Budget exposes Coalition’s fake immigration cut

By Leith van Onselen

Ever since the Morrison Government announced that it would cut Australia’s permanent migrant intake to 160,000 in order to “relieve congestion in the cities”, MB has declared it a fake cut. This view is based on the fact that while the permanent intake has been reduced moderately, the government has opened the floodgates to a variety of temporary work visas, increased temporary old-age parental visas by 15,000 a year, and has allowed the number of migrants on bridging visas to swell.

Well, last night’s Budget has exposed the Coalition’s purported immigration cut as being a big lie.

While Budget Paper 2 does indeed report a small fall in Australia’s planned permanent migrant intake to 160,000:

Buried deep in Budget Paper 3 is the below projection of increased net overseas migration (NOM):

As you can see, NOM over the entire forward estimates is projected to be much higher than the latest number of 240,000 reported by the ABS.

Not surprisingly, then, populations across the major jurisdictions are projected to swell, with NSW projected to add nearly 600,000 people over the next four years and VIC around 650,000 people:

With its staunch refusal to genuinely lower immigration, the Coalition made its job of winning the upcoming election near impossible.

Public opinion has overwhelmingly shifted towards lowering immigration, as evidenced by a conga-line of recent opinion polls:

  • Australian Population Research Institute: 54% want lower immigration;
  • Newspoll: 56% want lower immigration;
  • Essential: 54% believe Australia’s population is growing too fast and 64% believe immigration is too high;
  • Lowy: 54% of people think the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high;
  • Newspoll: 74% of voters support the Coalition Government’s cut of more than 10% to the annual permanent migrant intake to 163,000 last financial year;
  • CIS: 65% in the highest income decile and 77% in the lowest believe that immigration should be cut or paused until critical infrastructure has caught up;
  • ANU: Only three out of 10 Australians believe the nation needs more people;
  • Newspoll: 80% of NSW voters do not want the state’s population to increase.

Not only would it have been sound policy to significantly lower immigration, given the severe indigestion being experienced in the major cities (let alone damage to the natural environment), but there would also have been several political advantages for the Coalition, namely:

  • It would have wedged Labor on housing affordability making negative gearing cuts more scary for voters now and pushing house prices down further when the reform is introduced.
  • It would wedged Labor on wages and helped counter its inequality agenda.
  • It would wedged Labor on national security and further exposed the scandal around Labor links to the Chinese Communist Party.
  • It would wiped out One Nation, which currently owns the lower immigration debate among conservative voters.
  • If Labor does win the upcoming election, it would have forced it to explicitly raise the migrant intake back up (rather than merely maintain it), which would be very unpopular among voters.

Refusing to follow the wishes of the Australian people and genuinely lower immigration is a major strategic blunder that the Coalition will pay for at the ballot box.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


    • Strange Economics of IO and NGMEMBER

      People Gotta stop worrying about pesky facts.
      Its all about perceptions and belief – just repeat loudly.

      Official immigration rate down – Tick. (Actually another 100k per year says Treasury? – keep that unpublished).
      Fix congestion – a few newroads – Tick. (Actually needs 10 times as many to have any reduction).

      So Ready for Election story- Tick !

      In the US Trump they have fact checked Trump 100’s of times and it has no affect. The NY Times is still trying..

      • You mean Washington Post?

        WP lies about “skilled” immigration:

        27 Mar 2019

        Trump says he wants skilled immigrants. He’s about to stop 70,000 from working.

        the spouses of H-1B visa holders. Denying them to chance to work is gratuitous — and it will cost all of us.


        lol lol lol

        Oh no! Trump prefers to give jobs to American women instead of the wives of 457 visa staff!

        Washington Post peddles globalist lies all the time.

      • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

        Noting in Australia spouses of 457 also can work
        (and not even in skilled visa so called shortage categories)
        thus doubling the numbers..

        Part of the result no doubt why treasury estimate 260K (not the headline 160k ) per year…

  1. I don’t see how they’ll pay for it at the ballot box if the other major party is offering nothing different.
    Yes, I agree they’ll lose the election, but not because of this.

      • kannigetMEMBER

        I dont believe they want to win. I dont think the NLP wanted to win in 2007, Howards friends ran the worst campaign ever and it all felt a little tokenistic. Rudd was backed by all the papers as well…. The NLP had to know the GFC was coming and knew they had given away all the ammunition in middle class welfare. It looked to me like they just handed the government to the ALP so they could run around claiming the resultant debts were labors fault.

        This budget and election campaign ( I know, not officially started but they have been campaigning none the less) all feel the same, token gifts to the masses, no real answers to the problems. Tokens statements etc. and a mythical surplus that is highly dependant on resource prices that cant be sustained log term…. They just dont seem to want to win and are setting up a poison chalice.

        For that reason I would like to see them actually win. As this is almost completely unpalatable My only hope is the core group in power at the moment dont get reeelcted and overall the party does not get enough primary votes to get any decent money from the AEC and go bankrupt.

      • UE: I know you are pretty well connected. Do your sources say that they actually considered a big cut but deliberately decided against it?

      • kanniget – you are right about the Libs running dead in the 2007 election. I remember it was expected that both Costello and the mad monk would step up as the next generation of leaders but both put in shockers. Abbott as good as went missing after having his pants pulled down by Nicola Roxon. The fact that so many of the Libs have decided not to contest this election suggests a similar malaise is upon ’em.

        I suspect that the primary function of the coalition now is to set heaps of booby traps and landmines in the hope of destablising the incoming Labor government. If they do their job well enough it will be fertile ground for the second rising of the the monk.

      • UE – Labor wont have to actively do anything for there to be a drop in immigration numbers, the worsening economy will do much of the heavy lifting.

  2. We need to be like Dubai and never give citizenship to the farm workers shown in the 60 Minutes episode.

    Just deport them every 12 years and bring in a new batch.

    The farmer advertised in the Manila Times? Manila is a city. Once the farm workers are given Aussie citizenship, they will move to a…city.

    • hareebaMEMBER

      Jacob. What do you propose the farmer do to get local born and bred staff? He did try.

      • The farmer already has foreign workers. Why should those foreigners be allowed to move to Sydney?

        People move to Dubai to work for $5/hour knowing full well that they will never be given an Emirati passport. But they keep coming over to Dubai and keep getting deported when they become too old to work. Why not be like Dubai?

        How does Holland get by? In 1960, AUS had less people than Holland and now AUS has 8 million more people than Holland!

  3. The immigration debate isn’t really about racism or even economics anymore, it’s about whose country this is. Repeatedly I have been told (particularly by more recent UK migrants) that this isn’t really my country. It’s really the aboriginal’s. “Our” elites (many of them are foreign) use this notion to justify high immigration. Post-colonial and post-war white guilt makes the majority accept it, to the point where my people are no longer the majority. My people have sold our children’s inheritance, and our children’s children’s, to foreigners at knock down prices. It is both hateful and shameful, arguably more so than racism.

    • fitzroyMEMBER

      “Knock down” assumes that they have to pay anything. Money is given to whoever turns up. One thing certain sure you and I will be paying for it.

    • hareebaMEMBER

      All you pussies that deny being racist. You are ALLLLLLL full of sheep.

      There are certain cultures and with that races i don’t particularly admire or warm to. I still respect them as human beings … but that is it.

      I would argue that is a somewhat natural disposition to be wary of different races and cultures. What is the big faaarking deal about that?

      The whole debate about immigration has this ever present over arching notion and discourse that if you don’t embrace every faaaaarkkken culture and race you are less than virtuous and sub human. Well FM.

      No wonder caaarnts like Trump, Latham, Le Penn and whoever else has the balls to speak what many think have appeal.

      So yeah …. I am racist.

    • Hope is not a strategy. Unfortunately. I doubt they get anywhere. The coming de-leveraging and domestic financial crisis (DFC) might be the treatment we need to reduce immigration.

    • CanuckDownUnder

      They should be calling every media organisation in the country exposing this Liberal hypocrisy but doing so might make them extremist, offensive or fringe.

  4. Denis413MEMBER

    • it would have locked in lower GDP growth, causing an adjustment to housing, and possibly collapsing the whole system.

    There is no way they can do it. Better to hear the squabbles of the common man about overcrowding then be the party blamed for crashing the Aust. economy. Yes, I understand the adjustment is likely to be sharp and painful but short lived, but try explaining that to 10-15% of the unemployed population.

    Captured system, with feedback loops a plenty.

  5. 47,732 family stream places in 2019-2020?????

    That is a hell of a lot of Indian grannies headed straight from the arrivals hall at Sydney airport to the nearest Centrelink office then public hospital.

  6. What a scam. If NOM ie expected to remain at about 265,000 for each of the next 5 years, and the permanent intake is about 160,000, then there must be more than 100,000 long-term (ie stay more than 12 months and so counted in the population) temps incoming each year. But as MB has previously noted, the temps are supposed to eventually leave so unless the number of long-term temps is to grow massively each year, one would expect NOM to approach 160,000 over the period. But it doesn’t, therefore about 100,000 migrants on temporary visas must be given permanent residency every year! I must be missing something because this would be too blatant to be true, surely?