’ claim concerning the “benefits in rates of innovation that come with denser populations”) is fatally flawed. It assumes income to be equal to output. In other words, like so much simplistic economics, it simply ignores economic rent.

    Net incremental output is actually income LESS the economic rent component LESS the deadweight losses incurred in extracting that rent.

    Contrary to the naive theory, the well-documented high incomes of metropolitan centres do not necessarily reflect high efficiency in production. They may reflect highly effective rent-seeking.

    This is true not just of overt rent-seeking of the K Street variety.

    It also includes rent extracted by those professional and commercial networks which rely on “proximity bias”. Proximity bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to favour and reward those who are physically proximate. See, for example, “Out of sight, out of mind. People who work from home are less likely to be promoted”, The Economist, 13th October 2012. (http://www.economist.com/node/21564581)

    It is also true of rents extracted by well-organised voting blocs which achieve outsized influence over government policy, especially under non-democratic (for example, elective) systems of government..

    This is especially relevant to Australia’s Westminster system of “elective dictatorship”.

    Under the Westminster system – with its generally supine Legislature – the Cabinet has vast discretion to disburse economic rents to the Ministers’ favourites. Combined with the proximity bias this creates a powerful centripetal force drawing people in towards the “Fountainhead of Rents”, the Cabinet. Proximity to Cabinet is a “positional good”.

    This phenomenon has been known to historians (but apparently not economists) for centuries. It is the reason that Courtiers had to remain at Court. Absence from Court was a death sentence.

    With the evolution of Absolute Monarchy into the Elective Dictatorship of the modern Westminster system, this effect has not gone away. Court has simply been replaced by Cabinet. Ministers reward those modern-day courtiers – the “primary rent-seekers” – who are physically proximate. Primary rent-seekers need to live within “lunching distance” of the Cabinet.

    The elevated incomes of the primary rent-seekers draws in a second circle of “secondary rent-seekers”, who in turn draw in further circles, the ripple of rents radiating outwards from the “fountainhead”.

    This realpolitik model of metropolitan rent-seeking undermines the naive (and transparently self-serving) theories of economists like Ed Glaeser who argue that cities come into being because of agglomeration efficiencies and should even be subsidised to promote that supposed efficiency.

    To be sure, SOME cities will form due to agglomeration efficiencies. The paragon of this type of city is Silicon Valley where the planet’s highest concentration of intelligent individuals – sharing ideas – are literally re-designing the world we live in. And making fortune.

    Even here, however, the effect is overstated. Even the vast wealth of Silicon Valley relies on:

    a) the system of intellectual property rights which concentrates enormous rents in the hands of a few dominant firms, far in excess of the returns required to attract investment in such fields (hence the “Gold Rush” effect of the 1990s Tech Boom); and

    b) a refusal by governments to uniformly tax economic rents, either directly through Rent Taxes or – like the Swiss cantons – indirectly through annual tax on the capitalised value of future rents (i.e. a wealth tax).

    But if there is some error in applying New Economic Geography to Silicon Valley, there is vast error in applying it elsewhere. That is simply the Fallacy of Generalising from the Particular.

    Intuitively one might expect that where Executive government has wide discretion (as in the Westminster system) power and wealth would concentrate around that Executive, whereas in those countries with a more powerful Legislature (for example the US) agglomeration efficiencies would prevail.

    We can see the effect in the UK where far-and-away the largest per capita recipient of identifiable public spending (excluding social welfare and agriculture) is not Scotland or Northern Ireland as one might imagine, but London! (https://fullfact.org/news/are-english-paying-lavish-scottish-spending-promises/)

    Of course, the metropolitan apologists argue that Londoners deserve more being spent on them because (as everybody knows; just ask a Londoner) they are the clever, virtuous, hard working (shall we throw in “good looking” as well?) people who “create all the wealth”. Just look at their high incomes!!

    But that is a chicken-and-egg argument. Do Londoners deserve lavish spending because they generate wealth, or are they wealthy because the government lavishes spending on them??

    To give an example, as a child I lived about a mile from Lord’s Bridge Railway Station, the first stop outside Cambridge on the Cambridge-Oxford railway (the so-called “Varsity Line” or “Brain Line Railway”). The Varsity Line was spared the Beeching Axe in 1963 but you won’t find Lord’s Bridge Station on modern maps. That’s because in 1967 the government decreed that money should be dedicated instead to improving the speed of services into and out of the political capital. To go cross country from Oxford (or further south and west) to Cambridge (or further north or east) one would travel to Paddington, cross London by Tube to Liverpool Street, then resume the train journey.

    On 31st December 1967 the Varsity Line was closed, the infrastructure dismantled, and the track bed meticulously ploughed back into the farmland.

    Fifty years later the policy of concentrating traffic through London has necessitated the 18 billion pound Crossrail Project to ease the congestion!

    But hey!! That 18 billion pounds increases the incomes of Londoners, thereby “proving” (at least to people like Ed Glaeser) how productive they are!

    Isn’t economics wonderful??

    Meanwhile back in Australia, we have metropolitan rent-seeking at every level:

    a) at the State level, mineral royalties prop up Brisbane and Perth;

    b) top class health and education facilities are concentrated in the capitals;

    c) arts and sports funding is concentrated in the capitals;

    d) lucrative public works contracts are handed out to Mates in the capitals;

    e) at the federal level, company tax on commodity exporters is disbursed – largely per capita – to the capital cities;

    f) special imposts such as fuel excise act as a “tax on distance”, sucking money out of the regions (and even from the poorer outer suburbs which rely more on car transport) to be disbursed to the capitals;

    g) specific industry protections inflate metropolitan incomes. The policy of mandatory superannuation (for example) is now diverting over $30 billion a year into the hands of Sydney and Melbourne funds managers and their support industries. But just because thousands of people are running around in circles complying with the red tape of a needlessly inefficient pensions system does not mean that they’re producing anything of value. It is properly accounted for as part of the deadweight loss of rent-seeking: a pointless mis-allocation of resources that exists only so that politically powerful rent-seekers can divert income into their pockets; and

    h) the acceptance of oligopolies in major (metropolitan) industries further increases metropolitan incomes.

    And because of all those people crammed into the metropolis, trying to be within “lunching distance” of the Cabinet, we see projects like the $17 billion WestConnex which cost more to build that a green-fields city somewhere else!

    But hey!! That $17 billion increases the incomes of Sydneysiders, thereby “proving” how productive they are!

    Isn’t economics wonderful??

    Of course, an economic theology that tells wealthy and powerful people that their wealth and power is well-deserved (and perhaps should even be subsidies) will be readily accepted by those beneficiaries . . .

    . . . even if the theory is fatally flawed.

    • cycledseasoning

      Thankyou for that. It does seem like an impossible challenge.

      If you take the approach, say, of doing small things incrementally, hoping for a longer-term positive cumulative impact, what would be a few of those small incremental changes (pragmatically speaking rather than idealistic) you would be looking to make ?

      • You are asking how to transform the entire culture (social and political). Its not gonna be easy.

        For a start, think what kind of actions will lead to the Moron Side of the Force and then do the opposite.

    • Welcome young Stephen Morris, I have been expecting you. I’m looking forward to completing your training. In time, you will call *me* Master.

      By now you must know that your unis can never be turned from the Moron Side. So will it be with you.

      Come, boy, see for yourself. From here, you will witness the final destruction of Australia and the end of your insignificant rebellion.

      You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your direct democracy weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.

  2. Fake Greg Jericho

    Two questions:

    What is ANUs agenda here

    Are there financial links between any population lobby groups and the pro mass migration demographers at ANU

    • It’s all about privatisation in the most general sense.

      Elite theologians love to talk in honeyed terms about the “end of borders”, but they don’t really intend to abolish borders. All they are really doing is replacing “national borders” (over which the mass of ordinary citizens might have had some control) with “private borders”: elite private property.

      The Elite do not intend to rub shoulders with the plebs. They retreat to their private mansions, their private country estates, their private campuses, their private gated communities, all surrounded by private borders marked with “KEEP OUT. Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted!” signs.

      The Elite do not intend to stand, crushed cheek-to-sweaty-cheek with the prols on inadequate and overcrowded public transport. They whizz from their private mansions to their private offices in private cars (often along private roads which have been tolled or “road-priced” out of the reach of the masses.)

      And from behind their private borders they peer out and sermonise piously on the supposed intolerance of those outside!

      On all fronts the trend is the same: the end of the 20th Century ideal of public rights – over which the citizens used to have some say – and their alienation to elite private interests.

      • They don’t even have to have gates – planning rules and NIMBYism keep the plebs out of the wealthy suburbs. Perhaps a few hundred poorly-dressed sorts from Western Sydney should stage a walking protest around Point Piper – no violence or shouting needed, their mere presence would be deeply unsettling to the rich burghers.

      • Tailor, maybe it’s time to start dragging a few of these noxious clowns out of their big houses, by the hair, kicking and screaming, show them Mme Guillotine on the back of the truck, and send them off with a “now go have a long hard think about it”.

    • Easy – easier migration rules = more students (easier migration pathway) = more cash for ANU. I’ve thought 1 yr at ANU – it is all about cash from Chinese students (35-40.000$ per year while having 1 lecturer per 500 students). Check ANU Business Scholl and See ABC “Degrees of Deception” on youtube.

  3. And you might also mention:

    a) evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University found that people who live in more densely populated areas tend to report less satisfaction with their life overall. The higher the population density of the immediate environment, the less happy they are (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/18/why-smart-people-are-better-off-with-fewer-friends/?utm_term=.e9d10e1edf2b); and

    b) studies suggest that growing up in a city doubles the chances of someone developing schizophrenia, and increases the risk for depression and anxiety (https://academic.oup.com/schizophreniabulletin/article/42/6/1372/2399413/Why-Are-Children-in-Urban-Neighborhoods-at).

    • “studies suggest that growing up in a city doubles the chances of someone developing schizophrenia, and increases the risk for depression and anxiety”

      In short, more docile, just as intended. The whole process is designed to facilitate the domestication of the population.

      • peterbruceMEMBER

        I can assure you Mr. Pill ,that “docile” is NOT the word you would use to describe the experience of Schizophrenia, either by the unfortunate person who has it or their family.

  4. truthisfashionable

    Further proof of the failing standards and quality at Australian Universities.

    Echo chambers within safe spaces and cash for commentary, then there is the students behavior as has been documented here over the years.

  5. There was a recent economicsdetective.com podcast which discussed the politicisation of Universities. A survey conducted in year 2000 showed the make up of staff and research students along the left/neutral/right political spectrum was something like 45/20/35. Now it is closer 80/15/5.

    Basically, universities worldwide have been taken over by left-wing political activists. Any “independent” or “objective” advice they give may as well be coming from a left-wing party like the Greens.

    • Clarification. Those survey results were for the Social Sciences departments. Other departments such as STEM are still predominantly neutral.

  6. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/13/australia-doubles-financial-requirement-for-families-of-new-migrants

    The Turnbull government has quietly made it harder for poorer migrant families to financially back their relatives in visa applications. Significant changes have been made to the assurance of support scheme, a program designed to keep new migrants off welfare by ensuring their families have enough money to support them in their initial years in Australia.

    It is compulsory to have a guarantor for some visa categories, including parent, aged dependant, contributory parent and remaining relative, while the home affairs department has a discretionary power to require it in other categories. But late last month the government changed the amount an assurer needs to earn. In most cases, the families of new migrants will need to earn more than double what was previously required.

    For example, if a couple in Australia wants to act as financial backers for their parents, they will need to earn a combined $115,475 a year, instead of $45,185. A single person who wants to vouch for their parents will need to earn $86,606, rather than $45,185.40.

    The Labor spokeswoman on social services, Jenny Macklin, described the changes as “very concerning” and said her office had been overwhelmed with emails from “very angry families, particularly from the Chinese community”.

    • $45,185.40?

      The minimum wage on the 457 visa is $53k. So Jenny Macklin admits that they are on illegal wages!

      What a sick joke the ALP is. No wonder they have won just 1 federal election in the last 25 years.

  7. I thought the ANU got hardly any foreign students. Unbelievable that the ANU got corrupted even though it is not dependent on foreign “students”.

    If they are “skilled”, why do they cheat on exams to come here?

  8. cycledseasoning

    Once a country has relinquished its productive sectors to the lowest cost, least regulated, most authoritarian and stable Asian competitor, all of that foregone future income needs to be replaced with something. In our case Debt. But most crucially, the Incomes/Assets of the next generation from said Asian competitor are needed to support the Asset Prices which secure the Debt.

    Virtuous circle of wealth destruction and replacement.

    Immigration is key to keeping the whole thing going. Propaganda the key to maintaining tolerance for immigration. Who better to propagate fear than an impartial Professor ?

  9. Can’t we charge a suitable immigration fee and bus the immigrants from the airport to the middle of the desert and leave them there ? Would that not solve everyone’s problem. Other than the immigrant of course.

  10. Dutton fixed the immigration issue:

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has slowed Australia’s immigration intake — and he didn’t need to get a submission through Cabinet.
    Key points:
    Kiwis in Australia are now getting visas previously granted to mostly overseas-based Asians
    Growth in migration figures is likely to slow by thousands in coming years as a result
    The Government argues it has not formally cut the permanent intake

    The country’s headline migration figure will be lower in coming years than it would have been otherwise, thanks to New Zealanders already in Australia taking visas that previously went to immigrants overseas.


    • They are not just in entry level jobs but on illegal wages.

      Goodness me the “Greens” are braindead.

      • That too, but that’s the province of Fair Work Australia. In my experience a lot of FWO “clients” are students who are willing to accept lower wages in exchange for a blind eye given in regard to their visa work limitations and cash in hand wages.They need the money for living expenses (which they were supposed to have proven on their student visa application that they had sufficient funds to live and study in Australia) and to pay dodgy migration agents and middleman for visa scams. One could argue (and be called a racist), that once these students have gamed the system and fraudulently obtained PR, not much is going to stop them ripping off other government agencies.

  11. Some years ago I attended a briefing by Withers.
    He was a lazy presenter with sloppy logic. Here is my responce to his nonsence:
    Professor Glenn Withers spoke to CEDA’s latest major research report, the confidently titled “A Greater
    Australia: Population, policies and governance” when he addressed a small group of CEDA members and
    invited guests in the offices of ANZ in Perth on 26 March 2012. Alarmingly, just four sentences into his
    introduction he veered off topic to mention race, multiculturalism and Pauline Hanson. Given that the group
    assembled were under the impression that Dr Withers was to speak about population, his move towards a
    discussion on immigration issues seemed to be a diversion for the topic of population.
    Disappointingly for the attendees, Dr Withers seemed to have dusted off an old set of slides for his
    presentation that appeared to be at least 10 to 15 years out of date. The data Withers presented would have
    been confusing and at worst, misleading to an audience, expecting to hear up-to-date information on
    population from this expert in the field. Perhaps he would have been better served to quote from his closing
    section to the CEDA report, in which he notes that “Our cities rate well in Liveable City rankings” and make
    special mention of the fact that Adelaide, with its relatively small population and low population growth rate,
    has usurped the positions of rapidly growing Sydney, Perth and Melbourne on this scale.
    In exploring scenarios for the future of Australia’s population, Dr Withers presented a graph of old data
    representing a low growth trajectory with a population stabilising at between 20 and 21 million, which he
    curiously and pejoratively labelled as the “Hanson option”, while the other growth scenarios were simply
    labelled options 2 and 3. This old data was most confusing and showed great disrespect to an audience that
    might have taken the data as accurate, especially since Australia’s population is set to hit 23 million in July
    2012, while it clearly referred to a much older projection with little illumination to current trends. One wonders
    why Dr Withers did not show some respect to his audience on this important topic and at the very least update
    his projections. Another of Dr Wither’s slides appeared to show that Australia’s natural population growth is
    currently 80,000 pa, when in fact natural population growth (births minus deaths) is almost twice that amount,
    with two births for each death at the current run rate.
    In fairness to Dr Withers, he juxtaposed opposing quotes from former Australian of the year, earth scientist
    and palaeontologist Dr Tim Flannery with former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Dr Flannery was quoted as
    saying that Australia would be in a much more resilient position to cope with an uncertain future with a
    population of between 6 and 12 million, while Fraser was quoted saying that Australia needs 50 million people.
    Dr Withers seemed to give equal weight to the ramblings of a former politician, who may once have enjoyed
    strutting the international stage as the leader of a ‘significant’ nation, with that of a man who has a deep
    knowledge of biology and the complex interactions within the web of life on our planet and who had studied the
    rise and fall of human civilisations. The juxtaposition of these quotes and their dismissal by Dr Withers was
    clear evidence that he would not be influenced by someone who could be trusted on the topic because of his
    deep knowledge, but preferred to throw up another smokescreen by referring to the opinion of a person who
    has no basis for making any meaningful contribution.
    When asked at what level Australia’s population might stabilise, Dr Withers offered that his projection to 2050
    was for 35 million, at which point the population would somehow stabilise, however it was not clear just how
    that target would be realised, given his call for ongoing net migration at or around 200,000 per annum. Under
    these conditions, Australia’s population would continue to rise by about 1 million every three years and a stable
    population could only be achieved if deaths were to outnumber births by in excess of 200,000 pa, which would
    clearly be unacceptable. Boosting Australia’s demographic pyramid with even a small number of net migrations
    would in turn flow through to an increase of natural population growth as Australia’s 20 to 35 year old cohort
    Turning to the 232 page CEDA report, Dr Withers again appears to be one million people behind the times
    when he says that “… we start now at a population of about 22 million.” But he is quite correct to say that “. .
    . total population is indeed a matter of public choice”, and the public do indeed deserve a choice, which is
    currently denied to them. A survey conducted by McCrindle Research in February 2012, using a nationally
    representative survey of 1,118 Australians, as well as focus groups across three generations, found that 73%
    of Australians and 81% of all women, prefer a stable population of around 26 million by 2050; rather than
    Australia’s current rate of growth, which will see it exceed 36 million by 2050.
    Elsewhere in the CEDA report, Jonathan Pincus and Judith Sloan find as previous reports have done, that
    migration does not bring any net benefit to Australia’s wellbeing per person, stating the rather anodyne
    conclusion that “Overall, there is an argument, albeit not an overwhelmingly strong one, that a country can be
    well-served by implementing a measured migration program focused on skills.” Additionally, Mark Thomson
    looks at population and defence imperatives, concluding that “A substantial case for accelerating the growth of
    Australia’s population cannot be built on the basis of defence considerations”.
    CEDA’s population report suffers from a narrow catchment area for ideas and the omnipresence of those
    members, whose livelihoods often depend on population expansion or “dumb” growth, rather than smart
    growth. Smart growth does not require additional people, but relies on innovation and adaption to produce a
    more resilient and sustainable community that is more able to cope with the many, fast approaching challenges
    to our society.
    John Langford and Nathan Taylor look at water security, noting that “World food prices are likely to continue to
    rise, due to a combination of falling rates of growth in agricultural productivity, increasing global population,
    climatic changes influencing (reducing ed.) the amount of arable land and useable water, . .”. Importantly they
    note that while the production of cereals expanded by 2.8 times between 1961 and 2009, population more
    than doubled and per capita incomes tripled, equating to roughly a sixfold increase in demand over the same
    period. The report goes on to note that four of the lowest seven annual inflows of water into the Murray Darling
    River system ever recorded, occurred over a seven year period from 2003 to 2009 inclusive, which is hardly a
    ringing endorsement for the nation’s ability to feed an ever larger population.
    The report’s fatal floor is its agnosticism on global population trends which sees an annual increase of 80
    million per annum and its ignorance of mounting restrictions to the supply and availability of non-renewable,
    finite, natural resources such as oil. CEDA needs to urgently turn its attention to developing a policy to support
    a more resilient Australian economy, which relies on smart, innovative growth that enhances the quality of its
    citizen’s lives and not fat dumb growth that reduces the quality of their lives.
    An aging population in Australia should be welcomed as a sign of success and presents no reason to further
    boost population. Today, families are smaller than in generations past and more women are permanently in the
    workforce, reducing dependency ratios. The great majority of elderly people have a much shorter period of
    dependency than do our children and there are fewer of them than the under-18s. ABS figures show that all
    children aged 0-9 are highly dependent on others for their daily care while most people aged 65-84 are not.
    If sustainable development does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs, then
    this maxim should underpin Australia’s public policy. An ever expanding population will not fit a model of
    sustainability, only a stable population will enable that policy outcome.
    Almost all aspects of our industrial society depend on petroleum, so that as Richard Heinberg has pointed out,
    peak petroleum production will be quickly followed by Peak Everything(1). In particular, modern agriculture,
    with its mechanisation, irrigation often requiring expensive pumping and petroleum based pesticides and
    fertilisers, is completely dependent on petroleum, so the imminent peak of world petroleum production will be
    followed by the peak of world food production. Australia will then be faced with a spectre of declining world
    food production while at the same time the world’s population is expected to continue to grow. This is surely a
    recipe for famine and conflict.
    Peter Strachan; BSc, Dip Applied Fin, SF Finsia, AFSAA

    • I just cannot help but notice the similarities between the whole saga and Darkness at Noon – the content of what is being discussed is not relevant.

    • Thanks Peter for that background.

      Unfortunately our academics are now massively conflicted so this sort of garbage has become common. The ANU, from which I graduated in Economics many years ago, has been transformed into a fee gathering institution where Asian students now outnumber locals in many categories, especially in the Economics/Business Studies courses, but they are also coming in increasing numbers to do our law degrees which seems odd, unless they expect to stay here.

      • The positive thing to draw out of this however is that, in a room full of suits all nodding approvingly, when I have pointed out the sham, I get a lot of approving glances and pats on the back when the others are not looking. So the group think is breaking down.

  12. Let’s face it. Our tertiary sector is just a glorified permanent residency scheme and ANU have one of the highest % of OS students. No surprise at this propaganda coming from there.

  13. Excellent and comprehensive debunking Leith. They’re defending the indefensible. Keep at ’em!

  14. “Studies suggest for every extra two million people your city average incomes go up by 8 per cent,” Professor Withers said, referring to the benefits in rates of innovation that come with denser populations.

    The problem is that there is no blowback for these people making silly statements. A professor! It makes you wonder just how many people with PhDs and Professorships are any better than a westie road worker. Sydney has a much denser population, so where is the extra innovation? Perhaps people in vertical slums have discovered exciting new ways to watch reality TV?

    As for the amazing skills of the immigrants, it is a fantasy. Anyone who has ever tried some of these immigrants with “superior qualifications” will most likely have been disappointed. Take for example, India. Why would you expect that the universities over there would be turning out superior engineers? India really has no culture of invention or building things. In the west we used to have things like Popular Mechanics or Scientific America. In many other cultures, things like that do not exist or are a rarity. Many years ago we tried out a young Indian Engineer who was studying Mechatronics. One of his great skills was cross threading screws. He was from a higher caste which deemed held hand tools as vulgar and unworthy. Reality does not always match up with the neat and tidy world of the Ivory Tower.

    • oh right, so he was bad compared to what – the neighbourhood skatie/bongsmoker?

      Now you are claiming Popular Mechanics or Scientific America is a representation of Australian cultural inventiveness?

      Was the caste thing an actual fact or something you read up on?

      • Well, I would expect an engineer interested in mechatronics to have some basic skills. I don’t know that we would do much better from a local, as there has been a decline in standards right across the world. The point is that claiming that the immigrants are particularly highly skilled is just not true in most cases. Mostly their universities are rotting from the inside just as much or worse than our own. We used to have first class universities in Australia, so if they had been maintained, we would have ample skills.

        Popular Mechanics and Scientific American are examples of a culture and history of innovation and technical skills. In Australia last century, we shared in that culture – in fact there were local publications like Electronics Australia and others that were around for 50 years. Lots of people read them, because we had a culture of innovation and making things. A culture of technical innovation is essential for progress. Here is an example. Back in the 1970’s the Australian company Fairlight invented the sampling synthesizer, which had its origins as a project in one of those technical publications. The Fairlight went on to dominate the electronic music wave of the 70′ and 80’s. Americans were also very big on innovation. Read about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and the invention of Apple. Grass roots. In other countries, especially countries crippled by backwards religions, none of this happens. This is a matter of historical record, not an opinion. Nicola Tesla – Croatian – came to America to invent things. If he stayed in Croatia we would never have heard of him, swallowed by an old backward culture.

        If you ever worked much with people from India, you would have noticed that some of the cultural hangovers are not an asset. That is not to say they are not intelligent and very articulate, but not always practical. What I find irksome about the “highly skilled immigrant magic pudding” is that is it is usually promoted by people who get to splash around “other people’s money”. If you can deal in that currency it is amazing how noble and egalitarian you can afford to be.