Abul Rizvi’s solution to everything is more immigration

Abul Rizvi, former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration and one of the architects of Australia’s faux ‘skilled’ migration program, continues to shill for a ‘Big Australia’, even with the economy facing its biggest downturn since the Great Depression:

If only 30 per cent of long-term temporary entrants depart, net migration in 2020 would be even lower than during the Great Depression when it fell to negative 12,117 in 1931.

If 50% of long-term temporary entrants depart, Australia would experience negative population growth for the first time since 1916. The only two other years we have had negative population growth was 1795 and 1779.

Not even during the Great Depression did Australia experience negative population growth.

Current Government policy appears designed to simultaneously achieve negative population growth, exacerbating the recession and making recovery much more difficult…

So what can we expect in terms of the depth of the coronavirus recession and the speed of recovery?… if net migration does move significantly into negative territory, history tells us that correlates with much higher levels of unemployment, as well as larger numbers of people who become destitute. Thus a policy to force net migration down faster will make recovery all the more difficult…

Population ageing since the GFC has contributed to slowing global economic growth and to Australia’s slow growth of the last decade.

This is highlighted in the steady decline in the average hours worked per month per adult in Chart 4.Population ageing in the developed world and in Australia will add to the challenge the Government faces in designing its recovery from the coronavirus recession.

The key will be to stop the curve in Chart 5 from falling too sharply.

Recovery from that decline can be assisted if the Government does not insist on forcing Australia to experience negative net migration and possibly negative population growth.

No matter what the economic circumstances are, Abul Rizvi’s solution is always the same: more immigration. And this is always centred around spurious economic arguments.

Let’s get real for a second. Australia has run one of the strongest immigration programs in the world since the Howard Government threw open the flood gates in the early-2000s on the back of Abul Rizvi’s policy:

Following this ‘Big Australia’ policy change, Australia’s population growth has dwarfed other developed nations, running at more than 2.5 times the OECD Average:

Abul Rizvi’s suggestion that mass immigration has bolstered Australia’s economic performance is easily debunked.

As shown below, Australia’s GDP per capita growth under Rizvi’s mass immigration policy has been unflattering, lagging the OECD’s, despite Australia benefiting from a once in one hundred year mining boom:

This performance is even worse over the most recent decade, with Australia’s per capita GDP growth lagging all other major advanced nations:

The situation on the income side of the equation is even worse, with Australian households recording zero real disposable income growth over the past seven years and last decade providing the lowest annual average growth in 60 years:

This sluggish household income growth was driven, in part, by Australia’s chronically high underemployment and labour underutilisation, which has created chronic labour market slack and held down wage growth:

One of the reasons for this persistent labour market slack is the huge volumes of temporary and permanent migrants continually pouring into Australia under Abul Rizvi’s policy.

With Australia now facing mass unemployment, alongside falling incomes, the absolute last thing workers need is for 2.3 million temporary migrants to remain in Australia competing with locals for scarce jobs. This will not only keep unemployment and underemployment high, but also place additional downward pressure on wages.

The same applies for the permanent migrant intake, which has set aside 108,000 places for so-called ‘skilled’ workers:

With skills shortages virtually non existent across the economy, and mass unemployment looming, there is also zero rationale in maintaining such a strong permanent migrant program.

Blind Freddy can see that Abul Rizvi’s ‘Big Australia’ policy has not delivered for ordinary Australians in a narrow economic sense. And the picture is even worse when one counts broader impacts like the crush-loading of infrastructure and housing across the major cities, which have unambiguously shredded living standards.

Once the coronavirus crisis has passed, and international travel bans are lifted, the Morrison Government must ignore Abul Rizvi and send large numbers of “temporary” visa holders back to their home countries, as well as halve the permanent migrant intake.

This is the only way to better balance labour supply with demand, as well as safeguard living standards. It would also merely return immigration levels back to sustainable historical norms.

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)

Comments

    • Abul was the senior Immigration official delivering all the changes during the Howard years. He is vested in that the current arrangements pretty much are his baby (sired by Howard though).

      A major premise of Abul’s swing to relying mostly on temporary visas was that it gave the system flexibility: the migrant take could quickly expand when skills were needed but then in times of strife those on temporary visas could return to their home countries. It is now judgement day for that policy and it looks like a fail. We should not be offering financial support for those on temporary visas (ex-NZers) to stay, they need to return to their home countries.

      And Leith, that “Canberra bubble” quip is a cheap shot. You know as well as I do that the pollies requiring these policies are from all around Australia. I am also sure you know that many of these policies are delivered through gritted teeth by the public servants who happen to work from Canberra.

      • “And Leith, that “Canberra bubble” quip is a cheap shot”.

        No it isn’t. Rizvi is a long-term Canberra resident and key architect of the Big Australia policy. He has not had to suffer from his own policy, unlike residents of Sydney and Melbourne. Same goes for many senior APS public servants and ‘experts’ that support the ‘Big Australia’ policy (e.g. ANU academics).

  1. I’m guessing owns (or he or his wife is a signifcant shareholder in) a franchise of migration and travel agencies? All of which make regular and sizable donations to both the LNP and ALP?

  2. “With skills shortages virtually non existent across the economy, and mass unemployment looming, there is also zero rationale in maintaining such a strong permanent migrant program.”

    Abul Rizvi has an ideological commitment to sustained mass immigration. Economic realities don’t appear to matter.

  3. ‘if net migration does move significantly into negative territory, history tells us that correlates with much higher levels of unemployment, as well as larger numbers of people who become destitute’
    Excuse me???? less people means more unemployment????? I’m strugging to join those dots! Basic maths would suggest that a larger number of people competing for the same number of jobs can only result in larger unemployment, let me know what I am missing……

    • He’s done a course in contemporary economics at one of our Unis — more proof of our rising standards.

    • The usual argument is that an increase in population = increase in demand = greater employment.

      But would this still be the case with the COVID19 impact?

      The usual increases in demand are in the consumer economy, which is largely furloughed. It doesn’t seem that Abul has accounted for this in his (spurious) economic theory.

    • Definitely, remember the employment triumph subsequent to the Black Plague, population decimated and serfs no longer working for bed and board, but actually were in demand and paid cash. Real wages. This shut down already with most in isolation is very interesting. Those who boss parasitise etc are without audience. People in homes out of sight are dealing directly with producers…flour from millers with farmers named, meat from paddock at my door today, distributors to restaurants, vegetable grower..supply people directly. Women baking sourdough from Darwin perth and the rest, tropics to cold and sharing it all online, including where to buy. People bonding but out of sight, making arrangements out of sight of those who usually profited by being in between. It feels like a dead controlling hand has lifted off, one which among everything else brought in millions of people above our carrying capacity.

    • Re: Japan – huge population of geriatrics, declining workforce, minimal immigration ….

      …. and people are fearful of automation.

      * shakes head in dismay **

  4. As I’ve said before, spent his entire career in Canberra at the SES level. Has now gone to the darkside and joined the ticket clipping immigration conga line. Questionable bloke, independent Australia is anything but a non-partisan news service and seems to have sold itself out to the spruikers as well.

  5. Locus of ControlMEMBER

    Quality journalism.

    “The only two other years we have had negative population growth was 1795 and 1779.”

    While I accept we might have had negative population growth in 1795, I’d really like to know who was recording the stat’s in 1779, considering Australia (specifically Sydney) wasn’t settled by stat’s-keeper types until circa 1788.

    • Captain Cook left a statistician behind when he passed through. This lonely chap did a regular census count and then reported the results to Arthur Phillip when he finally rocked up in 1788.

  6. Someone should ask him what suburb he lives in and is it a detached house? Does he drive to work or catch transport? I think we all know the answers.

  7. Well, if you’re going to insist on measuring everything on a per capita basis, then of course it makes immigration outcomes look just bloody awful.

    But viewed through the prism of:

    – the immigrant and their relatives who all get to leave their authoritarian and/or economic shithole countries to establish roots in a progressive/social security wonderland, without the hassle of even having to learn English
    – the property developer who gets to re purpose office buildings into student accommodation
    – the university vice-chancellor who gets to play at building a property empire
    – the bank board that is able to maintain credit growth and executive bonuses
    – the ex-manufacturing worker who gets to open a food service business
    – the Lord mayor and state premier who are able to gush about cranes on the horizon, and cities on the move
    – the property investors who can marvel at their own brilliance at flipping houses for a 30% profit in 6 months.
    – the miscellaneous rent seekers who all get to clip the ticket along the way

    … then immigration is what makes this country so farking great.

  8. “The traditional suburban quarter-acre block has played an important role in keeping the death rate from COVID-19 relatively low in Australia.”
    – AFR

  9. Thanks for this rebuttal, Leith. This bloke is now flat out of control and a declared enemy of the Australian people. As long as Karismatic Kristina continues to mouth his self-serving policies, Labor has no chance of regaining power.

    • Although she tends to avoid the immigration issue, Sally McManus has on occasions criticised the extremely high number of temporary overseas workers coming to Australia. But now she wants the taxpayer to subsidise the same temporary overseas workers and keep them in the country indefinitely during the midst of a depression-level event.

      The unions are a joke.

  10. rizvi is an ethnic Indian
    We need a Great Orator to break through and enlighten the people… that it’s ok to reject Asianisation of Australian society

  11. He’s a former Deputy Secretary, not Secretary. The Secretary is under the Minister and running the department. DepSecs run divisions and as I recall, his was the humanitarian stream. before the merge there was about 5 divisions. He’s been out of it a long while and he just another Canberra bubble who is obviously bored in retirement.

  12. “One way of describing mass immigration is as a verdict on the pay structure that had arisen in the West by the 1970s: on trade unions, prevailing-wage laws, defined-benefit pension plans, long vacations, and the power workers had accumulated against their bosses more generally. These had long been, in most people’s minds, excellent things. But Republicans argued that private business, alas, could not afford them, and by the 1980s they had won the argument. Immigration, like outsourcing and tighter regulation of unions, allowed employers to pay less for many kinds of labor. But immigrants came with other huge costs: new schools, new roads, translation (formal and informal), and health care for those who could not afford it. Those externalities were absorbed by the public, not the businessmen who benefited from immigration.”

    This is the type of model endorsed by Rizvi.

    Immigration and Inequality – https://quillette.com/2020/04/06/immigration-and-inequality-a-book-excerpt/

  13. https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-australia-why-our-covid19-death-toll-is-low/news-story/f555a96c5e4403c08fed6ecf36b3aa5f

    “So why is Australia, as such a big country, recording so many less than others?

    Professor Gary Geelhoed, executive director of the Western Australian Health Translation Network, said it was because we were so big.

    Australia has a population density of about three people per square kilometre compared to Italy with 206 and Spain at 91.

    “Just look at the streetscape of cities and towns of Italy and compare it to the average Australian suburban streetscape – the difference is obvious,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

    “It’s so much easier to isolate jurisdictions here, all you need do is put a police car on the road linking them.”

    what other reason do you need to cut all imigration.