Why facts (voters) can’t beat Huge Australia groupthink


By Stephen Saunders

Dominating “Huge Australia” stakeholders are a diverse lot. United however, by false immigration narratives that railroad voters. It is extremely difficult to counter in woke Australia. 

In late 2022, the Treasury held the Jobs and Skills Summit, which featured 140 handpicked participants for Big (now Huge) Australia. No dissidents were allowed. Federal agencies and the media weren’t direct participants either.

The Summit endorsed a 195,000 (now 190,000) “permanent” migration intake, with band-aids for “training” and “housing.”

Albanese’s Labor romped to an unheard-of 549,000 net migration in the year to September 2023. It will likely be well north of 400,000 this year. Canada and Australia are world outliers in the low-immigration OECD bloc.

Historical NOM

Labor still claims that its mega migration is catching up for COVID. It is not government policy (a straight out lie). It is merely solving visa backlogs (hilarious). And the Coalition had higher migration (patently false).

In late 2023, Clare O’Neil released guru Martin Parkinson’s Migration Strategy. It boasted of generational reforms, fixing a broken system, and halving migration.


Stakeholders accepted this abysmal propaganda and would not undermine it publicly.

Their “conversation” ignores Albanese’s 75% hike on Rudd Labor’s crazy immigration record (see above chart). They also ignore Albo’s one-sided qualifications and immigration deals with ultra-nationalist Modi India.

They dine on Treasurer talking points (budget surplus, inflation, cost of living “relief”) and perennial immigration fibs.


We are a “migration nation” they say, importing “skilled” migrants. It is boosting “jobs and growth”. Better “planning” neutralises immigration concerns. Emissions magically shrink as population swells. Immigration counteracts ageing. And only racists oppose mass migration.

Actual mass-migration impacts – historic productivity and per capita fails, struggling infrastructure and environment, collapsing household incomes and real wages, all-time rental crisis and housing unaffordability – are swept off the table.

Greens-Labor theatrics misrepresent housing as a wicked supply-problem. Meanwhile, wicked politicians superheat the demand side with endless migration and tax incentives.


Who are these stakeholders?

Electors and the environment have never been worse served by Huge Australia. Yet it’s more powerful than ever. This poses a historic challenges for voter-friendly voices. Evidence bounces off the stakeholder mafia.

As an experiment, I skimmed the “cream” from Summit list. Then I added in essential stakeholders, particularly federal agencies and mainstream media.


This yielded a list of eight stakeholder groups and 100-plus agencies/individuals. Including the 40 Summiteers, it was hard to find a dozen notable agencies challenging the Huge Australia narrative. None attended the Summit.

The groupthink is less stifling in the US and EU where low-migration parties can turn or win elections.

Among the five major blocs in Federal Politics – Liberal, Labor, National, Greens, Teal – voters have no low-migration option. The time-stained Liberal-Labor duopoly locks them out.


Federal Agencies are notable propagandists for Huge Australia. These include the Treasury portfolio, Home Affairs/Environment, ABC/SBS, ANU/CSIRO.

The Treasury, Reserve Bank, Productivity Commission mandarins enjoy lush salaries for un-seeing the massive migration. Treasurer’s fatwa denies that Huge Australia drags on productivity.

The Budget absorbs the GDP “benefits” of migration, while States and Cities absorb the costs. Yet states adore their Huge Australia debts – Victoria almost to bankruptcy.


States are reliant on Commonwealth grants and also captured by Industry and Developers who dominated the Summit. More population = bigger business + flatter wages.

In their spare time, corporates Atlassian and Fortescue “save the planet”. But they don’t mention population. 

Economists, Urban Planners, and Demographers are soothsayers of Huge Australia. “Better planning” is their default prescription.


A couple of (actually) independent economists query endless population growth.

While guru Ross Garnaut bemoans Australia’s “lost decade” for productivity and wages. He ignores the mega migration, arguing that we can leapfrog to “energy superpower” with “zero carbon” exports. It is music to the Treasurer’s ears.

The Media is compromised. The Federal Press Gallery and National Press Club (NPC) tend to repeat the government line and lob marshmallow questions. They love their advance drops.


Migration martinet Katharine Murphy parachuted from The Guardian into the Prime Minister’s Office. NPC President and ABC Board Member, Laura Tingle, has always been an immigration partisan.

Outfits like News Corp, Nine, ABC/SBS, Ten, Seven, The Guardian, The Conversation, normalise Huge Australia. Some (News Corp/Nine again, Canberra Times, Sky, Daily Mail) also cover the negatives.

It is good for News Corp and Nine. But it means little, unless paramount chiefs Lachlan Murdoch, and Peter Costello put the screws on Huge Australia. But Costello as Treasurer started the fiasco.


Universities and Unions are meant to serve our students and workers. But Huge Australia comes first, especially overseas students.

In the 1980s, even 1990s, professions and trades would have queried Albanese’s radical Modi agreements. Not now, because that would be racist.

UN climate policy has hijacked our population policy. Taking UN “net zero emissions” as gospel, our university herd recommends (convoluted) climate mitigation not (easy) population mitigation. Although unchecked population growth greatly increases our ecological footprint.


Climate not population policy motivates Think Tanks and Interest Groups. TAPRI and SPA push back.

Some think tanks (CEDA, CIS, Grattan) are growth lobbyists. Others (Academy of Science, ACF, Australia Institute) strategically ditched the population issue. Greens caved first in 1998.


Low migration? That’s racist. Climate/green/housing/women’s/religious lobbies are virtually (virtuously) obliged to reject it. Tough luck for equality and opportunity.

These backflips indicate the 21st century dominance of the identity-based left-liberal culture of woke-ness. Identity measures (politics) replace equality measures (politics).

How to counter stakeholders? 


The disastrous Albanese legacy will be 250,000 net migration as a minimum. It will be set as Treasury’s “normal” or floor for net migration, even though it is three times our 20th century average.

For the virtue-signalling Greens, even 300,000 is discriminatory. Earth to Max Chandler-Mather, we never topped 200,000 net overseas migration before 2007.

Only a global pandemic disrupted Big Australia, so what on earth could derail Huge Australia? Visibly, Huge Australia groupthink covers the spectrum of power players – public and private, “left” and “right”.


There is little use targeting landlord-politicians alone. To win pre-selection is to favour open borders. Industry and developers dominate (buy) them.

Revenue-sensitive mainstream media offers limited windows to counter the lies.

But also be sceptical of “public” service universities, unions, economists, planners, and lobbyists. Their mega-migration equity stiffs fellow Australians. Call out their hypocrisy.


Stakeholders generally seem uncaring that Huge Australia depreciates living standards and the natural environment. Newer orthodoxies on racism and climate change support them.

But most Australians want low migration – and low population growth isn’t racist. 

There are hundreds of millions in the OECD whose chummy reports endorse Albanese’s climate policy and open borders. Yet, most member nations practise very low immigration.


Check Australia’s 17-million electoral roll. With poll after poll supporting low migration, are they racists?

Conceding the 7-1 Voice debacle, Albanese noted indigenous inequalities. But they refused to acknowledge the division between powerful city-enclaves (Yes) and the rest (No).

Power, not the people, loves mega-migration. Voters lack voice and choice.


But climate policy doesn’t fix overpopulation – and overpopulation doesn’t fix the economy. 

Despite our population mushrooming to 27 million, educated groupthink says water-challenged Australia can gallop to 40 million. UN “climate action” and “net zero” will fix it.

Wait on – population growth drives growing emissions and a failing environment. This is the Anthropocene. Ignoring chronic over-population and under-productivity, the Treasurer and elite stakeholders romance green superpower as our economic homerun.


By design, few of us can absorb the sheer mass of UN IPCC climate-crunching reports. But it’s not rocket-science. Huge Australia has divisive economics and lousy “climate policy”.


Albanese’s Huge Australia is dug in. Stakeholders riff on curated immigration fibs.


To inconvenient facts and evidence – even the stark housing misery – they give short shrift.

It is awfully difficult to counter when their prevailing (woke) mindset is open borders and “net zero”.

Despite Opposition gestures of concern, low migration won’t be offered at Election 2025.


Huge Australia is unstoppable, unless massed stakeholders flip. They’re too selfish.

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.