Peter McDonald: Labor to welcome 2 million elderly migrants

By Leith van Onselen

In the wake of Dr Bob Birrell’s startling report on Labor’s proposed uncapped visa for parents of existing migrants, Melbourne University demography professor, Peter McDonald, has warned that 1.5 million to 2 million migrant Australian families could seek to bring their elderly parents to Australia under Labor:

Melbourne University population expert Peter McDonald estimated that 1.5-2 million migrant Australians could be interested in Labor’s visa and predicted an early rush to take advantage of its generosity before a likely tightening of the rules by a future government.

Under Labor’s policy, each migrant family would be permitted to bring up to four elderly parents (i.e. two per spouse). This means that Australia could be looking at millions of elderly migrant arrivals.

Moreover, without policy adjustment, numbers would skyrocket over time as each additional permanent migrant would be permitted to bring their elderly parents into Australia – effectively a ‘buy one, get three policy’.

The irony in all this is that Peter McDonald has falsely argued for a strong immigration program to mitigate an ageing population. Now this rationale is being obliterated by Labor, whose immigration policy will unambiguously age Australia and destroy the federal budget.

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  1. Say goodbye to public health care under a treasonous Labor government. I’ve witnessed the negative effects under the current appalling immigration scheme. It’s hard to think it could get worse, but it will.

    All labor had to do was not act crazy, and they couldn’t even manage that.

  2. Leith, you desperately need to update the maths. If 2 million migrants want to bring their parents we’re looking at 6-8 million old folk flooding in.

  3. This is serious. The end of the welfare state here.
    And barely a whimper.

    Dont know whether to just leave but where? USA? Am not paying tax for this if I can help it

    • Death of welfare state will also be death of Australia as a desirable location to migrate to.
      I guess migrants who might be able to bring in their parents will vote for this policy at this election, and then vote the other way immediately their parents get here to get the drawbridge pulled up.

  4. My guess is that this will rapidly become a non-core promise after the election.
    If not, the results could be spectacular…

  5. This seems like some sort of handbrake at least:

    Last night, Labor’s campaign headquarters said the new visa would apply the Coalition’s minimum taxable income of $83,454 for migrant families, thereby limiting demand to households earning above that figure.

    Both visas would require­ health cover for visiting parents and debt guarantees.

    • The ALP are being Abbottesque in their promises from Opposition trying to be all things to all people.
      Bring your parents at minimal cost and with no wait times is the message to the migrant heavy electorates. A few restraints announced to stifle any building disquiet in the mainstream.
      They can taste victory and will say and do anything to gain it.

    • @Jason

      There are many businesses in Sydney and Melbourne that are flipped every 3 or so years by the Chinese wanting Australian visas. Immigration lawyers and accountants are fully aware of this but the ATO is blind because tax is paid so no red flags raised.

      They pay more tax than they should for the 3 or so years and qualify for permanent residency, there after the can do as they wish. They will just up the figure to whatever is needed to qualify. Money is not an issue.

      They sell the “business” to new immigrants; rinse and repeat.

  6. BoethiusMEMBER

    Judith Sloan notes that it is not yet clear what health and pension entitlements will be available to these visa holders at this stage. But Productivity Commission (2016) gives insight into the cost of the current parent visa system.

    If PC (2016) is a relevant guide, and Bob Birrell’s estimates are realized, then this policy could cost each Australian household about $7,700 in the first three years alone.

    Bob Birrell’s report estimates that the parent visa inflow in the first three years could be 200,000.

    The Productivity Commission (2016) estimates the present value of the fiscal costs of parent visa holder in 2015/16 at $335,000 – $410,000. Let’s take the average, and say $372,500. Updating by three years of inflation in the cost of health and aged care, pensions etc. ( say 2% p.a.) and we have $395,300 per parent visa holder in 2018/19.

    Bob Birrell’s report says there will be a contribution of $2,500 for five years. It is unclear whether this is per year or total. Let’s assume per year, so the total contribution is $12,500 (=5 x $2,500) per parent visa holder.

    This makes the net fiscal cost in present value terms $382,800 (=$395,300 – $12,500) per parent visa holder.

    Bob Birrell estimates that the policy will cause an inflow in the first three years of 200,000 persons. The net present value of the fiscal cost of this is $76,560 m. (=200,000. x $0.3828 m.).

    The number of households in Australia is approximately 10 m.

    Hence the cost to the average Australian household of this policy in the first three years is approximately $7,700.

    • BubbleyMEMBER

      One factor not taken into consideration – how much money are the kids remitting back to their parents each month?

      Maybe part of the plan is to ensure money earned in Australia stays in Australia.

      But its still a stupid plan.

      • We could always get our migrants from the UK (which has a diverse population so that will shut down the cries of ‘racialist’), who are more likely not to remit their earnings back overseas.

        What do they expect with importing people from Phillipines, India or China?

    • DominicMEMBER

      Relax. We can just print the money apparently.

      It’s all over the media and academics approve, so it must be true.

  7. The population is ageing! We need higher immigration to get more workers in aged care!
    *raises immigration*
    Immigrants are allowed to bring their parents.
    *population ages*
    The population is ageing! We need higher immigration to get more workers in aged care!

    Aged care lobby loves this.

    • JunkyardMEMBER

      I guess that’s why Bupa and Lend Lease are buying up all the aged care. One way or another all that property wealth is going to transfer to giant corporates.

  8. reusachtigeMEMBER

    If you all believe in this issue you must use it as a powerful source of hatred to direct at the destruction of Loser Shorten!

  9. TighterandTighter

    Here’s a thought
    Perhaps Labor knows immigration must come down
    But to do will see hordes of SJW roll out the racialist canard
    So they prepose something so preposterously bad in the other direction, even usually pro Big AU pundits like our Very Good Professionally Doctoring Donuts and Demographics Liz and the above, are so shocked they indirectly advocate against their usual position.

    And so Labor can go Ah-Ha, we woz wrong, we won’t do this at all, and it shifts the discussion into rational reduction territory

    • I think you’re crediting the people who sent Toyota etc packing with a lot more brains than they’ve got. Mind you, if ANYONE is voting for any of the 3 major parties I’d have to recommend a full frontal lobotomy…

    • “Good Professionally Doctoring Donuts and Demographics Liz and the above, are so shocked they indirectly advocate against their usual position.”
      ýeah nah, more like…..” ooo how awsumly luvly lets make it 1st cuzns too, dont want to be otherist cousinist racialist”

  10. Watch as these ten year visas transfer to permanent residency and the full benefits thereafter (pensions and Medicare). Can’t imagine there would be a mass deportation programme of these elderly darlings we have to keep happy.

    • DominicMEMBER

      Never mind. When the welfare system collapses and jobs are hard to come by there’ll be plane-loads heading off for greener pastures.

  11. How many dumped elderly migrants will we get when the adult kids move to somewhere sweeter when a downturn eventually comes to Australia?

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Just going by the stink eyes I get from the broken-bodied hobbling around Ithe streets I’m convinced they hate everyone from the western world.

      • A certain country, won’t name which one because apparently I will be a Racist, consistently rates as one of the most racist countries on earth…..The irony makes me bleed from the ears


    Good grief!
    There’s only 4.2 working age Strayans for each person over age 65 right now and it will continue to fall all the way to 3.1 by 2058 before this was announced!

    Taxes will escalate sharply for those unable to leave and we won’t be able to make this fly without some serious financial ‘help’. Hey XI!
    Think we can work something out?

    • @ SoMPLSBoy

      The ALP policy for the youth of today and tomorrow.

      They have already screwed over the retirees who will have zero to leave to their kids or grandchildren but billions for people who have never paid 1 cent of tax in Australia.

      AS Chris Bowen said, “Put Labor last” so I will do just that.

  13. I think Labor’s proposal on this will turn out to be like one of John Howard’s “non core promises”

    They will weasel out by sending the proposal to a Senate committee for a costing review. Then (privately congratulate ) blame the cross bench senators for the proposal dying

    • jkambahMEMBER


      This is core policy. You just do not want to vote against the ALP or the Greens. I am placing Libs/ALP/Greens last in that order. Vote for ON and SAP ahead of these scum or just accept that you get what you deserve over time.

  14. Torchwood1979

    Whenever I see the words “Labor” and “Uncapped” within cooee of each other my nerves start twitching in anticipation of another government funded disaster.

    • DominicMEMBER

      As the old saying goes ..

      There are 3 certainties in life: death, taxes and Govt funded disasters

    • No but a lot of old sick people buying private health insurance will drive up the cost of private healthcare for the rest of the population.

      • And when their policies don’t cover them (either they get sick with existing conditions within the qualifying period, or they buy junk policies), watch as they enter emergency rooms for treatment. Or mabye they might just use some of the extra Medicare cards flying around?

    • @ Gavin

      A good question for your local ALP candidate, just don’t hold your breath getting a reply before the election.

      Gavin, please ask your ALP candidate and let us know the outcome.

  15. I’m getting prepared. Starting a party called “Elderly Migrants United” or something similar which caters for our new overlords.
    Meanwhile on the side I start an aged care facility, elderly daycare centre and retirement village (some in the themes of different countries to make migrant feel more at home) where I can funnel government funds into while coming up with new government schemes and grants to push through parliament. Working on one now called the Elderly Daycare Subsidy Scheme.
    Vote 1 the EMU party – Make Australia something else….

  16. This doesn’t go far enough. Australians should pay for health care the world over.

    • And let’s give them a first class ticket to get here on Qantas too. Seems only fair 🙂

  17. Is this in Labor’s costings released today? Not that the Treasury has ever been remotely reliable with who’s ass their figures are extracted from.

    I’ve been certain my vote was going to be Labor ever since the negative gearing policy – which shouldn’t even be allowed on new properties but was better than nothing. This has changed everything. I’ll definitely not vote Labor now.

    • Labor’s costings????? Beep Beep ERROR – INCOMPATIBLE KEYWORDS Beep Beep..SYSTEM SHUTTING DOWN.. Beep Beep..

  18. Jevons ghostMEMBER

    I gather that the new arrivals will need private health insurance arranged before they are accepted. So what happens once they arrive and their sponsor(s) decide not to renew the insurance when it falls due? My guess is: most likely nothing. So the imported oldies will then drift over into the public health arena. And what an arena that will become!

    • Just as a side note… When I was on a 457, I had to carry private health cover. Because I was working a typical 457 job (for half the pay that a non-457 version of the same job would attract) in a mining town, funds were short, so I let my cover lapse for 6 months. Nobody came after me. Got PR just fine.

  19. “Labor to welcome 2 million elderly migrants”

    What more reasons do local Australians require before they open their eyes?

    Our major parties do not advocate for us.

    Grow brains people and vote against the sellout of our children.

    Do not vote ALP.

    Do not vote LNP.

    • I’m voting 1 Sustainable Australia in the Senate to send a message and 1 ALP in the House to make sure that Bill’s housing policies get in, as a poverty-track renter currently on respectable middle class wages but looking at retirement at age 70 in 15 years with insufficient super to fund market rate rents for more than a few years (let alone anything else people normally require for living).

      My rent payment would easily pay off a studio in those 15 years (actually less), but I can’t get in because banks insist on not considering Sydney’s only affordable housing to buy (small studios) suitable to loan on without generally a 20-40% deposit, if they’ll loan on them at all. If I could afford 20% down on a studio, I’d buy a larger home at 10% down; alas, whilst paying Sydney rents, I can’t get up that huge a deposit.

      So I’ll vote for ANY lever on the housing market, just in case it helps the growing ranks of people in my position.

      Seriously, with two degrees and a career in IT, I never imagined in a million years that I’d be poverty-track, but financial realities don’t let me get up the monstrous deposit (equivalent to the entire cost of a starter unit in other countries like the US) required to get in.

      • Hi Hobbit.

        I seriously hear you and your pain.
        You and I are a growing number in Australia of working once “middle class” poor, all courtesy of governments from both sides hellbent on flooding our nation with people to dampen wages and cement us into high housing unaffordabilty by those fortunate enough to be on the property Ponzi scheme before it completely sold us all out.
        Well done Australian political parties. We to the politicians are irrelevant in their decision making. The new arrivals are the ones that matter and they know no different thus they can be moulded and shaped to fit their agenda.
        Look overseas now for people to wear your Australian military uniform since us locally born and bred, like the diggers that came before us, look at a once smart nation, with utter contempt now.This is not advocacy to your own. This is a complete thievery of our youth and local prosperity.

      • Steernorth,

        What stuns me is the number of current middle class renters who are NOT VOTING LIKE THEY ARE THE FUTURE POOR. Do they not understand that most renting pensioners are living around poverty level, or that 87% of renting single female pensioners live below a modest lifestyle level? The government won’t change that on its own, because it’s going to cost money.

        To change the current trajectory for our group, we all have to do so, and say, no, this is not the future we accept for ourselves… Whilst we still have money to influence our futures, the government should find some way to let us use it to secure a home without considering it realistic for those who don’t have a mum and dad to live with to save on rent, or rich and generous parents who’ll toss $50K or so our way or go guarantor, to stump up $50K or more to get into a home.

        None of the solutions I’ve heard so far keep the power in the individual’s hands. They all require us to cede something to some pseudo-charity who’ll help us in a way that coincidentally helps their bottom line and does nothing to get us OUT of rental poverty, but just keeps us there.

        Hence my ALP in the House and Sustainable Australia in the Senate voting.

      • This policy will increase the buying power of migrant families considering they will commonly consist of 3 sets of adults. This will keep house prices at high levels.

      • Chase,

        I’m relying on Sustainable Australia to vote against it in the Senate.

        Additionally, 1 Chinese student will often property serve as daigou for their entire extended family already, especially once they’ve gotten PR. So I don’t expect it to make that much of a difference to buying power. (It will likely however require more housing, which is not good.)

      • jkambahMEMBER

        Do you have to retire in Sydney or Melbourne? Could you purchase an investment property cheaply in a regional center and positively gear this, and later retire there when it is paid off? Perhaps Newcastle/Woolongong? I live in the ACT, cheaper housing than Syd/Melb but it has become expensive for new entrants.

    • @ Steer

      Is BS Shorten a Gen X or boomer ??

      Where is your outrage ??


      @ Hobbit

      Read your post and then you state that you will still vote ALP and you lost me.

      Definition of Insanity; Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

      Uni educated and probably very intelligent but not very bright.

  20. Labor is actively courting the migrant vote, but while people may be interested I doubt it will be any easier than the current system.

    If you aren’t eligible for Medicare, public EDs will send you a bill. From what I’ve heard this is happening more often due to funding issues. Current parent visas already require a financial guarantee from the family, so dropping the initial application fee may not be enough.

    Under the previous system, potential parent migrants had to meet a test where a majority of their children were already in Australia. This definitely benefited the Chinese due to the One Child Policy, but may be less applicable to the Indians.

    Regardless, Labor is not expected to hold a senate majority and I am expecting a right leaning senate cross bench to block these proposals.