Morrison readies mass immigration deluge

Prime Minister Scott Morrison ran the media gamut over the weekend spruiking that ‘skilled’ migration would return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2022, and that Australia’s international border would remain open no matter what.

In an interview with the Saturday Herald-Sun, Scott Morrison told the paper that “skilled migration will be back to normal by the first half of next year to ease critical workforce shortages across the country”.

He also told 9News that the federal government’s post-COVID economic recovery plan includes the return of skilled migrants:

“We are going to have a business led recovery here in Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said…

Since Australia shut its borders, businesses and industries have been struggling with a shortage of workers.

Whereas Morrison used a speech to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to state that skilled migration to resume “as soon as possible”.

When asked about a “Big Australia” policy would be part of the immigration reboot, Morrison deflected to the old canard of ‘migrants to the bush’:

Mr Morrison said the government needed to “get the balance right” on migration, with new arrivals funnelled into regional areas to prevent further housing affordability and congestion issues in capital cities.

Pre-COVID levels of immigration is a ‘Big Australia’ policy. As explicitly noted in the latest Treasury Intergenerational Report (IGR), Australia’s population will increase by 13.1 million (~50%) over the next 40 years on the back of mass immigration of 235,000 people a year:

Australia's projected population growth

This is the equivalent to adding another Sydney, Melbourne plus Brisbane to Australia’s existing population.

Australia’s economic performance in the decade leading up to COVID was abysmal, with per capita GDP and income growth collapsing:

Australia’s labour productivity growth also collapsed amid the extreme pre-pandemic immigration:

Australian labour productivity growth

Recall that Professor Gary Banks – the long-time former chief of the Productivity Commission (PC) – has shredded the planned reboot of Australia’s mass immigration policy, warning that it will wreck the nation’s productivity and living standards:

“Immigration obviously increases the size of our population and thus our economy. But it need not raise the incomes or living standards of the existing population. And that should be the primary goal, at least in economic terms”…

“In per capita income terms, empirical studies by the Productivity Commission and others have repeatedly found that the gains from immigration are small and largely skewed to migrants themselves. And that’s without considering environmental and other negative impacts”…

[Big Australia] “ignores the capacity of our economy and society to absorb migration running at more than twice the rate Treasury itself had previously projected. More people obviously require more infrastructure and more services”…

“To the extent that migrants are more highly skilled than locals in areas where these are needed, then of course that should help our overall productivity performance”.

“But there are questions as to whether in practice migrants have been meeting that test. Indeed there is some evidence that the definition of ‘skill’ has got more elastic and permissive over time. The surge in the skilled immigration over the past decade coincided with a slump in Australia’s productivity performance, which also is not encouraging”…

“Business groups and the universities naturally want to maximise the intake so as to increase their markets and their revenues. But immigration has wider costs and benefits across the community. These need to be assessed and discussed in an open way before decisions are made”…

“There has to be a better way.”

Separately, Gary Banks recommended a level of net overseas migration (NOM) of only 90,000 annually, not the 235,000 projected by Treasury’s IGR:

Treasury’s budget forecasts envisage net immigration getting back to its previous annual peak of 235,000 by 2025… One has to question whether, federal budget repair aside, attempts to revive immigration to the extent forecast would be sensible from a national interest perspective. While Treasury is perhaps understandably bullish, the Productivity Commission has provided a more nuanced assessment. This suggests that, under realistic assumptions, immigration does little for either participation or productivity nationally in the long term, with income gains in per capita terms small and largely skewed to migrants themselves…

When externalities such as congestion and housing affordability are taken into account, I’d suggest that the optimal level of net immigration for Australia could be closer to Treasury’s forecast in the first IGR of 90 000 than the latest one.

Sadly, don’t expect much pushback from Labor. Over the weekend, leader Anthony Albanese penned an article in Herald-Sun supporting a strong skilled migration program:

The current gap for skilled workers we will need to fill through migration includes engineers, geologists, nurses and aged care workers…

Skilled migration will continue to be required to meet demand for workers in a growing economy…

Thus, the bipartisan ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration is back. And with it, Australia’s economy will again be zombified with painfully low per capita GDP and income growth, alongside poor productivity and wage growth.

Repeating the same mistakes all over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Seen how much Covid is spiking to all time highs in many countries. Countries that immigrants might come from

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      Morrison’s plan is back to the future – pre Covid 19.
      It was great for the Shire comfortable Middle class – low wages for the servants, cheap restaurants and Uber ,,100% or $ `1 million per 5 years house prices/ You have to gift some of it as Bank of Mum and Dad as kids can only get gig economy jobs as the rest went to temporary immigrants, but a small price to pay. Other peoples kids no worries.

      To rephrase for the post truth era –
      “Repeating the same mistakes all over again and expecting a same result is the definition of getting re-elected”

      • Speaking as someone from “The Shire” I can tell you we don’t want Scott Morrisons mass immigration. What was once a nice place to live has been destroyed by overdevelopment (albeit not as much as Western Sydney). Ugly, poorly built high-rises along the train line from Cronulla to Sutherland have ruined what was once filled with nice family homes. The roads are clogged, people everywhere. I can’t wait to leave.

  2. Pankit ShahMEMBER

    Skilled immigration is not a beer tap, you just open and pour. The skilled Immigration visa process currently takes 1 year or more. You cant just magically bring people in by Mid 2022. Canada, NZ and USA (H1 Visa) already easier and quicker. Many people choose other countries over Australia. Scomo is the guy who shut the border for Australian Indians. No relaying on Indian immigration and vote.

      • Pankit ShahMEMBER

        A few days ago ScoMo said that ‘He believes that he has never told a lie in the public life’

        Who I am to

        • C'est de la folieMEMBER

          Doesnt ‘believe’ is the twist of the knife in the back of truth there…..

          He is a man who believes in talking in tongues and the direct experience of the manifestation of God in his life too

          Belief (and what ScoMo believes) my take strange forms, and may only have a passing acquanitance with actuality.

          • Pankit ShahMEMBER

            ScoMo to Public – I never lied.

            Because a lie is the perception of people having different opinions about the fact. So basically public need to change their perception as I am your leader. And Leader never lie.

    • “Skilled immigration is not a beer tap, you just open and pour”.

      Australia will have no problem attracting migrants. There are literally millions clambering to come here from developing nations. ‘Skilled’ is a misnomer anyway. Being able to make a coffee is considered skilled these days.

      The whole system is a farce.

      • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

        The Uber drivers, cafe workers, restaurant exploited workers, cleaners, and bar workers often have a full degree from overseas. Just no jobs in their field.
        Skilled up to keep wages down here.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      On average the migration program never has been skilled and going forward will be even less so. This is just a wage exploitation exercise now I think.

    • There may be prospective immigrants who already have an approved visa from applications done 2-3 years ago but were not able to come due to the border closure.So the pipe line has potential 2×250000=Half a million immigrants ready to board the plane as soon as the border reopens.

    • Pankit ShahMEMBER

      In Oct 2021, 120 international students arrived, down 99%Current visitor visa Subclass 600 (family sponsor stream) take 8 months. Hugh backlog on skilled migration visa, tourist visa and working holidays.

      Immigration was on hold during the pandemic and not visa factory was also shut down due to uncertainty. So certainly not 2 x 250,000 got visas in the last 2 years.

    • Exactly, and they also need to have a desire in coming to Australia, to then be told by media they are not wanted…. while there are increasing opportunities elsewhere due to ageing and inverting population pyramids; working age taxpayers are in demand (to subsidise and support increasing numbers of retirees); cannot be turned off and on like a tap in the short term.

      Further, this Banks person formerly of the PC, misunderstands demographic and economic data analysis, but speaks of no per capita economic gains by ignoring any credible outside economic research. This is in favour of biased native or local research using ‘per capita’ (why, more meaningless headline data?), one is sure that the residents of Prahran housing commission flats are always complaining that their per capita income not comparing well with that of Toorak down the road…..

  3. Repeating the same mistakes all over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

    Like voting for the same political party again and again?

    • There’s no differentiating choice though. Liberal, Labor, Greens – they all support big migration. They only offer small differences in terms of composition.

      Pick your poison. Choose Coalition for big migration and corruption. Or choose Labor for big migration and kowtowing to China.

      • IronorebustMEMBER

        Well said and can you blame them. We dont have much else to offer post China. In WA we have roads and trainlines and all sorts of things going to build the largest urban sprawl with the fewest people per m2 in history. You should see it. They arent stopping soon because if we did the reality of how bad our situation really is would finally be apparent.

      • And pick either party, for the Biggest Lie, on climate change. That is, the driest continent can continue extracting fossil fuels, keep up deforestation and land clearing, continue to waste water, grow its population 40%, and still nail “net zero”.

      • Given those choices I’ll put up with the corruption to avoid being under the CCP jackboot.

        Getting a federal ICAC and finally involving RE agents, lawyers & c. in KYC/AML shouldn’t be this hard.

      • Why not put the big four parties last with the sitting member last of all and the party that is in government last in the Senate? Put every nutcase party ahead of both of all four of them, after any sensible parties like Sustainable Australia. The Neoliberal/Big Australia parties are environmental vandals and enemies of the people. Hit them where it hurts.

      • Conservative ‘whataboutery’ to preserve the LNP status quo including following legacy media in avoidance of anything about climate science, mitigation measures and regulation, in favour of Kochian GOP tactic of dog whistling immigrants and (potential) younger members of the population, and unions or workers; there is only a generation of baby boomers left to promote eugenics, dumbing down and the class or social order.

  4. IronorebustMEMBER

    And before anyone says we need a national plan we couldnt agree on a nationwide roadmap with vaccines and state borders opening.

  5. SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

    if only the sustainable australia party would grow some balls and just campaign on the immigration facts

    • kierans777MEMBER

      Agreed. The question is, how do it it without the entire debate being shut down with cries of “racism”?

    • They used to be called the Sustainable Population Party. Since that time the problems of mass immigration for years on end have become apparent to the majority of people so it might be time to change the name back.

    • I would imagine things must get pretty violent to be an MP in that party. Im guessing there’s a lot of vested interests looking to destroy Sustainable Australia Party as its contrary to there financial interests.

  6. Yeah – because the regional housing situation is in such a stellar shape after the past 2 years. But yeah, what did you expect from Liar in Chief? Why do you think they (both parties) kept absolutely mum about immigration for the past 2 years? And instead let all these small voices make a racket, spend their ammo, get forgotten so that closer to the event they can unleash the beast…

  7. So when will Australia have its first National Security Event? A bomb in our major capital cities or a Canberra Foreign Interference takeover?

  8. Scummo’s first priority is to deliver for his masters. Won’t help his re-election.
    Problem is that this is not BAU now he is actively choosing to restart it and will be judged on it.

  9. This will only progress until we get a whole bunch of new virus variants and COVID hospitalisations will fill back up and Premier’s will bring back lockdown or quarantining, so perhaps those new facilities may come in handy after all.