Attention politicians: Australians don’t want high immigration

Yesterday, The AFR published the views of vested interests beating the drum for a quick return to mass immigration:

The Australian Financial Review revealed on Tuesday that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is being urged by his top bureaucrats to back a post-World War II-style immigration wave, making up for lost population growth via a doubling of the pre-pandemic net overseas migration rate over the next five years – the equivalent of 2 million new Australians…

Rob Scott, managing director of Wesfarmers, on Tuesday supported the need to get “immigration going again… All Australians benefit”…

Tarun Gupta, CEO of Managing Director and CEO, property group Stockland said: “Australia’s enduring success has been fostered by the significant contributions of many generations of migrants”…

Andrew McKellar, chief executive of Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry [said]… “Migration is one of the most effective mechanisms to deliver substantial economic benefit to all Australians, as well as improving the age profile of our workforce… Our recovery is not just contingent on restoring migration to these previous levels, but pushing for ambitious growth in skilled migration to realise Australia’s economic potential”…

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet doubled-down, declaring himself a ‘Big NSW’ man that will campaign Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a massive immigration increase:

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said as he declared himself staunchly in favour of a “big NSW”… Mr Perrottet said he would pursue the matter with Prime Minister Scott Morrison…

“We’re going to have a real discussion [about] catching up some of those numbers that we’ve lost during this pandemic,” Mr Perrottet said on Wednesday, echoing calls from business groups and aged care and hospital services providers who say they are desperate for staff.

“I’m someone who believes in a big NSW,” he said. “I think that provides greater opportunity and prosperity for people across the state. “It is something we will necessarily address working with the federal government.”

Whereas the businenomics shills at The AFR View love the idea of flooding Australia with warm migrant bodies:

The official advice to incoming NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet that Australia must double its pre-pandemic rate of immigration is just the kind of big policy idea that the country needs now.

In a representative democracy like Australia, our politician’s number one focus should be to represent their voting constituents, not the vested interests of business. If our politicians did so, they would categorically reject a return to pre-COVID mass immigration, which is opposed by the overwhelming majority of Australian voters.

The evidence for this claim is provided in a new survey from the The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI), which asked voters whether they want Australia to return to pre-COVID levels of 240,000 annual net overseas migration (NOM), or whether they would prefer lower levels.

Only 19% of respondents supported pre-COVID levels of immigration, with 70% wanting lower levels of immigration (of which 48% want significantly lower or zero immigration):

The overwhelming majority (61%) of Australians do not support importing labour to fill skills shortages and would prefer employers pay higher wages and train Australians:

The majority (58%) of Australians do not want international student numbers to return to their pre-COVID level:

The overwhelming majority (69%) of Australians do not believe that Australia needs more people:

Why? Because more people means declining liveability, a degraded environment and more expensive housing:

The TAPI report concludes with the following:

There is a massive disjunction between elites and non-elites in Australia on population issues.

Since Australia largely closed its borders to migrants in March 2020 business and employer interests as well as the media and most peak leaders in civil society have been putting the case for restoring Big Australia immigration levels.

There have been almost daily appeals from interests asserting that they cannot perform their role without an influx of migrants. The aged care industry wants more migrant carers, the tech industry more IT specialists, hospitals want more migrant nurses and doctors, universities want more overseas students, fruit and vegetable growers want an influx of Pacific Islanders and others to do the work that they say locals are not prepared to do.

Governments at the federal and state level have generally been supportive of these appeals. In extreme cases, as with Victoria, the Labor government (with support from the Liberal opposition) has based its business plan on providing debt-supported infrastructure (its ‘big build’). This is to cater for a population that it projects will grow by another one million by 2026 (two thirds due to net overseas migration).

These federal and state responses indicate that, if implemented, in the post-pandemic era, immigration levels will reach at least the annual net 240,000 achieved prior to 2020.

TAPRI’s 2021 survey of Australian voters’ attitudes to these issues indicates that on population issues elites are not connecting with voters or, if they are, that most voters disagree with the message.

In the case of immigration levels, TAPRI asked voters whether they supported a return to Big Australia migration levels (around 240,000). The survey explained in the preamble to the question that this number was the level prevailing prior to 2020 and that it was contributing some 64 per cent of Australia’s overall population growth at the time.

Only 19 per cent of respondents supported a return to this level. Most voters (Figure 1) wanted far less, including 28 per cent who favoured nil net migration.

In answer to the broader question about whether Australia needs more people, 69 per cent said that it did not. This level or higher has been recorded in previous surveys. However, in this case, the question was asked in a context where net immigration levels were negligible, and when advocates had been urgently pressing their case for a revival…

The majority of voters do not support the elite assumption that Australia should be wide open to the movement of people and goods and services. Instead, they favour a more independent and self-reliant Australia, which implies giving priority to developing Australian sources of skills and locally produced goods and services.

On employment policy we asked whether voters supported the elite view that employers should be able to import the skilled workers they need in order to boost economic growth or, alternatively, that we should respond to worker shortages by raising wages and increasing skills by training locals (Figure 2). Only 26 per cent of respondents supported the first option. 61 per cent supported the second option.

On recruiting more overseas students, we asked whether universities should be able to restore overseas student recruitment, or should recruitment stay low because universities had become too dependent on it, and that some have been neglecting local students (Figure 3). Just 33 per cent supported the first option, while 59 per cent supported the second option…

Voters have another potent reason to reject elite claims about the merits of high immigration. This is the quality-of-life consequences of having to accommodate high numbers of additional migrants, especially in Australia’s major urban centres. These concerns have been recorded repeatedly in previous surveys.

We asked the 69 per cent of respondents in the 2021 survey who did not think Australia needed more people about their views on these quality-of-life issues. Big majorities of this group of voters thought that there were major costs in congestion, housing prices, competition for hospital and school services and in stresses on the natural environment (Table 1).

Elites claim that the quality-of-life costs flowing from high migration can be mitigated, as by providing more higher density living opportunities and by the infrastructure ‘big builds’ being pursued in Melbourne and Sydney.

However, when asked about these strategies the weakest support of all was for high rise options. A much larger share of respondents thought lower immigration was a better option (Figure 11)…

One important piece of evidence is that opposition to Big Australia immigration levels is common across all birthplace groups, as the following table indicates. In none of the groups listed, including those born in Asia, does a majority support a return to the Big Australia level of 240,000 or more per year. The proportion of Australia-born voters supporting the various options is much the same as for the other birthplace groups. The one exception is the Asia-born, 30 per cent of whom support the 240,000 number. Nonetheless a majority of Asia-born voters support levels below this number.

As we have indicated, the magnitude of the gulf between the elites and non-elite voters on the question of immigration has had minimal political implications in the recent past. Coalition and Labor leaders have shared a bipartisan support for Big Australia immigration levels.

Sadly, in the unrepresentative democracy of Australia, our politicians and media bend the knee to vested interests in the property/business lobby rather than representing the wishes of the Australian people.

Unconventional Economist


  1. There may now be another reason Australians don’t want high immigration. I saw a few years back jordqn petersons had stats on countries/regions rates of diseases/virus and its correlation to open societies. The data was over a large time period. It was a very strong correlation and would explain a further push from Australia towards less immigration.
    Let’s be honest here, the last thing people are going to say on a survey when ask why they want low immigration is that its because they think immigrants will bring over diseases, that’s just not PC.

    • And a related reason – religion. Morrison and Perrotet know that if they flood Sydney and Melbourne with migrants for another decade or two, the extra religiosity will make Labor more unelectable than ever. That Perrotet “Opus Dei” Pram is not just a cheap media prop – it is a political portent. Archbishops Fisher and Raffel are loving it.

      • Ee Zed Eff Kaye Ay

        Partially correct. All major parties are wedded to mass immigration, they only differ on the makeup. The makeup generally is where they think they’ll get votes from. Albo would be equally enthused about 10 million migrants, just the composition will differ.

  2. Outspoken people may not want high immigration rate but quiet Australians do. They want their house prices up and double every 7-10 years.

      • I think the price growth champions are the very minority.

        I am hearing a lot of people verbalise that they are worried their children won’t be able to afford a home. The only ones I hear bragging is my gready Nana who worked part time at a nursing home way back to obtain her plus $1 million house.

        • I wouldn’t rule it out, though. The average voter is stoopid: they naturally may want cheaper housing for their offspring, but at the same time they are happy with their house price increasing YoY. Schizophrenic, basically…

      • Where are the protests then, hey? Aren’t Lib/Lab, the parties for high immigration still in power? People will vote in their interests and that includes high property prices.

      • Does the poll ask if they would trade lower prices for less immigration?
        That’s the problem with polls they ask 1 dimensional questions about multidimensional problems.

        • Ee Zed Eff Kaye Ay

          It is academic what people want. Most would be happier with lower prices and lower immigration, but that is beside the point. The politicians, big business and media want higher immigration and that is what they’ll get. Only a few micro parties are pushing for lower immigration, but they get shouted down as racist.

          Best thing to happen to Australia would be for it to be broken in colonies to become independent. Vic and NSW can have their woke and high immigration. The rest of Australia can go its own way.

    • This is only true for a small minority living in elite suburbs. For every thousand immigrants, one of them will be successful enough to eventually buy someone’s house in Balmain for 3 million dollars, which is all they care about. The other 999 will live in cramped, squalid conditions in the Western Suburbs, or in high-rise.

    • Absolute BeachMEMBER

      Mr X6 Boy you are incorrect. Not a single person I know wants to return to high immigration. Most are OK with humanitarian visas but are totally opposed to skilled and edu visas. They are quiet BUT will not be silent next election if Scotty goes all in on doubling numbers.

      • Nothing wrong with Skilled and EDU visas as long as:
        1. “Skilled” visas have a minimum salary of (say) $150,000 p.a, OR 20% above the award (for occupations that have them). This should neatly limit skilled immigration to high-value individuals (the 150k) and occupations where there is a true shortage of staff.

        2. EDU visas are no longer a near guaranteed path to PR.

        Taking away the path to PR will ensure people come for the right reasons (education, not the ability to stay), and that number will be low enough that their work rights won’t matter.

        • Objectively, those who come for (proper) education are precisely the kind you want to stay. Generally speaking, they’ll arrive young and spend 3-8 (depending on course(s)) of some fairly formative years of their life integrating with Australian society.

          Fix up the requirements for PR-through-education to a limited subset of high-value courses (STEM, Medicine, etc), a minimum of a 4-year course and a minimum overall grade of Distinction and there won’t be any problems in terms of numbers or makeup.

          Plenty of culture-export soft-power value in foreign students doing Arts degrees (or just a couple of semesters) as well, but need to be more limited in number for obvious reasons.

          The real problem that needs to be stamped is the sham institutions and courses acting as a front for labour exploitation.

    • I’m a home owner who doesn’t want high immigration to return. It just means everything else becomes more expensive and more time in traffic etc.. plus rising house prices just make the next house on more land more expensive – should I wish to trade up in future.

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Speak for yourself! Now that the lounges have opened their back doors in anticipation for being allowed to officially open their front doors here in NSW within days, it’s literally the same old faces. We need a load of new imported lounge workers pronto!

  4. Whoever controls the genre narrative wins in this country
    I think the push will be 10 mill within 10 yrs.

  5. Reus's large MEMBER

    Well done everyone who got vaxed, now see what you have allowed to happen, the big push to get to 80% had SFA to do with anyones health and everything to do with getting warm bodies into the country.

      • Reus's large MEMBER

        No don’t accept the bait and switch from the government, look over here and got to 80% and you can have your freedoms back while we ignore your health and concerns and only want to open the borders.

        There needed to be more push back from the populace, get some proper riots going with people going after those in charge not just standing around chatting near a war memorial, find where dictator Dan is and go after him with a mob of thousands, call it a BLM rally and you can get away with anything.

        Everyone in this country is to compliant and used to there being too many rules, we should have pushed back hard.

        • Don’t worry. Most likely this virus will mutate and once it comes in from overseas again and the lockdowns start again then the borders won’t get opened again for 5 years. I honestly see this as my base case. Immigration will become a dirty word and ‘overseas tourists’ will be made illegal to say in public.

          • I honestly believe the ‘brave’ returning students will be treated as royalty. Expect gov grants and all sorts of fluff.

      • The answers lie back in time. Proper quarantine IMO still is the long term answer to lower lockdowns, lower anxiety even when open, and protection from future variants. Side effect would be borders that aren’t “as open” either; although still open enough for essential travel.

        Given NSW’s reduction in numbers I do think all the jabs other controls were working and they could of got there had they had a better government. Given case numbers are laggy will be interesting to see how opening up goes in NSW. With “big NSW” and other initiatives NSW seems to ruin it for everyone dragging Australia to the lowest common denominator. This pandemic and premier has shown me just how beholden to business and vested interests the NSW government has been.

        I don’t accept that we just ignore health concerns due to bad management/planning. I can’t see people who did plan well (e.g. QLD, WA) at least on this issue agreeing to take on the health costs that come from bad policy decisions (e.g. VIC should of locked the border instantly and in a very tough way as soon as cases were shown).

        I think VIC is just tired, and I understand your frustration. Lockdown should of been the last resort, not the main control. Every other control possible should of been acted quickly and planned before lockdown ever gets triggered.

        • Ee Zed Eff Kaye Ay

          Governments had their Damascus moment about quarantine not for returning Aussies, but for students. Expect the Mickleham facility to hold international students.

        • QLD and WA may disagree in a year or so when the rest of the country is back to normal and they are still in isolated quarantine. All that achieves is delaying the point you end up like NSW or victoria, or you live your hermint existence hoping someone bringing in your imports or taking your exports doesn;t bring in the disease anyway. It isn’t going away.

          • You’ve just proven my point in my other comment below. If NSW and VIC managed to stay COVID zero that wouldn’t be as valid of an opinion. At least in Australia people could of travelled freely as they like with no COVID fear and no division. The “cave” would be at least as big as Australia which diminishes the “hermit” argument substantially; and tbh given the article is about open borders making it more open than domestic has some interesting consequences. That’s the only way I could of seen it being maintained for the benefit of Australian’s.

            i.e. if a pandemic can’t do it; don’t expect it to ever change. Expect it to get even worse going forward.

            Letting in COVID allows open borders and makes people think exactly like that. As my other comment states as a pro-business political strategy playing to the lowest common denominator its genius and brilliant in a horrible sort of way. Plays to propaganda perfectly and allows them to “white ant” support in QLD and WA for what NSW should of done in the first place. The lobbyists and vested interests couldn’t be happier.

      • @LVO …

        I’ve mentioned it more than a few times and backed it up with non politicized medical science that the entire issue surrounding Covid is about providing it the opportunity to evolve into something worse than delta due to its logarithmic evolutionary rates e.g. why do you think they use fruit flies for various generational trait studies … eh …

        It was always going to be a 3 to 5 year open air trial with Covid because its just the nature of a novel virus because both it and humans are both seeking information, of which, we are always going to be a few steps behind. Previously some nasties were localized before they went international, but not this time, because markets don’t have depth on a national level due to efficiency fetishes and never ending equity demands for more arb to goose it, and now all these long lines of information are collapsing in on themselves e.g. throw a dozen rocks in a pond and watch the waves pull each other apart.

        So at the end of the day Covid is not the real threat here, its the rigid ideological framework by which all things are observed and then administrated, more so, the psychological backdrop/baseline most of the population is conditioned by and how that effects both their individual and group dynamic in responding to such an event e.g. people not happy[????] because habits[conditioning] are challenged.

        Look I’ve got nothing personal against you, but the universe was not put here for your personal enjoyment no matter how you frame it metaphysically, so at the end of the day its all about how you position yourself to the challenge and with a bit of luck you pop out the other side intact aka not dead or diminished physically or mentally.

        Look its not hard to see the ideology of why some are pushing for the opening up and let her rip paradigm because the narrative conditioning is under threat and all that time, money, and effort will be for nought i.e. people can not be allowed to deviate from the structural norm enforced by the market at all costs lest they get other ideas about how to live e.g. your just an Atomistic individual in a Newtonian numerical market place of distribution.

        People that are depressed because they can’t consume – at will – would seem an evolutionary weak link considering anthro/natural history IMO.

        Remember mate I went through some of the hardest international military schools and the real stuff and then the private sector filth, not to mention some high level personal family/relationship experiences and I’m still here and relish in every breath I take, because I’ve seen the alternatives ….

    • I did wonder whether some people were holding back on getting vaccinated in order to delay the reopening. If the government had not “accidentally” released the delta variant, we might still be at 40% today.

      • I’m sure the party backers prefer this situation of “living with the virus” vs the WA/QLD situation. You can open borders which appeases the vested interests and allows you to spin propoganda around to the remaining zero COVID states as the places they can travel to gets ever smaller (“can’t live in a cave” forever). Funny thing is the cave is somewhat NSW’s making at least domestically. Makes the alternative of state level quarantined borders seem harder to sell as they increasingly going at it alone (e.g. QLD and WA who due to NSW failure have less scope to travel domestically).

        i.e. If Australia managed to keep COVID free QLD’s position wouldn’t be easy to attack as it is today as domestic travel would still be quite free. Lines like “can’t travel to QLD before Paris” would not be politically effective at all.

        Its perfect politically. My failure (NSW) w.r.t COVID rewards my backers and punishes the people who did the right thing and kept COVID out. It makes the COVID free space available to travel smaller backing zero COVID states into a corner. Lowest common denominator politics. Politically its genius and it will definitely work, especially as lockdown fatigue sets in and people naturally see “that the grass is always greener on the other side” if you nudge them that way (e.g. they can go to Bali, I can’t even if I have freedoms that I take for granted everyday they don’t).

        Medically the jab makes sense, but I can imagine some people holding out on it simply because the end political result of it may be long term worse than the virus itself. Its no longer about health, its now political.

    • As we always knew.

      My new tactic for civil disobedience to the ponzi? Wasting water. We need a coordinated campaign to “Run ‘Dem Taps”. It’s currently the only way I see the puntertariat can stop the population boom. We engineer to run out of water so we prove the higher population cannot be supported.

  6. Is there an easily digestible form of this we can send to our MHR to agitate to keep things as is? Same for our state member.

    PS good job
    PPS this is all quite depressing as we know the vested interests will ignore what the actual voters want
    PPPS where are Albo and Minns?!

    Edit PPPPS – go Dees

    • SupperannuationMEMBER

      They will be aware of the opposition to it but have been instructed to either ignore it or treat it as a messaging issue. The only thing to do is keep banging on about it hoping that enough other people do.

    • Do you think your local member is more interested in appeasing you or the people who preselect him so he can keep his job?

    • Know IdeaMEMBER

      Those who control the financial capital know best, for that is how they managed to accumulate the capital.

      Mind you, at the other end of the political spectrum it is the same thought mechanism that is used, just on different issues.

  7. “In a representative democracy like Australia, our politician’s number one focus should be to represent their voting constituents, not the vested interests of business.
    Sadly, in the unrepresentative democracy of Australia, our politicians and media bend the knee to vested interests in the property/business lobby rather than representing the wishes of the Australian people.”
    The same thing happens all over the world in “representative” democracies. Expecting a different outcome from the same system is banging your head against a brick wall. The system is fundamentally broken if you want it to represent the wishes of the people. To fix it requires a change to another system not tweaking within it.

  8. Ee Zed Eff Kaye Ay

    SBS is already out spruiking an increase like post WW2. They have interviewed Liz Allen who seems to believe that a white monoculture is bad and a large number of Chinese and Indians is what we’ll get.

    The issue is that the neoliberals and wokerati are inadvertently working in unison on this. Expect the wokerati to dismiss these results as insufficient sample size, questioning is misleading and 70% are racialist and we are not. Meanwhile the neoliberals get their cheap labour and supercharged profits.

  9. SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

    these religious muppets like ponzitits and moronson make these types of religious claims of ‘believing’ in a big NSW, and really all that is is a claim of believing in a ponzi scheme.

  10. Boycott Wesfarmers (BUNNINGS, Kmart, Target, Officeworks). It’s a rotten company all about the detriment and damage to Australians and the environment for cheap profits and executive bonuses. All their merchandise is garbage mostly from China anyway. a truly rotten business.

  11. Will people vote on this issue? No. They care about it but they will vote for some other BS like climate change or womens issues or gay marriage.

    So it’s your fellow Australians that are the problem.

  12. This idiot is going to blow it all up.
    The politics of the population ponzi works WHEN IT IS QUIET… Like boiling a frog.
    What a clown.

    • The objective of all this is $$$$$ for the people who own the media and control the numbers in the liberal party.
      That is the objective. Nothing else matters.
      Hello Transuban, Westpac (and the other banks), Wesfarmers, Woodside etc etc

    • The ABC is just an arm of the Morrison Govt pushing its population policies and presenting it as “news” and “informed opinion.” Just as bad is Philip Clark still has a gig on ABC radio, past his use by date at least a decade ago.

  13. Meanwhile in an Age article this week during the same period that we added seven million people, we cleared seven million hectares of habitat. Put simply for every person we have added since the year 2000, we have cleared a hectare of land that is habitat for threatened species. Well done Liberal and Labor Parties and of course The Greens, the social engineering party.

  14. Its amazing to see people here think this is a new dynamic when most of Western history rolls like this ….

      • For all the libertarian corporatist poetry mangled from history none seem to be able or wanting to put it into context e.g. period of divine rulers and some like being slaves or sub humans need husbandry …. profit of course is a divine act from above [manna] and don’t piss off that boss or being ripped apart for eternity is your lot ….

        Now that the trans-nationalist economics has crapped the bed due to a virus that attacks all the JIT EMH, all at the same time, or in rolling waves, the cry is to let the chips fall where they may because the information in those undersea cables are glitching and VaR expectations just inverted and went manifold the opposite way …

        At this rate AGW will be quite the experience … for some …

      • Top stuff, they note “skilled migration alone” cannot fill the “gap” and the poor take up (existing surplus of migrants) is a factor in thiese projects/industries. They also explore why taking from other aligned occupations is not viable. It is a more sophisticated analysis than we are used to which is good to see but the top line messaging still seems to be part of a concerted and well co-ordinated effort to sell excessive migration to the people. Who cooks up this kind of co-ordination?

        • Obviously the private sector will pick up the slack due to demand and the profit it offers …. chortle ….

  15. Even StevenMEMBER

    I will not vote for a high immigration party. I am disgusted by these calls for supercharging immigration. As UE has pointed out, the media is complicit in not drawing out the pros and cons of immigration so we end up with uninformed voters that continue to pick one of the major parties (as they don’t even know their alternatives).

    • I agree with you, but also think that it is important to strike back in other ways. If we put the major parties last, with the sitting member last of all, we help to break up their patronage networks. A relatively small number of such votes in marginal seats would make the government change hands at every election, facing politicians with the prospect of losing office or breaking with their party and doing what we want as opposed to the donors. It would also help to number all the party boxes for the Senate and put the party in government last with the other major party and the Greens second or third last.

  16. I did some preliminary analysis of LGA Covid rates vs LGA ethnicity (Census) and the results were staggering. Incredible that in this woke world it hasn’t been a topic of discussion. The COVID spread in the three massive outbreaks across Melbourne (2) and Sydney has been driven predominantly by migrant populations and in particular by one religious group within those communities. Conversely all outbreaks in LGA’s with low migrant populations (incl Delta) have been contained quickly. Aint mass immigration awesome!

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      Incredible in this woke world that it hasn’t been a topic of discussion?

      I think you’ve answered your own question. Wokeness is more important than facts in many peoples’ minds it seems.

      • As per skips comment above.

        Always has been always will be. Woke is just another term

        Dumb cnuts Gunna dumb carnt

    • The economic lower classes are always a well spring for such events because of their economic status, ethnicity makes no difference, have to work and move due to lack of alternatives e.g. the meat plant workers in the U.S. et al.

  17. Crush loading the country with people is a ‘big policy idea’, LMAO, screw this economic zone.