Scott Morrison lies again on immigration intake

By Leith van Onselen

When it comes to Australia’s immigration program, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger liar than Treasurer Scott Morrison (see here, here and here).

Yesterday, Morrison again spun a web of lies over Australia’s migrant program on ABC Radio [my emphasis]:

SCOTT MORRISON: Natural increase of around 150,000 each year has been falling now, proportionately, but it’s been about that for a while. Permanent immigration has been about the same level.

It’s the rise in temporary migration in recent times that has really fuelled that population growth. So if you are sitting on a bus or a tram or a train, the reason there’s more people sitting on it actually has a lot more to do with the increase in temporary migration: people coming and studying, people here on visitors’ visas; less so on the skilled work visas. That’s actually been falling in recent times…

I mean, go back: I think it’s the 14-, 15-year. The permanent migration program accounted for just less than a third of the increase in net overseas migration. The increase in permanent migration that year that went to population growth was half what the natural increase was.

So if you are looking to understand what are the things that are really influencing how many more people there are on the bus or the tram or the train, it’s what’s happening with temporary migration. So you have got to ask yourself some hard questions about that.

I mean, we’ve got more international students who are coming here and studying in our universities. That is generating important revenue for those universities, which means we can give more places to Australian kids in those universities. We’ve got tourists coming here, roaming the country, generating jobs in regional areas. So that’s why you’ve just got to plan for growth.

And so that is not the main driver on permanent migration for the overall population growth. In fact, of natural increase, temporary migration and permanent migration, permanent migration has the lowest impact on population growth.

Scott Morrison is lying through his teeth here.

First, net short-term visitor movements into Australia are negative. Thus it is false to apportion any of the population pressures being felt in our cities on tourists – net tourism flows are actually relieving Australia’s overall population pressures:

Second, the claim that permanent migration is only a minor player in Australia’s population growth is false.

The 2016 Census revealed that Australia’s population increased by a whopping 1.9 million people (+8.8%) in the five years to 2016, driven by a 1.3 million increase in new migrants:

Moreover, 86% of migrants (1.11 million) settled in Australia’s cities, versus just 14% (187,000) that settled in Australia regional areas.

It is the permanent migrant intake that is the primary driver of Australia’s population increase since, unlike temporary migrants who must ultimately leave, these migrants stay in the country and also have children, thus continually adding to Australia’s population base.

Further, in the 2014-15 year that Morrison cites, the permanent migrant intake was 189,097 (202,853 including the humanitarian intake), which was well above net overseas migration (NOM) of 178,600:

In fact, the actual permanent migrant intake (rather than the cap) has averaged 202,400 over the past six years (including the humanitarian program) and is only slightly below the average 208,000 NOM recorded over the same period. It also dwarfs the 155,000 average natural increase recorded over the same period:

Remember, permanent migrants also have children, which then adds to natural increase. Thus, Australia’s permanent migration program is the primary driver of both NOM and Australia’s overall population growth.

Therefore, if the permanent migrant intake was hypothetically reduced to zero, then NOM and by extension Australia’s population would barely increase:

Stop lying Scott.

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Leith van Onselen
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  1. I was on my way to work this morning when I heard a very hysterical voice talking over an ABC radio host. It had to be Morrison. I am sure he would have been happy to ignore the issue of immigration altogether, but true to form the members of this government have stuffed it up again. Like the “Good debt/Bad debt” debacle, trying to separate temporary from permanent migration to explain away people’s concerns about transport crush loading misses the point entirely. It doesn’t matter that the people you see on public transport are temporary migrants, and it doesn’t take away from the lived experience that Australian citizens are being inconvenienced whether it be public transport, hospital waiting lists etc.

    He was quick to pass the blame to the States for not providing sufficient infrastructure.

    Then he had to hide to take credit for including insurance and super funds in the Banking Royal Commission and tried to turn this into a “blame Labor” exercise, despite the Coalition being dragged kicking and screaming into running the BRC in the first place!

      • A federal minister blaming the state goverment is like a teacher blaming their students for failing a test.

        Take responsibility for your actions, or lack of it Scott.

    • He’s a dick, I’m sure his family hate him, one of those guys that was bullied in school, now taking it out on everyone else, sooner he’s gone the better
      Alan Jones is Tony fan that’s for certain, always promoting his policies

    • When Scummo blamed the states for the lack of infrastructure investment, did the ABC host have the presence of mind to immediatly ask if he would triple the amount of money the Feds handed out to the states for the increased maintenance and expansion of infrastructure and SERVICES given that immigration control is a Federal responsibility? I bet he didn’t

      • Of course the answer to that is No. It’s obvious that the pllan is to make Australians pay for the increasing immigration costs on infrastructure, services and the environment through ever more PRiVATE TOLLS and LOCAL AND STATE CHARGES like proposed congestion taxes and higher water charges (desal) etc. That way the Feds can collect a few extra billions from the incoming long and short term immigrants while heaping the costs on states and councils or directly through private tolls run by their big end of town mates but guaranteed by tax payers.

  2. He’d have to be the most arrogant, repugnant politician I can remember. I’m guessing he’s no longer considered PM material.

    • Yes, matches Abbott for lying. At least Abbott provided some comical moments whereas Morrison has no redeeming characteristics.

      • On the plus side – no one in the current government has physically threatened the leader of Russia.

        I’ll never forget puny Abbott saying he would shirt front Putin – because a b grade Oxford boxer is no match for a KGB trained killer.

  3. In a world that gets its news from click-bait, Morrison (and the government PR staffers in charge of “talking points”) is acutely aware that a combination of half-truths and outrageous lies are a very effective way of clouding the facts, or creating “alternative facts”, in the classic methodology of Orwellian propaganda. Even if Morrison’s half-truths fail to convince the public completely, he achieves his real objective of muddying the discussion enough to pollute their knowledge of a subject they understand only at a superficial level.

    The communication strategy is clear – bend the truth, tell half-truths, repeat lies ad infinitum until they become the accepted truth. As the most effective propogandist said at the peak of his powers: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” A classic example of this “big lies” philosophy is the incredulous comment that Morrison makes towards the end of the interview: “What this demonstrates is the wisdom of the government in going ahead with this enquiry (the Royal Commission)”.

    This program of speaking in half-truths (also known as lies) is now a full-blown government effort which – because the general populace is disinterested, intellectually dull and easily distracted by inane matters like royal weddings – has every chance of becoming a roaring success.

    Morrison is the worst type of liar. As someone once said: “A half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. A lie, you can detect at some stage, but half a truth is sure to mislead you for long.”

    • Yep. All governments tend to do this to a greater or lesser extent but it has now become THE standard modus operandi of the whole system. ..

    • Know IdeaMEMBER

      I take the point. But it was sufficiently disheartening just to read the article.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      I think that you will find that it is mainly chicks that are disinterested in serious issues and prefer to read up on MAFS updates and Royal wedding preparations and then their blokes get sucked into their frivolity so that they can have some relations. It’s just how it is so go buy some property for said chicks and make them happy!

      • I’m disappointed in you reusa. Why hang around with gwalo chicks at all when there are so many very attractive Asian girls who already have investment properties, no interest in royalty and are always ready to party. Your perfect partners.

  4. Stephen Morris

    From this morning’s “Letters Fairfax Won’t Publish File“:

    17 April 2018

    The howling error in the Treasury-Home Affairs analysis (The Age, 17 April 2018) lies in its failure to consider the distribution of benefits.

    Even if one accepts the tendentious assumption that all new migrants are employed in higher skilled fields and are therefore more productive, the benefit of that flows to:

    a) the new migrants themselves in the form of higher wages; and

    b) their employers, to the extent that they capture a portion of the higher productivity.

    Given the recent discussions concerning the falling “natural rate” of unemployment, it is plausible that most benefit flows to the employers. But even if that were not the case, the analysis does not show any benefit flowing to existing Australian workers.

    For existing Australians workers to benefit from massive population growth it would be necessary to demonstrate:

    a) a positive externality flowing from the employment of new migrants (over and above what they themselves extract in the form of their supposedly higher wages) to increase the incomes of existing workers; and

    b) that that externality exceeded the sum of i) the external costs associated with providing the infrastructure for the increased population and ii) the intangible cost of increasing congestion.

    The Treasury-Home Affairs analysis hasn’t even begun to address that issue. Like so much “analysis” designed to support a pre-determined conclusion, it looks only at aggregates without breaking it down into the winners and losers.

    No-one is disputing that the owners of capital – in all developed countries – want high immigration to offset the poor demand growth arising from increasing inequality. The want to go on becoming richer. The question is whether existing citizens want to have their quality of life degraded to pay for a (possible) benefit to other people.

    Stephen Morris

    [To illustrate the point with an (admittedly extreme) example, one could imagine a policy under which existing Australian taxpayers were asked to pay for a high tech research facility cum luxury campus built in the middle of the Simpson Desert and then fill it with boffins from around the world who worked on some super-high value project. It might very well increase aggregate GDP. It might even increase per capita GDP. But it would provide absolutely no benefit to those who were called upon to bear the cost of it.]

    • Going by The Age website last night, Fairfax have gone into a panic to prop up the Big Australia policy they have spent the last decade promoting. Four stories on the website last night all promoting mass immigration

      • There is a massive campaign across all media channels to boost support for immigration atm. I don’t think it will make a bit of difference when the reality of mass immigration smashes people in the face every day.

  5. Morrison has form here. His commentary on negative gearing has been appalling. Australians expects better from their Treasurers. That’s why his career has stalled in this portfolio. His hectoring style is a turn off too.

    • Agree and everytime he says “Mum and Dad investors” with that smarmy smile, it makes me involantarily grind my teeth.

  6. what he calls permanent immigration is in large part just temporary. I last few years I met so many people (mostly well paid professionals) who left Australia after being here “permanently” for few years. They saved money and either returned to their home country where they can retire or moved to states or Europe where they can buy a house outright.
    In addition to high cost of everything, most importantly housing that will make them slaves for life they also complained about government not doing it’s job so people have to struggle with things that should be no hassle – daycare that doesn’t cost more than Harvard, local school spot for child with after school care, transport either roads or public that are not packed on Sunday mornings, university education that is still not completely sold off
    it’s basically immigrants running away because there are so many immigrants
    what it’s important to keep in mind is that once this “life beyond our means” ends in Australia and recession starts biting many many (hundreds of thousands, millions) of recent immigrants as well as well as many of people born here will leave

    • A lot of permanent migrants don’t live in Australia. Massive numbers of Chinese students get PR straight after their studies and then immediately move back to China to live.

    • I tend to agree that when there is a downturn an exodus of temporary workers is what will cause a sudden jump in vacancy rates and signs of overbuilding much like what’s happened in Perth at the end of the mining boom as workers left the state. Now we just have to wait for the downturn.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Zimbabwean over the road came to tell us yesterday that he’s leaving Oz. Moving to Jo’burg he is. Says Straya is a sh!t country now. Not anything like it was.

      Zimbabwe. Jo’burg. Straya is the sh!t place. Let that sink in for a moment.

      • Case closed then. Nothing more to say if a solitary Zimbabwean speaks thus.
        Should help the migration numbers though as presumably no one much will want to come here if we are worse than South Africa and on a par with Zimbabwe. They have been having negative migration rates for the last 20 years.

      • It will only take one Jo’burg mugging to get him back on the plane saying Oz is great! Jo’burg is sh*t.

  7. This must be a deliberate Govt tactic. Turnbull when he talked to Neil Mitchell reduced the problem to not being able to find a seat on a tram. Now Morrison again says the population explosion is also linked to. not being able to find a seat on public transport. So there you have it, the government communication strategy is to downplay the effects of the population explosion. Over development, stagnating wages, road congestion, environmental damage, stress on public services, none of that is happening. The main impact of the population explosion is lack of seats on public transport. By the way I think it’s pretty low to shift the greater part of the blame to foreign students. I expect this makes them more vulnerable to public backlash because going by the people piling in to comment on Fairfax there’s a lot of discontent out there. Meanwhile Shorten gets off scot free, yet to comment.

    • Shorten would comment if he disagreed. That’s now our problem – the only realistic alternative (yes, I’m cringing) is in bed with him on this issue.

    • Yes astrolin, certainly a deliberate government communication policy to respond with ‘crowded transport is visitors, students’ etc. It will have been workshopped to death by the PR/Comms staff and presented as the ‘talking points’ to be adhered to by ministers in interviews.

      Propaganda, lies, misinformation- such is the quality of our politicy.

  8. This isn’t lying guys, it’s wishful thinking.

    It’s not the public that Scomo is trying to convince, it’s the Liberal party.

  9. Perhaps Morrison is a liar.

    It could be worse: Australia’s Treasurer, the man with his hand on the levers, may actually believe what he is saying. If that is the case, we are in really big trouble. DBN!

  10. ‘More foreign students means more places for Australian students’????? No they don’t. Not one bit. Another blatant lie from Morrison.

  11. Even StevenMEMBER

    Leith – I hope you can get some airtime to refute such blatant lies. It is outrageously disrespectful to all Australians and calls his professional competency into question.

  12. seasonedcycling

    The main thing about money, is that it makes you do things you don’t want to do.

    Nobody wants to lie or obfuscate.

    Deep down, we all want to be decent people.

    But immigration is about big $$$

    BIG Australia is all about Big $$$

    A lot of lying will be required in its defence.

    Perhaps by those who don’t even understand on whose behalf they are lying.

    • “Deep down the MAJORITY of us want to be decent people”.

      Fixed. There’s plenty of people who couldn’t give a damn about others and a fair number of them who actually delight in profiting at the cost of others.

      • Its a damn shame that the majority of politicians are sociopaths and functional psychopaths.

  13. robert2013MEMBER

    A lot of the so-called skilled migrants are former international, “temporary” migrant students.

  14. Saw Scomo this morning.
    If I wasn’t so late for work due to terrible traffic I would have told him what I thought.

  15. In the May budget Scummo is going to announce a multi billion dollar infrastructure program that will provide faster travel times for XYZ, massive employment, lower hospital waiting times.

    This will all be forgotten by the end of May 2018.

    By May 2030, Australia’ll be 45 million people. Compliant, low wage earning and mostly Asian.

  16. The way NOM, immigration and population data is (misre)presented and analysed by educated Australian journalists, politicians etc. is shallow and simplistic, showing lack of data literacy and much bias confirmation.

    There is never an attempt to present all let alone mention other relevant factors well, while creating confusion round definitions and headlines looking for and/or suggesting a ‘solution’.

    For example, one question and creating need for context, if controlling NOM was possible by closing down any residency beyond 12 months, eg. knocking out a while swathe of temp visas, what would be the wider impact?

    Brexit gives a clue, after being wedged in on the supposed need to lower the ‘nebulous’ NOM, how does the govt. maintain the tax base (namely supporting pensions and healthcare) into the future backgrounded by permanent population and (baby boomer bubble) workforce ageing and transitioning to retirement, while existing retirees are living longer, with temporary residents told to f’off?

    Without significant numbers of net financial contributors how to maintain these services? Raise taxes? I doubt most of the upper age median vote would agree…