As we know, the Morrison Government has locked itself into a high immigration future by declaring open war on Australian workers via:
- Abolishing labour market testing requirements.
- Lowering costs and speeding up approval times for importing foreign workers.
- Expanding the skilled occupation list to include almost any role.
- Providing all ‘skilled’ visa holders with a clear pathway for transition to permanent residency.
- Granting ‘skilled’ visa holders priority access to flights and hotel quarantine ahead of stranded Australians.
- Allowing international students to work 40 hours per week.
So far, the only response from Labor regarding the Morrison Government’s planned immigration reboot were vague comments from shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers broadly supporting a strong migration program:
“Much of the growth before COVID-19 relied heavily on population growth”.
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“So clearly, it’s not sustainable for us to have closed borders for longer than is necessary.”
Yesterday, Queensland LNP Senator Gerard Rennick broke ranks from the government and opposed opening the border to foreign workers, claiming it would push down wages:
“Even if we rolled out the vaccine perfectly … I still doubt that we would open the borders in a large way anyway because people aren’t ready for that.
“This idea that we’ve got to open the borders and let all the foreign immigrants come back in and push down wages and that, I’m looking forward to seeing wage growth actually come back.”
Labor’s Jim Chalmers immediately hit back in defence of high immigration:
“Not content with stuffing up the vaccine rollout, now members of the government are trying to stuff up the borders too,” Mr Chalmers told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“This is what’s wrong with these people, always playing politics and making excuses.
“What are workers and businesses in sensitive industries in Queensland and elsewhere to make of this incompetence?
“After eight years of attacks on wages, and eight years of wage stagnation, making a mess of vaccines is not a wages policy”…
Business groups are warning of a chronic skills shortage because of the border closures locking out an estimated 174,000 migrants.
So there you have it. Labor is all in with wage-crushing big immigration. Even while they tear themselves apart about how to secure the base of blue-collar workers.
If only Labor had half a brain it would see that rebooting immigration back to pre-COVID levels is highly unpopular across the electorate. Every time the mainstream media publishes an article bemoaning the lack of immigration and purported labour shortages, the article is followed with hundreds of angry reader comments rejecting the call.
A decade-plus of stagnant wage growth, crush-loaded infrastructure, and rising housing costs is all the empirical evidence Australians need to know that returning to Big Australia immigration is a bad deal. This is now widely recognised by centrist economists including Ross Garnaut, Saul Eslake, the RBA and Labor economist, Stephen Koukoulas.
In January, The Kouk argued against returning to the “break-neck inflows evident in the couple of decades prior to 2020″, claiming this immigration crush-loaded housing, infrastructure and living standards:
When it resumes, there should be a sensible and fact-based assessment and analysis of how much immigration is needed to support the Australian economy without blowing up the housing market or pressuring current infrastructure capacity.
Earlier this month, The Kouk returned arguing that the sharp reduction in immigration will likely push up wage growth, which fell to record lows on the back of 15-years of pre-COVID “break-neck” immigration:
It’s good news for the economy – Australia is entering a period of accelerating wages growth…
In the pre-COVID environment, many firms would look overseas for workers and talent. In 2021, this is no longer a source of labour for them. International borders are closed.
Indeed, it is clear that one effect of the COVID pandemic and the associated border closures is to allow for stronger wages growth…
Yesterday, The Kouk penned another article at Yahoo Finance arguing that years of high immigration wrecked productivity growth, wage growth and living standards and called for significantly lower levels of immigration post-COVID:
Population growth outpaced infrastructure capacity, most notably the transport networks in the big cities where most immigrants settled. Congestion was also seen in productivity destroying traffic chaos, overcrowded schools, hospitals and other government services.
Immigration was also a source of labour for many businesses, which has seen the government slash trade training funding, made university costs oppressive and generally undermined the skills set of many Australians…
A recent RBA survey of business shows expectations for wages growth is at its highest level in over a decade…
It is well understood that rising wages growth will fuel household incomes and with that, consumer spending… Border closures are now linked to higher wages…
It is possible that immigration will be an election issue particularly if one side, or other, uses the good news from low immigration as part of a platform to improve the well being of Australians with strong per capita growth…
But the bigger picture immigration program, which saw 1 million people arrive in the three years prior to COVID-19, needs to be scaled back even when the borders reopen.
If we go back to huge population growth in the years ahead, get set for weaker wages, further house price gains, pressure on infrastructure and higher unemployment.
This is terrific stuff by The Kouk. He needs to leverage his contacts within the Labor Party to get them to change their immigration policy.
The New Zealand Ardern Labour Government has shown Labor the way ahead on immigration reform. All it needs to do is follow it wholeheartedly and it will storm into office.
Sadly, the likes of Jim Chalmers are standing in the way and will guide Labor directly to a fourth straight election loss against the most corrupt government in the modern era.