Should Australia cut tourists, not migrants?

By Leith van Onselen

If you want a textbook example of how Australian academia has lost its credibility, look no further than the below analysis from University of Western Sydney Economics Professor Raja Junankar. From Yahoo Finance:

One of the main arguments cited for reducing the number of migrants is the amount of overcrowding, congestion and pressure that migrants place on Australia’s infrastructure.

But, according to UNSW Business School adjunct professor Raja Junankar, if we were serious about tackling the issue of overcrowding, we ought to go further.

“If people believe that Australia is overcrowded and congested, we should also consider cutting back on international tourism and the growth of international students in Australian universities!” Junankar wrote in his paper titled ‘Is Australia overcrowded? Immigration and International Tourism’, obtained by Yahoo Finance…

“Without international tourism our hotel and restaurant industries would be suffering from a lack of demand and many would have to close down and declare bankruptcy,” Junankar wrote.

Between 1997 and 2015, the number of international tourists rose from 4.2 million to 7.8 million. “It is clear that international tourists make a huge impact on Australian society and economy.”

However, tourists also impose costs on Australian society in terms of congestion and the consumption of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, according to the professor.

“Not only do they add to crowded public transport, demand for housing, such as Airbnb, they also consume environmental resources, such as the water hotels spend on frequently washing their sheets”…

Put another way, Australia’s international tourists were using up the same amount of resources as 900,000 migrants.

“If the argument is that we should cut down on immigration because Australia is too crowded and congested then we would have to introduce policies to curtail international tourism,” he said.

“However, that is clearly not a sensible policy as many of our domestic industries rely on international tourism. Similarly, we should not consider policies to curtail immigration as it would be harmful for the economy!”

“Immigration and international tourism both have positive effects on the Australian economy,” Junankar concluded.

In all my years of covering this issue, this is one of the worst analysis I have read, and it comes from an economics professor of all people!

First, international tourists typically stay in Australia for a few weeks and then leave, whereas permanent settlers stay, have children, and add to Australia’s population base. Tourists also don’t use public services like health, education and social services. So to compare one group with the other is ridiculous.

Second, the Professor has only looked at short-term arrivals, not net short-term movements (which includes Aussies overseas). If he had done this, he would quickly have discovered that while short-term arrivals have boomed to over 9 million people annually, so too has short-term departures of Australians (over 11 million):

In fact, net short-term visitor movements into Australia are negative. Not only is it false to apportion any of the population pressures being felt in our cities to short-term visitors like tourists, net short-term movements are actually relieving Australia’s overall population pressures:

Third, it is Australia’s turbo-charged permanent migrant intake that is the primary driver of Australia’s manic population growth:

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:

To add insult to injury, 86% of these migrants (1.11 million) settled in Australia’s capital cities over the five years to 2016 – a pattern that was replicated in 2017-18:

Sure, temporary migrants have also boomed, and many would be captured in the above Census figures (provided they meet the 12/18 month rule). But they increased by a relatively modest 400,000 over the same five-year period Census period:

Therefore, the fundamental driver of Australia’s population increase is permanent migrants. Again, they stay in the country and also have children (then captured as ‘natural increase’). Thus, permanent migrants continually add to Australia’s population base both directly and indirectly.

If the permanent migrant intake was hypothetically reduced to zero then, over time, NOM and by extension Australia’s population would barely increase (because all temporaries would have to go home):

The statistics speaks for itself.

[email protected]

Leith van Onselen


  1. blindjusticeMEMBER

    Here is an unconventional view…….its hypocritical to encourage Australia as a tourism destination since anyone who gets here has to burn a fair whack of jet fuel

  2. BabundaMEMBER

    it comes from an economics professor of all people!

    Don’t be fooled – ‘adjunct’ is just an honorary title, a euphemism for ‘pretend’. They’ll give him access to the library but not a job. He’s a hack.

  3. That liar said the same thing in Aug 2018:

    That liar knows what is going on:

    7 MAY 2019

    he says, the business community typically approves of immigration because it provides cheaper employment when compared with Australian workers, and therefore companies make higher profits.

    people see tourists as short-term visitors who are going to disappear after a short time, so they won’t affect life out here.

  4. AtaraxianMEMBER

    From the good Professors profile on “The Conversation” site…

    “Professor P.N. (Raja) Junankar is Honorary Professor, Industrial Relations Research Centre, University of New South Wales; Emeritus Professor, University of Western Sydney; and Research Fellow of the Institut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (IZA) in Bonn, Germany.

    Prof Junankar was born and brought up in India, and his university education was in the UK. He obtained a B.Sc.(Econ) and M.Sc.(Econ) from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Essex.”

    And his immigration/tourism argument represents the level of academic rigour achieved in modern universities?


  5. Professor Raja Junanka eh? I worked for a few years at a university in a school that was full of Indian “academics”, so the rigour of this analysis is unsurprising to me.

    They also treated me like sh1t because I was an IT support person and not a peer or superior who needed sucking up to. I despised the lot of them.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      Indian bigotry to those they consider beneath them, imagine my surprise.


  6. haroldusMEMBER

    Should Australia cut tourists, not migrants?

    LItle bit of this, little bit of that, quite a lot of the other!

  7. The Conversation tends to attract those academics originally from the sub-continent who try really hard to dispell negative views on migrants. Another one was claiming migrants are healthier then Australian-born.

  8. I would like to politely & gently correct the MB view that if the PR intake was reduced to zero then over time the PR intake and thus the overall migrant intake would reduce.

    MB – “If the permanent migrant intake was hypothetically reduced to zero then, over time, NOM and by extension Australia’s population would barely increase (because all temporaries would have to go home):“

    That’s not at all borne out by the statistics, trend or how the visa categories & migrant intake trafficking works.

    We have in Australia today 2.561 million TR & NZ SCV at at March 2019.

    This is up 130,000 or 5.3% since March 2018 / source VisaSure & the DHA / ABF quarterly data published as links here before.

    Over 26% or one quarter of these 2.561 million don’t need a PR as they are Permanent stay (660,000 NZ SCV) who now include 40% non NZ born third world unskilled via the NZ transit lounge & passport stamp.

    The remainder are:
    Very Long stay semi permanent visas – up to 9 years for a foreign student of partner (712,000),
    Or 5 years with work rights for a bridging protection visa (194,000)
    3-5 years for a so called ‘skilled or sponsor visa (155,000),
    18 months plus 1 or more year extension working holiday (135,000)
    overstayer( permanent at 65,000)
    and so on.

    So not only is the number of TR / SCV now much larger than entire last decade’s of mostly third world unskilled PR (1.9 million), but even the yearly increase of TR / SCV onshore is getting close to the entire PR migrant yearly intake.

    The TR also ‘ visa churn’ – the DHA dutifully reports on this. The migrant visa holders extend onto new visa category if they haven’t secured the PR.
    The DHA report this as ‘pathways’, over 90% of the migrant TR extend or churn into new visa categories, plus the new intake. So more coming in plus longer & longer durations onshore.
    Foreign student to post grad 9 years
    Or skilled sponsor to bridging spousal etc 5 to 7 years. Or working holiday then back as student then skilled and 6-12 years.

    In the very rare case they are forced to finally exit – they come back in on yet another visa (tourist or visitor or via NZ as the default to re-enter as a NZ SCV).

    So the volume and duration of the TR / SCV is basically permanent (NZ SCV) or very long term & basically permanent.

    My point.
    Setting the ‘PR to zero’ does nothing.

    It’s the TR & NZ SCV cohort that needs fixing & set to zero. As outlined below.

    And that also include ‘Tourists & visitors’.

    Most Australians don’t know that the overwhelming volume of so called ‘tourist/visitors’ are now Chinese, Indian, South East Asian or Middle Eastern who enter to ‘stay with ‘family or friends’.

    They don’t stay in hotels, they don’t do tourist activities, they don’t spend money here, and a huge proportion are only here to work & live illegally.

    They add further into the vast Sydney or Melbourne enclaves in the foreign run migrant trafficking. Chinese & South East Asian labourers factory workers, Asian end of life vice Workers, cooks cleaners, nannies in otherwise unaffordable childcare, ‘helpers’ in the migrant family business & so on.

    How many and where?
    We have 8.8 million tourist visitors.
    Dominated by Chinese, Indian & South East Asians on very long stay and repeat stay visas.
    At any one time we have over 1.6 million Tourist Visitors onshore and the vast majority – up to 1.3 million are living in private shared accommodation in the Sydney or Melbourne migrant enclaves.

    The parliamentary submission on migrant trafficking in 2015 estimated over 5% of these foreigner entrants were only here to work & live illegally.

    That’s a conservative 440,000 third world unskilled migrants as full time or full year equivalents in visa breach living & working illegally.

    So all up, over the last year we had 3 million migrant guestworkers full year TR, NZ SCV or Tourist Visitor visa holders working illegally onshore.
    And since 2015 that proportion of illegally working tourist visitors has only increased.

    By City & concentration.
    At 87% TR/SCV (ABS) and at least 90% illegally working Tourist Visitors in Sydney/ Melbourne.

    🔹Sydney pop 5.2 million people
    🔻TR / NZ SCV 1.32 million
    🔻Tourist/ visitors (just the cohort working illegals not the full number) 0.22 million
    ➡️ Total 1.54 million third world migrant non residents
    29% – 3 people out of every 10 people in Sydney is a non resident.

    🔹Melbourne pop 5.0 million
    🔻TR / SCV 1.01 million
    🔻Illegally working tourist visitors 0.18 million
    ➡️Total 1.17 million
    23% getting close to 1 in every 4 people.

    Elsewhere in Australia.
    Outside Sydney/Melbourne, pop 15 million.
    TR / SCV 0.351 million 12% of TR / SCV)
    Illegally working tourist visitor 40k
    Total 0.391 million.
    2.6% or 1 in 39 people.

    And highly concentrated in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Perth & other regional cities as a ‘mini me’ recreation of the Sydney & Melbourne issue.

    ‘Setting the PR to zero’ does nothing.

    Not when we have 3 million NZ SCV permanent stay or very long stay TR churn plus long stay repeat stay ‘Tourist Visitors’.
    In fact they are over 1.5 times or 157% of the entire last decade ( 1.9 million) of PR intake !

    Our broken borders and the vast migrant visa fraud & labour trafficking won’t be fixed by setting the PR intake to zero.

    All it does is increase the volume of migrant & trafficking via the permanent stay NZ SCV loophole or the very long stay TR visa alibis & churn.

    🔹A Royal Commission is needed.

    Forced by the Australian people – to strip migrant intake & visa policy & settings of from the government (any political party in government) and place these under an Australian People’s representative authority.

    The DHA / ABF & the political party in government are then only responsible for the strict enforcement of these independently derived policy & settings.

    And first thing to fix?

    The TR / SCV & tourist visitor illegals.
    Start with
    1 – Visa & COE enforcement & no education course if available free online or in the migrants home country. 400,000 TR and 440,000 or more illegal working Tourist Visitors- self exit.

    2 – Removal of work rights from all foreign students & partners. Proof of funds for the full visa duration plus compulsory reporting of activities & income plus location & accommodation, rent paid & to who exactly with ATO supervision.
    Over 550,000 of 712,000 of the foreign students & ‘partners’ will self exit.

    3 – Remove all skilled visas (150,000 primary & secondary) & all bridging protection visas are only applied for from offshore or in a restricted zone with no work rights (196,000). 30 day limit on appeal decisions.
    330,000 will self exit

    4 – Remove Aust / NZ SCV visa entitlement from all non Aust or NZ born.
    Over 260,000 non NZ born third world unskilled SCV will exit back to NZ plus the 290,000 queued up in NZ pending the passport stamp can’t enter.

    Total who will self exit
    1.8 million.

    That’s a lot of jobs recovered & wages growth of up to 6.8% once the huge illegally working migrant guestworker black economy onshore is removed.

    It’s socially desirable as well.
    We now have 10.7% unemployment (Roy Morgan April 2019) with 1.5 million Australian unemployed & another 1.3 million seeking work.

    That’s also a lot of ex Australian modest housing recovered (1.8 million migrant guestworkers at 6 per dwelling is 300,000 dwellings)- recovered & cleansed to house 1 million Australians, 116,000 who today are permanent homeless & 360,000 without any affordable housing.

    That’s also a lot of congestion removed.
    Over 400,000 old vehicles & migrant guestworker drivers on international drivers licences taken off our Sydney & Melbourne road’s.

    It’s 1.8 million less migrant guestworkers congesting our trains & buses.

    Education quality would improve and be affordable by families and our youth.

    Our hospitals & public services would not be overloaded by hundreds of thousands of non residents overloading it or with the widespread ‘borrowed Medicare cards’ migrant ‘medical tourism’ and the endemic PBS drug theft to resell overseas.

    Pollution & emissions would reduce.
    We would probably met our emissions targets with no other action needed.

    Our dams, power & infrastructure would have the capacity to support the cities population.

    Major wasteful & misguided Australian taxpayer funded public infrastructure projects can be scrapped.

    Tax per individual worker could be lowered, but would increase overall as the large cash in hand migrant guestworker black economy is stripped away and Australians/PR recover jobs, higher wages & make a tax contribution.

    The pension age could be reduced.

    Newstart & welfare support could be increased for Australians & PR.

    The cost of living, housing and everything else would reduce.

    … Just by taking control of the visa settings & policy and making some very simple enforcement or minor changes.

    And the PR intake (especially genuinely skilled & also genuine refugees that can assimilate) could be increased.

    That would be a far better solution for Australia.