Fake green Teal demands mass immigration

Anybody hoping for sensible policies from our teal independents should be taken aback by Independent Teal for Wentworth, Allegra Spender, who penned a contradictory article in The AFR preaching environmental “sustainability” while simultaneously calling for a big increase in immigration:

Government must provide a clear pathway to sustainability.

My priority will be to work with the crossbench and the government to accelerate decarbonisation. The 2030 target I set was at least 50 per cent reduction, in-line with the Business Council of Australia…

While I support Labor’s focus on building Australian skills, business urgently needs short-term relief. And this can be done without standing in the way of wage increases for Australians.

We need to raise skilled migration to 220,000 a year for the next two years, urgently address pathways to permanency, and proactively bring back working holidaymakers.

How could Allegra Spender’s emissions reduction targets realistically be achieved with Australia’s population swelling under mass immigration?

The Intergenerational Report (IGR) projected that Australia would add 13.1 million people (a 50% increase) over the next 40 years on the back of extreme immigration levels of 235,000 people a year:

Australia's forecast population level
Australia's net overseas migration

Allegra Spender’s immigration proposal would obviously accelerate Australia’s population growth, making her emissions reduction targets impossible to achieve. It would also lay further waste to Australia’s natural environment as land and resources are chewed-up to provide the homes, infrastructure and other goods and services required to meet a much larger population.

The impossibility of Australia meeting its emissions target in the face of mass immigration was laid bare by lecturers at Deakin University in 2019:

In signing the Paris Climate Agreement, the Australian government committed to a global goal of zero net emissions by 2050. Australia’s promised reductions to 2030, on a per person and emissions intensity basis, exceed even the targets set by the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea and the European Union.

But are we on the right track to achieve our 2030 target of 26-28% below 2005 levels? With one of the highest population growth rates in the developed world, this represents at least a 50% reduction in emissions per person over the next dozen years.

Consider the impact of one sector, the built environment. The construction, operation and maintenance of buildings accounts for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. As Australia’s population grows, to an estimated 31 million in 2030, even more buildings will be needed.

In 2017, around 18,000 dwelling units were approved for construction every month. Melbourne is predicted to need another 720,000 homes by 2031; Sydney, 664,000 new homes within 20 years. Australia will have 10 million residential units by 2020, compared to 6 million in 1990…

A 2018 University of Adelaide-led study entitled Implications of Australia’s Population Policy for Future Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets also noted the direct (obvious) link between population size, emissions and environmental degradation:

It is clear from our demographic modelling and the available data on net overseas migrants that Australia’s future population is entirely contingent on its immigration policies… The current demographic state of the Australian population is such that if all net immigration were halted today, the population would stabilize by the mid-2040s and decline only slightly thereafter, achieving nearly the same population size that it is today by mid-century…

Whether Australians choose to limit their future population growth is entirely another matter. The country’s natural systems have already suffered severe degradation of ecosystems…

In this context, any policy that seeks an even larger Australian population would need to be carefully focused on how to achieve this goal sustainably, while mitigating (and, in some situations, reversing) these threatening processes. Given the rising environmental damage globally from a large and growing human population (Bradshaw & Brook 2014), Australia has the rare option to limit this damage by adjusting its immigration policies accordingly…

Based on current population policies, the projected growth in the Australian population will make its already challenging future emissions-reduction goals even more difficult to achieve. In addition to the rising pressure of Australia’s population on its ecosystems, the country’s future greenhouse gas emissions are also partially tied to its immigration policy…

With a 2020 target of 5 per cent reduction in emissions (relative to 2000), a 27 per cent reduction by 2030 (relative to 2005) and potentially an 80 per cent reduction by 2050, Australia has no credible mechanisms in place to achieve these goals… it seems unlikely that Australia will be able to achieve either of these two targets without substantial policy changes across population, energy, agriculture and environmental sectors.

Given that Australia has less than 14 years to meet the 2030 target, and less than 34 years to meet the putative 2050 target, and that a reduction in per capita emissions of 83.5 per cent would still be required even under the extreme scenario of no net migration…

Irrespective of these challenges, any increase in Australia’s population will make these targets even more difficult, such that a business-as-usual projection (scenario 1) would require a fivefold greater reduction in per capita emissions to reach a 2050 target of 80 per cent reduction compared with the zero-immigration scenario and produce ~10 per cent more emissions…

More population growth driven by immigration will hamper Australia’s ability to meet its future climate change mitigation commitments and worsen its already stressed ecosystems, unless a massive technological transformation of Australia’s energy sector is immediately forthcoming.

The most recent federal government State of the Environment report also noted the added destruction of Australia’s natural habitat caused by rapid population growth:

Australia’s population growth and economic activity continue to pose major environmental challenges, according to a comprehensive five-yearly stocktake of the country’s environmental health.

The federal government’s State of the Environment 2016 report (prepared by a group of independent experts, which I chaired), released today, predicts that population growth and economic development will be the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change…

We continue to lose agricultural lands through urban encroachment…

Coastal waterways are threatened by pollutants, including microplastics and nanoparticles…

Population growth in our major cities, along with Australia’s reliance on private cars, is leading to greater traffic volumes, which increase traffic congestion and delays as well as pollution…

While Australia’s emissions depend on many factors – including our energy use patterns, exports, and how we live – Allegra Spender cannot deny the fact that Australia’s high population growth (immigration) policy will make it next to impossible to meet our targets nor safeguard Australia’s environment.

Population multiplied by units of consumption equals total environment impact. It’s not rocket science.

Allegra Spender needs to quit the hypocrisy and confront Australia’s population addiction head on, since it is a direct driver of our environmental malaise.

If this is the quality of the Teal Independents, then Australia will be on the same path as previously. Meet the new MP, same as old MP.

Unconventional Economist


  1. You should raise these points with Simon Holmes a Court because he’s the one doling out the cash to the teals.

    • DodgydamoMEMBER

      Also I’d suggest the teals should be more likely to be receptive to well laid out intelligent arguments on sustainability and immigration levels/population growth because they aren’t beholden to the same corporate masters as the incumbents they displaced.

      • Mr SquiggleMEMBER

        Except for Simon Holmes a Court, they probably owe a favour or two to that guy

  2. Only one of the contradictions staring at Australia.

    Consider the staggering future demand projections for metals due to the electrical revolution: Cu, Ni, Mn, Zn, Sn, Co, Li, REE.
    See the Four Corners piece a fortnight ago for a primer.

    Many big holes will be dug, to the horror of the conservation minded. Yet necessary to replace fossil fuel burning. Sure, we can recycle some metals – but not nearly enough to meet demand.

    • Peter SMEMBER

      For example, over the next 20 years, the world will need to mine as much copper as has ever been mined previously.
      Most of the Li and REEs needed for a low carbon future have yet to be discovered, let alone financed, developed, produced and fabricated.

      • An inconvenient truth, and copper is getting particularly hard to find in large economical qtys.

  3. I really have the impression that many of the teal independents are really LNP types who could not be pre selected. Ditto for the greens party who wave been invaded by ex-Australian Democrat types.

    • Of course they are! They’re representing their LNP constituency with a dash of climate action and ICAC. As Leith points out the problem is the contradiction in being elected on the climate action platform and now pimping for destructive population growth. This is particularly damning on the Teals because none are stupid (they don’t have the hopeless naivety of Green youth).

    • happy valleyMEMBER

      At least they don’t seem to be the right wing happy clappy nutter types to which the LNP has become totally captive and they may actually have ethics, of which the LNP are totally devoid.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      The only major disagreements the Teals have with standard Liberal party doctrine is climate change and ICAC.

      If Turnbull hadn’t been turfed, they probably wouldn’t even exist.

      Nobody should be surprised by this.

  4. working class hamMEMBER

    You have to have cheap migrant workers in the inner city. How do you expect a female professional to afford a house cleaner, au pair, gardeners and the myriad of other services required, to allow them to decompress after a long day in the office?
    Australians demand far too much reimbursement for low skilled labour, entrepreneurs are really struggling to find cheap, reliable workers, to run their businesses whilst they concentrate on their passion projects.

    • What significant country has NOT been built on slave (incl. convicts) labour? Seriously

      • Started with the RomansMEMBER

        The Romans did it more fairly than some others.
        In Herculaneum excavations have shown i after 10 years a slave gained freedom, full citizenship and many became middle class.
        Better than the American history pre Civil War, where even the children became enslaved.

    • Not working class lifeMEMBER

      But the killer for the elite is renovation labour costs – up 50 to 100K as no underpaid migrants, so workers have to get full wages now. All houses there get a minimum 200k renovation, now 300K.
      Enough to make you spill your red wine over the designer rugs.at dinner parties.
      Have to put off buying a new Porsche for a year.

      • working class hamMEMBER

        Paying real wages is cheaper in the long run. Real wages for real tradesman. Not volume builder under cutters, that you spend weeks, cash and stress trying to fix their sub standard [email protected]#t.

  5. Spender is no orphan. The whole IPCC prospectus for “climate action” and “net zero” has been eagerly adopted by the Australian elite, as a fashionable means of doing rewarding victory laps at the expense of ordinary Australians.

    Of course she wants to “accelerate decarbonisation” while destroying the environment and crushing jobs and wages. In the gilded Matt Kean circles where she moves, no one is going to point to any discrepancy.

  6. Forget about emissions & koalas let’s put this into simpler terms the typical Aussie can relate to. In 40yrs time we, our kids & grandkids will be living in half the house we are today & be paying 16x as much!
    (if cities don’t double in density then you’ll be enjoying much longer commutes)(16x based on property doubling ever 10yrs 😉)

    • International students don’t have a cap though, so businesses know what to do. MOAR!

      • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

        “International students” can now work 40 hours a week under the new rules –
        ie do no study.

        They are the source of the underpaid cheap restaurant and construction labour.

  7. reusachtigeMEMBER

    What I find hilarious is that any of you thought any of these key movements were going to change. You would have been better off with Scomo and his great leadership!!

    • First sentence – Yes! But it doesn’t hurt to feel like we’re doing Something/Anything….. we need some hope.
      Second Sentence – Absolutely NO – in any wording/action even a Dark Triad could understand!

  8. kierans777MEMBER

    We know that one of the reasons mass immigration is supported is because it helps keep a lid on inflation by keeping a proportion of the people poor. A question that was posed to me was how to keep inflation low while improving conditions for people, increasing wages, and ending mass immigration. If there is a good idea on how to achieve that we won’t have a repeat of the 1996 election in 2025 where the Liberals bludgeon Albo with the inflation bat.

    • No need for $8 an hour jobs.MEMBER

      The underpaid jobs are not used if they cannot support paying a minimum wage. That business model is not valid.
      Productivity, automation, working smarter.
      Does anyone really need a 4$ delivery for Uber or shopping. The world would not end without them.

  9. I expected nothing less from the Teal Wahmenz. They seem like the LNP with less corruption. So far.

  10. RatedAAAMEMBER

    To be fair to Ms Spender, she did say the next 2 years, which after -50K the last 2 years would average 85K p.a., which I believe is roughly your preferred annual intake?

    • Nope. Permanent migrant intake was 160k last year. They handed PR to those already here. This means they won’t go home and Australia’s population base will still grow strongly over time.

      The permanent migrant intake is the long-term driver of Australia’s population growth, since temporaries must eventually go home (even if many stay for years on end). Temporary migration drives NOM flows over the short-term.

      • RatedAAAMEMBER

        Well then, I’ll shut up 🙂

        Only other argument I will make is it does seem as though many hospitality operators are very short staffed at the moment, if you’ve dined out recently it’s noticeable in terms of the quality of the wait staff.

        • Peter SMEMBER

          Element of truther there, but the hospitality industry, like so many others (mining) has neglected training a pipeline of staff because it was too easy just to pick up an Italian or French temporary visa holder to work for a year or two.
          All businesses need a training budget and in the hospitality space, really, there are too many outlets. The market would be very well served by a 30% reduction in coffee shops and cafes so that those working there currently can go and takeup entry-level mining jobs to $100 K pa. Skilled miners get $1500 per shift.

          • “The market would be very well served by a 30% reduction in coffee shops and cafes…”

            100%. The proliferation in cafes in Melbourne has been mind blowing. Why does Melbourne need so many cafes, especially when many cannot survive without migrant slave wages?

            Half of them should shutter with labour and capital moving to more productive jobs/industries.

        • Sure. Hospitality is short staffed. But they pay crap and are overly reliant on wage theft from temporary migrants.

          They should try paying decent wages. Then their shortages should resolve.

          • A reduction in annual/biannual holidays to the gold coast would help heaps in reducing this bloated fake economy. But hey, Leith needs his holidays no matter what, covid be damned, economy be damned Leith needs the GC and apparently the GC needs him, until he decides hospitality is a bloated industry.

            C’mon mang, how about some consistency. Lol

  11. MB readerMEMBER

    I saw her talk about the increase in immigration. In her defence, she proposes a short term increase for two years to address current shortages. If we take into account that we have had zero immigration for two years, then an increase in numbers to 220,000 for two years would mean an average of 110,000 over the four year period. This would equate to an annual intake in line with MB’s views. If the two year period was extended, then I would be concerned for the reasons that you state.

    • Nope. Permanent migrant intake was 160k last year. They handed PR to those already here. This means they won’t go home and Australia’s population base will still grow strongly over time.

      The permanent migrant intake is the long-term driver of Australia’s population growth, since temporaries must eventually go home (even if many stay for years on end). Temporary migration drives NOM flows over the short-term.

      • MB readerMEMBER

        But aren’t you mixing apples and oranges here? What are we talking about? New temporary arrivals, many of whom might be permitted to stay short-term and then depart, or permanent residents? I recall MB publishing some figures some time ago showing that net new arrivals over the previous 12 months was barely positive, if positive at all. Presumably but I don’t know for sure, Allegra Spender is seeking 220,000 workers for two years, not 220,000 permanent residents. If a large number of these workers were to depart after two years during which time Australian workers are trained to do their jobs, then I would think that is a net benefit to Australia. And surely when we are talking about net emissions and numbers of people, we need to consider the number of people standing and sleeping in Australia, not their legal status.

        • Given she’s said we need to expand pathways to permanency, presumably she wants permanent migration lifted. How else can you read it?
          The only way we could lift temporary skilled migration without the carrot of PR would be to lower standards (which are already too low) much further. Then it wouldn’t be “skilled migration”. Heck, it wasn’t genuinely skilled migration pre pandemic.

        • Also, if you think 440k migrants would come over the next two years and then magically leave, you are dreaming.
          I’ve got no problem with skilled migration, provided these workers are paid well above the median full time income (see yesterday’s post). But if you do this, you won’t get anywhere near 220k a year. That can only be achieved by tanking entry requirements/standards, which are already low.