Judith Sloan demolishes ‘Big Australia’ carpetbaggers


The Australian’s Judith Sloan, a former commissioner at the Productivity Commission, has demolished the vested interests pushing for a quick return to mass immigration.

In summary:

  • Supporters of a ‘Big Australia’ include the property sector, universities and other educational institutions, and federal Treasury.
  • These organisations never consider the downsides of high immigration levels, including lower wage growth, urban congestion, pressure on services such as health and schooling, and in the case of universities declining education standards.
  • “The unrelenting academic and bureaucratic support for high rates of immigration”, such as from the ANU demography department and the Australian Treasury is “unforgivable”. Propaganda has beaten empirical evidence.
  • Research from the Productivity Commission debunks their claimed benefits of mass immigration. “Immigration has no noticeable impact on the demographic composition of population, in part because ­migrants themselves age”. There is also little evidence that “just having more people really does anything to our fiscal position, either federally or at the state level”.
  • “Over the past decade or so, we have had large-scale immigration associated with stalling per capita GDP growth (and associated sluggish productivity growth)”.
  • The lack of immigration as a result of border closures on the back of the pandemic has resulted in unemployment falling significantly, while signs of wages pressure are beginning to emerge.
  • The “RBA has now gone 180 degrees on immigration, acknowledging that all along immigration was suppressing wage growth by bringing in more workers and that lower population is likely to be associated with higher per capita GDP”. In its latest Statement on Monetary Policy the RBA noted that “wages pressures [could emerge] more quickly if new ­labour supply remains constrained” and that “the level of GDP is still expected to remain a little below that forecast before the pandemic, mostly due to lower population growth; in per capita terms, GDP is expected to be on a higher trajectory”.
  • Leading economists Gareth Aird, Professor Ross Garnaut and Saul Eslake have each recently confirmed this view.
  • “Thankfully, the number of these alternative voices [to mass immigration] is increasing, as well as the noise they are making”. Yet, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg continues to “fall for the Big Australia trap” and follow Treasury’s “shoddy advice”.

Thankyou Judith Sloan. She is one of the few economists in Australia that has been consistent on this issue and fought long and hard against the ‘Big Australia’ carpetbaggers and propagandists.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.