And the award for Australia’s worst immigration spruiker goes to…

By Leith van Onselen

60 Minutes’ excellent ‘Big Australia’ demolition featured Shane Geha, managing director of EG – “a leading real estate investment fund manager” . According to their website:

As founding Managing Director of EG’s Urban Planning business, Shane bears overall responsibility for all EG’s rezoning projects. Shane has extensive rezoning experience and brings a combination of practical know-how and value creation skills to projects he is involved in.

He was previously a director of a private company managing over AU$200 million in property development in NSW and the ACT.

Geha’s LinkedIn profile also tells us that he’s up to his neck in the ‘rezoning’ business:

His focus is working closely with clients on property uplift strategy and implementation and has worked on multiple rezoning projects including some of the largest land use changes in both size and value in Sydney and New South Wales.

Now that Geha’s vested interest has been exposed, it’s hardly surprising that he went out of his way to spin ‘Big Australia’ propaganda to 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett:

Liam Bartlett: “Do you need a lot of people to have a good city”?

Shane Geha: “Yes. In my opinion, the really great cities of the world have to have at least 6,7,8 million people”.

Liam Bartlett: “So, the critical mass for Sydney you think is about double what it is now?”

Shane Geha: “It would not be terrible if Sydney was double 5 million”…

So how does Geha explain the fact that only one city ranked in the top 10 of the 2019 Mercer Quality of Living Index:

Has an urban population of greater than 3 million people?

  1. Vienna: 2.6 million
  2. Zurich: 1.8 million
  3. Auckland: 1.7 million
  4. Munich: 6 million
  5. Vancouver: 2.5 million
  6. Dusseldorf: 1.2 million
  7. Frankfurt: 2.3 million
  8. Geneva: 1 million
  9. Copenhagen: 2 million
  10. Basel: 550,000

Back to 60 minutes:

Shane Geha: “You know something that really bothers me? When I was a child, we used to talk about the whinging poms… You know what I think the problem is, we’ve become the whinging poms. Everything’s a huge problem, everything’s an issue. We’ve got one of the luckiest countries in the world and one of the nicest cities (Sydney) by any measure. And we still can’t say “thankyou”, this is a great place. And it can be a greater place with more people”.

“You know what, you can fund double the infrastructure if you had more people”.

Righto. So because Sydney is a great city, we’ve gotta wreck it by stuffing it full with 10 million people, thus driving traffic congestion up even further:

And forcing future Australians to live in high-rise dog boxes:

Heck, even Infrastructure Australia projects that Sydney’s liveability will unambiguously decline irrespective of how the city builds-out, with worsening traffic congestion, longer commute times, and reduced access to schools, jobs, hospitals and green space as Sydney expands to a projected 7.4 million people by 2046 (let along to nearly 10 million by 2066):

Doubling Sydney’s population will obviously make economic and social infrastructure requirements much larger, thus adding to the problems.

Back to 60 Minutes:

Shane Geha: “Let’s look at the reverse. The reverse is have no immigration tomorrow, say.  What will happen is that we’ll have a stagnation in growth. We’ll have shrinking tax receipts… we will not be able to fund existing services. We’ll either have to borrow or tax more… I’m not sure that’s the way to go”?

Nice false binary there, Mr Geha. Why is the option zero migration or turbo-charged migration? How about sustainable migration – you know, like we had before John Howard opened the floodgates in the early-2000s?

Shane Geha obviously believes in ponzi economics. He conveniently takes no account of the extra costs created from having more people (e.g. infrastructure, public services, liveability and environment). He also ignores the fact that these migrants will also grow old, thereby requiring an ever larger immigration intake.

Besides, several other developed nations with stagnant/falling populations have actually enjoyed stronger per capita GDP growth than Australia.

Finally, here’s the knockout punch:

Liam Bartlett: “You seriously think that if we have high density in Sydney and Melbourne, everyone will have better quality of life”?

Shane Geha: “Let me give you the converse.  If we put people 50kms out, as we are doing at the moment in low density housing, it’s almost impossible to get the public transport to work to them”…

Liam Bartlett: “Shane, where do you live?”

Shane Geha: “I live in the Eastern Suburbs”

Liam Bartlett: “In a house”?

Shane Geha: “In a house”.

Liam Bartlett: “With a block”?

Shane Geha: “With a block”.

Liam Bartlett: “Not high density”?

Shane Geha: “But I’ve lived in high density up until that point”.

So here we have another growth ponziteer talking his own book.

Let’s be brutally honest here. The empirical evidence unambiguously shows that Australia’s 15-year experiment with mass immigration has been a cataclysmic failure, as evidenced by worsening quality of life across all key metrics in our major cities, which is projected to continue under the Big Australia policy according to Infrastructure Australia.

For Shane Geha to then advocate doubling down in order to fix the problems caused by mass immigration is akin to claiming the cure to alcoholism is drinking more alcohol.

All of which reminds me of Upton Sinclair’s famous quote:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist


  1. Mass immigration has coincided with massive budget deficits.

    Norway, with a population of less than 6 million, has the biggest sovereign wealth fund on the planet.

    Dubai has air conditioned bus stops and air conditioned train platforms! Does it have 10 million people? No. It has 3 million people. And basically all the foreigners are excluded from welfare.

    A lot of left wingers in Australia confuse demand for fundability. Increasing demand does not mean increased funding! In 1928, it was decided that Doncaster and Glen Waverley should get railway lines. 90 years of immigration later, Doncaster still does not have a railway line!

    The immigrants on $10/hour wages are not increasing the fundability of any infrastructure.

  2. Definitely agree but be careful with the Mercer Index as it is “conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments.” So we’re talking about a special class of expat. You know, like Joe Hockey and those whose rental allowances are usually more than most people’s before tax annual income.

    But back to Geha. If he really wants us to believe we can be a stripped down version on Tokyo or Osaka, we’re going to have to start ramping things up on the infrastructure.

    • HadronCollision

      Thanks for that comment.
      I was going to make a comment about CH and I realised you are right.
      I just applied for a 12 month job in Geneva and there are a lot of English only jobs in Geneva, Basel, Bern, Lausanne. WEF, WHO, Roche, Phillips etc

  3. Speaking of immigration can someone explain this chart of permanent migration.

    It appears to show that applicants from some countries are absolutely rocking the “points” system.

    If Australia really does operate a non-discriminatory points based system how are some countries applicants such complete winners and some countries such complete duds.

    What specific points are they top scoring in?

    Surely it cannot be English language?

    Are they really the only countries with the “skills” we need?

    Or they supplying us with the cheap skills we need?

    Is there some special weighting given to certain tertiary degrees (I.e. those from Australia). If so how is that non-discriminatory?

    That would mean we ARE discriminating against applicants from Europe and the US and other developed countries where people are unwilling to buy an “Aussie degree” as a golden ticket. Surely we are not believing our own BS about our degree mills.

    If someone could point me to some information on exactly how the points system “works” it would be much appreciated.

    The secrets to getting a “top score” may be very interesting.

    Those numbers look fishy.

    • We are constantly told that our non-discriminatory points system is best practice but what if it is rigged to discriminate in favour of certain countries?

      How is that not discriminating against other people from other countries on the base of race and ethnicity?

    • Why would many Europeans or Americans even want to come? They already are slaves in a developed country no need to move across the world to see how developed democratic neoliberalism looks like.

      • Avoiding the northern winters allows for a better quality of serfdom?

        Perhaps it is more likely that those that are selected are considered more likely, culturally, to accept a life of neoliberal serfdom.

        I find when interviewing Europeans, the last was from Belarus, they all talk about how hard it was to get in. Those from the two big Bingo winners tell me the opposite.

        How does a non-discriminatory immigration “points” system produce that result?

        If it is not non-discriminatory it is discriminatory and the discriminatory criteria requires some discussion.

        Does anyone have any links to an explanation?

      • As the husband of a migrant I can tell you from first hand experience the process of coming to Australia from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and much of Central Asia – even with a husband who has a security vet and very good contacts in the security world – is long and painful. On one occasion my wife came home from an interview with Immigration people in tears – my wife who by that stage was mother of an Australian [with passport] son. I complained directly to the then Ambassador and was told straight out they had no ability to change anything related to the Immigration personnel in Russia. I was also told that Russia was a ‘high risk’ migration zone and that this meant only a very small number of Russians would be allowed in, and that as the Moscow embassy handled (at that time – I believe it has changed) applications from much of Central Asia and Ukraine and Belarus, that limitation applied to those nations.

        My own view is that no nationality should comprise more than 10% of the total immigration intake in any given year.

      • Gunna,

        That is consistent with what the person from Belarus told me.

        So despite all the BS about “points” we actually have a discriminatory immigration process driven by policy objectives that are not stated.

        The smokescreen about “points” is critical to the politics of the current immigration program.

        In theory it was supposed to prevent favouritism being shown to particular groups but in practice it appears to be used to conceal the very type of favouritism it is supposed to avoid.

        Are you aware of any links that explain how the “points” system works and which “points” some countries are scoring so highly in? The absence of any links is probably revealing in itself.

        I am mystified how those top scoring countries could be topping a non-discriminatory points system having regard to the competition. What is the ratio of enquiries from countries to grants of permanent residency?

        Why I find this so interesting is that Leith and the others arguing for a return to the long term average, go to great lengths to argue that they support our current non-discriminatory points system.

        If that points system is not in fact non-discriminatory and is in fact biased towards particular groups or policy objectives, that would be an important point to make.

        1. A return to the long term average of approx 70,0000


        2. Introduction of a non-biased points system to ensure that the best candidates for immigration are selected. (outside of family reunion and other specialised intakes like the humanitarian intake)

        • Pfh007. You make great points. I’ve never thought about the points system actually being discriminatory. But it does seem to be. If so, this does need to change.

          It probably comes about because international students get additional points for studying in Australia, and these are mostly Chinese and Indians. Also, the proliferation of migration agents in these countries (esp India) helps them game the points system.

          Definitely worth looking into.

      • I would go even further.

        Every application to become an Australian permanent resident should be trackable on a national database, including where the funds supporting the application come from, what suburb/city in which they live and what they propose to do in Australia, as well as what (if any) funds they receive from their homelands. The only exceptions from this should be genuine refugees or people allowed into Australia due to security concerns in their homelands.

        The one group it should apply to first and foremost should be SIV holders, along with a trackable database to ensure public visibility of what their ‘investment’ benefit is bringing Australia.

        Chinese buyers tipped to search for property as significant investor visa program matures

        Because I think the real value of the SIV program is …..’not much’ ……

        and I know first hand that there are large numbers of well educated and potentially very economically valuable people – in places like Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc – who would contribute far more to Australia and Australia’s future than the passport shoppers we encourage with our current program.

      • this has also a lot to do with a massive network of Australian migration agents in some Asian countries – they know the system, all of the loopholes, ….
        Those few that apply by themselves from Eastern Europe have to learn all this stuff every time from the scratch. People in China and India just have to visit local agents, pay something and get student visa in few days.

      • DoctorX,

        For student visas that is probably the case but I am talking about permanent residency.

        I interview people from the two top countries who got PR without ever stepping foot in Australia.

        The person from Belarus said they had tried for years until they did a BS post grad degree and then got accepted.

        If doing a BS degree is the important factor that should be highlighted.

        At the moment the points system seems like it is rigged and gives points to stuff that is not publicly admitted.

      • I know 3 or 4 Russians who have migrated here via New Zealand.

        The ones who have the most straightforward access to Australia seem to be those from the IT world or those from the medicine end of the world. Ordinary everyday people without those specific skills – even if they are very well educated, as a lot of people from the former Soviet Union can be – seem to have a far more difficult time.

      • Gunna,

        I guess the point I am making is that the only way the “point” system could be producing such lopsided results is if there is positive discrimination in favour of those two countries.

        There are plenty of countries whose applicants could do very well on a points system but clearly they are not for some reason.

        There is a strong whiff of undeclared discrimination in our immigration program.

      • majority of permanent immigrants from Asia come first as students or workers and than apply for PR – they use Australian education and/or experience to fast-track permanent residency

        The visa categories with the largest component of places granted to persons outside Australia were:
        • Skilled Independent with 24,095 places;
        • Partner with 21,364 places; and
        • State and Territory Nominated visas with 17,452 places.
        The visa categories with the largest component of places granted to persons in Australia were:
        • Employer Sponsored with 29,738 places;
        • Partner with 18,435 places; and
        • Skilled Independent with 15,042 places.

      • doctorX,

        That is very interesting.

        “..• Skilled Independent with 24,095 places;..”

        These are the ones I am seeing and they generally have not studied in Australia. The ones I see are overwhelmingly from the two countries at the top of the list. Often even they seem puzzled that they got PR from just applying from home. Hard to believe that there is very little demand from some of the countries that appear down the list and get very few PR winners.

        “..The visa categories with the largest component of places granted to persons in Australia were:
        • Employer Sponsored with 29,738 places;
        • Partner with 18,435 places; and
        • Skilled Independent with 15,042 places…”

        Where are the PR grants to people who have studied in Australia – shouldn’t they be showing as PR grants to people in Australia? I assume they are the Skilled Independent. But that is only about 60% of the number scoring PR from outside Australia.

        Perhaps we need a real points based non-discriminatory system where the minimum point requirement merely gets you into the lottery and then it is purely luck of the draw.

        They could have separate barrels for different skill groups if that is considered desirable.

      • Here is the points calculator page for Australian skilled immigration.

        Presumably this is the only category that is relevant if you are not in a refugee, family reunion etc category

        The points allocated do not appear to offer ANY particular advantages to the big two winners of the PR Bingo sweepstakes.

        You need 60 points and age can get you half of them (30). No advantage there.

        Doing an Aussie degree only gets you 5 points so no clear advantage there.

        A high English language score can get up to another 20 so even without an aussie degree if you are young and can speak english (who cant) you can be up to 50 points without any sweat.

        Experience in a skilled occupation is very helpful but again no special advantage for the big winners. In my experience the people scoring PR from those top two countries have pretty non-existent experience in their home countries so that must not be the reason.

        Though is worth noting that the numbers of employer sponsored in doctorX was very high and that may be the route that the big two PR winners are exploiting.

        Perhaps some employers believe immigrants from some countries are better options for wage theft than others.?

    • Perhaps it is a simple case of being representative of proportionate demand from the various countries ?

  4. Our immigration program is integral (and fundamental) part of credit ponzi – we need immigrants not so much to work and be exploited via labour, we need them to get into a debt because local population is already maxed out. For new credit to flow in abundance we need new “debt free” people preferably from debt liking cultures

    math is simple: an immigrant working for $100k and renting, contributes to GDP and bankers profit waaay less (over a short period – the only period anyone cares about) than an immigrants who makes $50k and gets $500k mortgage.
    That’s why we don’t need debt averse Southern Europeans …

  5. And like clockwork – here’s Matthew Cranston squealing for his masters:

    Special turd-star for the muddying of the waters:

    However, net migration currently contributes 1 percentage point of annual population growth of 1.6 per cent – which is more than half of the 2.3 per cent annual economic growth. This means Australia has to grow GDP by more than 1.6 per cent per year to avoid a “GDP per capita recession”.

    . . . Wait, what?!

    • The magical GDP that takes no account of environmental degradation, no account of failing institutions and falling amenity. These people really are shameless.

    • “An annual drop of 30,000 people to Australia’s immigration would shave a 0.13 percentage point off economic growth, place further downward pressure on house prices and dry up much-needed skilled labour.”

      typical MSM baloney. 0.13% ….. wow.

      • I would have though the appropriate response to a 0.13% reduction in GDP would be BFW, as in Big Whoopee.

  6. A very bizarre account of how immigration intake was decided, was by Peta Credlin on one of TV shows. She was in budget forecast meetings with ScoMo. There is a budget and a GDP number they are trying to hit directly dependent on num of people. (Complexity of this sounds like a year 11 excel spreadsheet.) No planning of infrastructure, hospitals or schools. This is supported by ScoMo’s first reaction when the number started being questioned last year – ‘There is going to be a budget hole if we lower migration.’ Leith broke their little excel formula with introduction of ‘gdp per capita’ 🙂

    • Which is why Matthew Cranston from AFR gets the turd-star for muddying the waters of what GDP and GDP-per-capita is: “We can’t make up *those* numbers look good, but we surely can f*ck with everyone’s mind and confuse them in the process, which is just as good”

  7. What really makes me feel sick is when these pundits keep repeating the mantra that the alternative to High immigration is NO immigration?!? Even Dick Smith is only proposing a reduction to 75-100k per year. And, even if NOM dropped to zero tomorrow, the large number of immigrants who arrived between 2000 and 2019 are having 3 kids on average. Just building houses for all these extra kids as they grow up will drive urban expansion for many years into the future.

  8. And, even if NOM dropped to zero tomorrow, the large number of immigrants who arrived between 2000 and 2019 are having 3 kids on average

    They can’t be – Australian TFR is at 1.74, almost equal lowest of all time, less than the norm in the ’80s and ’90s. If all those extra people were having extra babies, we’d have higher TFR than we used to.

    • Immigrants might be having more kids than average, even if the overall rate is 1.74. Actually the fertility rate has been remarkably stable since 1976. Also if we reduced NOM to zero we would still keep growing for a couple of decades as we would still have momentum until the death rate kicks in.

      • we have quite old population so growth would quickly stop because death rate is about to skyrocket (we have 1.3m over the age of 75 and almost 4m over 65 so clearly we’ll have many more deaths per year than current 169k)
        life expectancy at the age of 65 doesn’t increase much

      • I was replying to yogiman, who seems to be implying that Australia’s TFR has been increased by the extra migration. It hasn’t.
        The fertility rate for o/s born women was 1.68 in 2017, compared with 1.76 for Australian born women.

  9. It’s time for the progressive left to acknowledge that their support for extreme population growth is just support for this, and in all practical effect, support for extreme neoliberal growth economics.

    The extreme growth economics is trashing our environment, trashing our amenity and crushing our infrastructure and institutions.

    The progressive policy should be “we will support higher population growth when there is evidence of actual progress in mitigation of the very real impacts of high growth economics.”

    • while Labor has been know as champions of neoliberalism since 80s, The Greens became hard core neoliberal party especialy since Di Natale took over.

      They are all fake lefties.
      It’s interesting that during communist period some of the eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Romania, …) were extremely nationalist, while others were very internationalist (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, USSR, …)
      left – right orientations is purely based on economic policies, not on social issues or nationalism/internationalism

      so what you call “progressive left” should be called social-liberal internationalist economic neoliberals

      • I wouldn’t disagree with that, but the world ‘left’ has a well understood colloquial meaning within our cultural discourse (Greens, Labor et al as the political institutions representing current progressive values within our system). That is, we can use that term with a normative meaning when shooting the breeze on a blog.

  10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes

    • It’s interesting, also interesting is that the progressive ‘fair distribution’ rider is now inserted on a modern take on this research:
      “Now, interpretations of Calhoun’s work has changed. Inglis-Arkell explains that the habitats he created weren’t really overcrowded, but that isolation enabled aggressive mice to stake out territory and isolate the beautiful ones. She writes, “Instead of a population problem, one could argue that Universe 25 had a fair distribution problem”
      Read more:

      it would be good to see what evidence there is to the case that ‘fair distribution’ has an impact. It certainly reinforces that at the very least ‘fair distribution’ policy needs to come well before high population policy.

      • Fair distribution isn’t going to happen until we’ve completely mastered matter and energy to the point we can turn electricity into a roast chicken and vice versa, making “money” redundant.

        Any idealist attempt before that point is going to fail the same way every other attempt has.

        Their point, though academically interesting, and probably correct, is mooted by reality.

      • It could be argued that we don’t need to even consider whether fair distribution is possible, we only need to consider whether it is happening now.

    • Is that what we want?

      If the whole world had the population density of Japan, there would be ca. 44b humans.

      I don’t think any but the most extreme pessimistic projections on global population get within a bull’s roar of that, ever.

      Middle of the range is about 9-11b from memory. That would require the world to have a population density somewhere in the range of Ireland (the Republic) at around 70/km^2 to Spain (90/km^2).

      The point that people don’t seem to realise when it comes to dramatic reductions in population is this: there’s only two real ways to effectively do it both in terms of number and timeframe: murder (or murder by proxy) and forced sterilisation on a global scale (which is likely to involve a great deal of murder alongside it).

  11. The developer effectively in my view described a ponzi scheme in my opinion. We have to keep the intake growing in order for everything to work? A ponzi scheme then? If that is the case… then we are in much, much worse trouble than I could have imagined.