18 Jan 2013

Migrants Don't Steal Jobs

By Henry Sherrell
The aim of Australian immigration policy has shifted from population growth to boosting the labour market. We should recognise this change for what it is - a positive, bipartisan development, writes Henry Sherrell
In the past two decades, the way people migrate to Australia has undergone a profound shift. We now have an immigration program that sits firmly within the boundaries of economic, as opposed to social, policy.

One of the world's leading academics on immigration, Harvard's George Borjas, argues that the most important questions about immigration policy are: "what do nations want to accomplish and whose well-being should be maximised".

In Australia, immigration used to focus firstly on increasing Australia's population and then on family reunion. However, since the early 1990s, successive governments have viewed immigration as an instrument of economic policy — with the wellbeing of individual Australians to be maximised. This has been achieved by allowing temporary migration to engage in the labour market.

This policy shift did not happen by accident. The economic focus grew out of a recognition that globalisation was changing the interaction of labour markets and growth. While Australian production predominantly relied on low and semi-skilled labour right throughout the Cold War period, skilled labour has become the policy to achieve higher productivity and economic growth in a more globalised world. Underlying this policy has been the dramatic growth in temporary labour migration to Australia since the 1990s.

In September 2012, it is likely that close to 10 per cent of the entire Australian labour market held a temporary visa with work rights. The table below outlines different types of temporary migrants with work rights:

International Student
Working Holiday Maker 145,660
Skilled Business (457s) 175,580
New Zealand Citizens
Skilled Graduates
Total 1,212,100
Australian Labour Market
11,511,900 (seasonally adjusted)

(Sources: Temporary migrant statistics; Australian labour market statistics. Note: The total number of New Zealand citizens in Australia was 644,710, but 21 per cent of these migrants are temporary visitors assumed not to be in the labour market.)

Of course, some of these migrants will not work. This group includes children who accompany adult migrants, spouses who choose not to work, international students who do not participate in the labour market and working holiday makers who are holidaying rather than working. It is also true that there were New Zealand citizens working in Australia well before the 1990s. However the number has grown significantly since that time.

As the vast majority of these temporary migrant visa categories are demand-driven, the government can do little to control overall numbers. In the past, governments would set the number of migrants. This would fluctuate with good and bad economic periods but was always established by government. While this still occurs for permanent migrants, it is temporary migration that drives Australian migration. For example, in 2011-12, there were 184,998 permanent visas granted under the permanent migration program, relatively few compared to the number of temporary migrants in Australia.

Demographer and Australian National University Professor Peter McDonald says this demand-driven temporary migration means, "overseas migration ... must be regarded as endogenous in relation to the economic cycle". Basically, when the economy is growing, more people will arrive. Conversely when the economy slows or contracts, while overseas migration will still occur, it will be slower and less pronounced. The endogenous nature of migration means, like interest rates, governments have very little capacity to control the flow of people in and out of Australia.

While some may consider this a travesty, the shift to temporary migration should be recognised for what it is: positive, long-term and largely bipartisan public policy reform. Migrants bring immediate gains for broader society, in the form of taxes and increased consumption, not to mention the associated social and cultural links. They become our next generation of permanent migrants.

There is an unspoken understanding in Australia that migration is critical to sustain long-term fiscal balance and maintain a sustainable labour market. It may be, however, that not speaking about immigration and its benefits has led to some broad misunderstandings.

The latest Scanlon Foundation survey points to murky social attitudes towards immigration. For the first time, Professor Andrew Markus has released local attitudes to social cohesion, complementing and contrasting with national attitudes. For example the Scanlon surveys find that 10.3 per cent of third generation Australians nationally believe the impact of immigration on daily life in their local area has been somewhat or very negative. However this rises to 33.4 per cent of local respondents in Bankstown, Fairfield, Dandenong and Hume — areas of Sydney and Melbourne that have the highest immigrant concentration and relatively high economic disadvantage.

These results highlight a public mistrust of immigration at a local neighbourhood level. Indeed, the fallacy that migrants steal jobs is entrenched in the suburban mortgage belt that elects Australian governments. This disconnect between social attitudes to immigration and the economic realities is a time bomb. Flashpoints, such as the debate in relation to the Government's Enterprise Migration Agreements program foreshadow future serious social distrust.

Australian public leaders owe the Australian people a conversation about the future direction of immigration.

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Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 11:44

<i><b>...governments have very little capacity to control the flow of people in and out of Australia.</b></i>

So who is issuing the visas then?

<i><b>Migrants bring immediate gains for broader society, in the form of taxes and increased consumption,...</b></i>

They bring immediate and long term costs. Do the taxes they pay actually offset the expenditure on the extra services?

<i><b>...the fallacy that migrants steal jobs...</b></i>
Mr Sherrel appears to have forgotten the laws of supply and demand. How do migrants <i><b>not</i></b> increase the competition for jobs?
Migrants certainly increase consumption and add to Australia's carbon footprint. They also increase the demand for, and the price of, housing. This is obviously good for anyone with more than one house; not so good for a young person trying to buy a first home.

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 12:26

Immigration is ruining our country. Our fish stocks are depleted and our flora and fauna treasures are endangered due to habitat destruction. Cities are encroaching on agricultural land. Residential blocks of land are getting smaller and smaller and the journeys to work are getting longer and longer. Children are growing up in little flats with nowhere to play within earshot of their mothers other than the driveways. The eastern states are coming out of a long drought with more to come, and Perth is dependent on desalination plants running on fossil fuel energy. I call that a drop in living standard.

What little space and water that we have left should go to the descendants of those who were born here, and who built our culture and our living standard.

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 14:50


Thanks for your comment.

In terms of the authority to issue visas, of course you are correct that the Government is the authority that ultimately issues each visa. However my point is that these are 'uncapped' programs that are driven by economic activity. The Government could choose to remove access to these visa categories but in fact, in the vast majority of circumstances, once a valid visa is lodged by a potential migrant, if the application is valid, the visa cannot be refused.

You are also correct that there are costs of temporary migration. Additional expenditure is required in the form of education and infrastructure up-keep. However on a per capita basis, temporary migrants on average, pay significant above the standard Australian in terms of fiscal inputs and outputs. Yes, it is much harder to cost the environmental impact but a parallel argument is that we should stop natural increases to the population given the impact they have on the environment as well. More work is needed to assess these impacts and they should be seriously considered.

On migrants creating more competition for employment, you are discounting the additional benefit this person brings to the broader Australian economy. Over the long run, the impact of migration on the labour market is basically neutral, a position agreed by nearly all mainstream economists (even those who are generally large scale anti-migration). I myself am a relatively young person who rents an apartment however I would look first to the impact of various Government incentives on housing as a price component, such as first home buyers grants and more importantly, negative gearing, as a negative policy that hurts renters.

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 16:45

<i><b>...but a parallel argument is that we should stop natural increases to the population given the impact they have on the environment as well. </b></i>

What natural increase? For 36 years, Australia's fertility has been lower than replacement level. That is, fewer than 2 children per woman.

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 18:57

There's more than a whiff of vested interest about this opinion article. A simple Google does the trick... so it should thus be noted, for accountability, that Mr Sherrell's (public) twitter account states the following:
Henry Sherrell - Policy advisor at Migration Council Australia.

The MCA is the group of big business lobbyists (Business Council of Australia, etc) that have set up an organisation to spruik for population growth. It's questionable as to whether their #1 priority is the wellbeing of Australia's migrants, or the sourcing of more customers and cheaper labour for business lobby groups.

In terms of the shrewdly put heading, the following research from Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Resrach should provide some of the evidence required to inform readers:

CPUR found that:
"Ferocious competition" from nearly a million temporary migrants, including students, backpackers and short-term workers, is fueling Australia's youth unemployment," Professor Birrell warns in a provocative study to be released today.
Youth unemployment has soared 80 per cent in the 20 to 24-year age group since the start of the economic downturn, rising from 4.5 per cent in June 2008 to 8.1 per cent in June this year.
At the same time, the number of foreigners with work rights, but not permanent residency, has grown 4 per cent.

Today in the Sydney Morning Herald, we had it confirmed that this competition is not only ferocious, it is also often illegal and undercutting employment opportunities for the least skilled and most vulnerable Australian workers:

How can we expect Australian workers to compete with illegal and underpaid migrant workers, who are often so desperate to enter Australia and gain permanent residency that they are happy to be badly abused by immoral employers? It would be good to see the MCA/BCA alliance working on that aspect of migrant wellbeing!

There is no doubt that a STABLE POPULATION will, among many other positive things, encourage training, education and employment of the Australian workforce. According to Roy Morgan Research there are over 2MAustralians un/underemployed. Any responsible government would focus on their wellbeing first and foremost.

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 20:53

We need to approach this serious Australian unemployment issue with facts, rather than these tired and manipulative and baseless assertions of the big business-driven population growth lobby.

Here's clear evidence that one of many health industries (in this case dentistry) is suffering from unecessary immigration of hundreds of overseas dentist - often scandalously pirated from the developing world - when our own highly skilled dentists CANNOT FIND WORK:

"AUSTRALIAN universities are turning out too many young dentists, many of whom are struggling to find work, industry leaders have warned... The association's president, Karin Alexander, said the federal government was also allowing many overseas-trained dentists to practise in Australia after sitting an exam."

Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 10:15

In reference to the costs of migration, temporary or long term, the additional investment needed to finance infrastructure is significant-

Assuming a (1) 50 year service life for infrastructure and a replacement cost of 2% per annum on capital invested and (2) a population growth rate of say, 2%, the replacement cost becomes 4%. US economist Lester Thurlow predicted the present infrastructure crisis and its consequences 25 years ago.

I have much the same opinion as most other commenters here, high migration rates are part of usual practice of corporations to impose the costs of externalities on the taxpayers.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 13:21

Quote: "not to mention the associated social and cultural links".

I would like this further explained.
As an older Australian I remember a vibrant European multicultural society and a society more trusting of each other. It appears to have vanished, in the cities at least.

Otherwise I agree with the above posts, especially that posted by EarthFan on Friday, 18 January, at 12.26pm.
It cannot be repeated often enough that Australia is environmentally in no position to carry a large human population. A recent flying visit to large parts of the Outback made that once again abundantly clear to me.

Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 08:19

The two key claims in this article should be debunked individually:

CLAIM 1. Demand for labour

The overall push and central theme of the article appears to be that rapid immigration is inevitable and simply a result of 'demand for skilled labour'. Nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, anyone knows that the Australian government has the power, as a sovereign government, to alter immigration settings.

In the following Sydney Morning Herald article the STABLE POPULATION PARTY also debunked the notion that Australia's immigration is predonominantly 'skilled'. It demonstrated that the 'demand for labour' argument is simply a (deliberate) self fulfilling prophecy that de-skills Australia and thus creates the perception that we need ever more migrants to fill skills shortages. The 'solution' is actually the root cause of the problem. In summary:

'More baills than skills in this migration' - "The key to Australia's skills predicament is that dependants (of 'skilled' migrants) and family-reunion entrants dominate the permanent migration program and create a big annual net skills deficit because of the services they require. Most are not tested for the specific skills we need but still demand skills from doctors, teachers, engineers and accountants, to name a few. This fuels a vicious circle of skills shortages and wage inflation pressure".

CLAIM 2. Migrants bring fiscal balance

Again, the often parroted assertion that migrants increase the tax base needs further (and proper) consideration. Of course migrants generally increase the tax base - but fiscal balance also involved looking at the cost base!

We now have overwhelming evidence that population growth (importantly, by BOTH native fertility and immigration) is at the stage where it has a huge negative impact on local, state and federal government budgets - mainly due to the increasingly crippling cost to expand and/or retro fit our previously excellent and satisfactory cities' infrastructure.

We have already built and designed our cities on certain densities - to now try to constantly re-build and retro fit at increasing speed is many times more expensive per capita - taxes must go up considerably to do as, as outlined by Crispin Hull here in his excellent Canberra Times piece here:
'Higher taxes or stable population' - "At present, of course, those who benefit from higher population have the major political parties’ ears and provide the bulk of their money. They also have the money to provide the propaganda that hides the population elephant in the room."

Ken Henry also backs the claim that we need to raise taxes if we are to support population growth to 'big Australia':
"STATE and federal governments must extract more tax revenue if they are to fund the nation's ballooning infrastructure needs in decades to come, former Treasury secretary Ken Henry says."

Finally, a new study from the US shows that for every $1 of revenue created by population growth, there are infrastructure costs of around $1.40!
“Growth will not pay for itself, but to remain prosperous and have opportunities for your citizens, and to sustain a healthy community you already have, you actually don’t need it.”


All of this clearly adds up to show why Australia has a national infrastructure deficit of $770 BILLION (Source: Infrastructure Partnerships Australia).

The overwhelming evidence more than challenges an "unspoken understanding" among the growth profiteers that influence Liberal/Labor policy (infrastructure companies, land speculators, large retail chains, etc) and demonstrates that population growth is no longer paying for itself as it once was - and that it is greatly impoverishing ordinary Australians.

Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 21:06

@ Population Party (Friday 18 January)

Thank you for your somewhat antagonistic comment.

To clarify – my position at the Migration Council is clearly stated in the bio that accompanies this piece. I believe this is a good level of accountability. Secondly, I don’t speak publicly for the Migration Council however I will note that the President of the ACTU is a director and there is nothing on the website (www.migrationcouncil.org.au) that ‘spruiks’ for a larger population. 50 per cent of the directors are from the community sector, from organisations that provide government-funded assistance to those migrants who are most needy, such as refugees and humanitarian entrants.

The CPUR is also known for having strong anti-population views (for accountability). It is true that temporary migration has grown, something the article highlighted, however there is very little evidence that this ‘fuels’ youth unemployment. Correlation does not equal causation as the saying goes. Further, words like ‘often illegal’ are not based in fact but on individual cases that do not represent the majority of employers and migrants are comply with all migration and employment legislation. Yes, there are those who abuse those who are less able to protect themselves but they are not representative of the majority.

I don’t believe that migration solves all of Australia’s economic and social issues. You are also correct that there are industries that may be over exposed to migrants (Accommodation and Food Services for example). The answer is not to stop migration but to find a positive way forward that reduces any negative impacts of migration while also ensuring that the positive contribution from so many migrants is not lost.

To your point about ‘scandalously pirated’ from the developing world – there is some evidence to suggest that migration as part of a development strategy can be an important consideration in conjunction with more traditional aid such as investment and removing trade barriers (See Michael Clemens at the Centre for Global Development). I’m not saying this is perfect, however it should not be dismissed out of hand and more research is required. New Zealand’s Seasonal Worker Program has garnered significant support in the Pacific as well as in the agriculture sector in New Zealand.

Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 21:12

@ Rocky (Saturday 19 January)

Thanks for your comment. I agree that too often infrastructure costs can be ignored however an important point is that over the long term, the positive fiscal impact of temporary and permanent migrants can be see as cost-positive due to consumption patterns. Sydney is one capital city that has seen poor infrastructure over the past 25-30 years however to lay the blame at migrants is to ignore to ineptitude of others such as local government planning regulations and state government.

As an example of the positive fiscal contribution, I estimate that the current stock of migrants on 457 visas contributes something in the order of $3bn per annum. This contribution is much greater than the equivalent amount of Australian’s (approx. 90,000 and 70,000 family members). In addition, only looking at the cost of infrastructure burden ignores other positive externalities such as skills transfer, filling labour market vacancies and social and cultural links (see next comment).

Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 21:23

@ Marga (Saturday 19th January)

Thanks for your comment.

By social and cultural links, I see two specific benefits. The immediate social benefit is the population itself. In Australia, 26 per cent of residents were born overseas, basically one in four Australians are migrants. In addition, nearly 50 per cent have at least one parent born overseas. This demonstrates the clear social links within the population to migration. These people have become citizens and residents who without migration, wouldn’t be. While you may remember European migration more fondly, there are clearly vibrant Asian, Middle Eastern and African communities now in Australia (places such as Richmond in Melbourne and Auburn in Sydney). Personally, I derive great benefit from these places.

It is also important to say clearly that social trust and ‘communities’ have also been affected by economic forces such as neo-liberalism and political philosophies such as individualism that are significantly more prevalent in our society today than even 20 years ago. Just because this occurred in the same period as migration does not imply blame automatically onto migrants and the policies that facilitated these people movements.

In terms of the environment, I am not well versed. However I would like to see some clear, well supported empirical evidence about Australia’s carrying capacity. Australia’s premier demographers and population specialists mostly agree that current levels of migration are sustainable. Further, given the demographics and aging Australian population, the environmental impact must also be weighted against societal expectations. Do aged people wish to have staffed nursing homes and health assistance in the future? It is highly likely that the majority of these positions will be filled by migrants due to the cost and skill structure of the current labour market.

Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 21:55

@ Population Party (Sunday, 20th January)

In relation to your two key claims;

1) Demand for labour

Yes, the Government has the power to alter immigration settings. But as above, it is the demand for this labour that is shapes the actually level. While the Government could stop International Students from working tomorrow if it wished, this would have catastrophic impacts for any Australian that uses supermarkets, engages with the hospitality industry (restaurants, take out or the pub) and buys general goods and services. Prices would sky rocket given the extreme labour shortages and significantly higher wage costs. The resulting inflation would be a very different issue for the Government.

There is significant economic evidence that demonstrates the additional consumption and investment of migration, particularly skilled migration but also the fees from International Students (as an example), have a positive impact. Even unskilled migration has, in certain labour markets, shown to have positive economic impacts for the destination country. David Card, an economist from Berkeley, is the most prominent from his study into the Mariel Boatlift (http://davidcard.berkeley.edu/papers/mariel-impact.pdf). Key quote; “Nevertheless, the Marie1 influx (7 per cent of the labour market) appears to have had virtually no effect on the wages or unemployment rates of less-skilled workers, even among Cubans who had immigrated earlier.”

It is completely untrue that migrants fuel skill shortages in Australia. There is no evidence for this – it is mere conjecture. Where is the evidence of abnormal wage inflation due to migration? It is true that dependents and family-reunion entrants are the majority of the permanent migration program but as the figures in the article show, temporary migration is the main method of migration to Australia now. There is also evidence that these dependents and family-reunion migrants engage in the labour market, further helping to fill those roles (teachers, accountants etc) that you quoted. For evidence see (http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/research/_pdf/outcomes-contrib...). For the critical role that migration has played in the recent growth in labour market participation, see (http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/research/_pdf/migrants-account...).

2) Migrants bring fiscal balance
The most important comparison point here is how much fiscal impact a typical migrant has vs. the typical Australian.

This report shows that over the first four years of settlement, the fiscal impact of the 2009-10 permanent migration program was estimated at approx. $3.5bn (http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/research/_pdf/outcomes-contrib...). This is for 168,000 migrants. Over that four year period therefore, each migrant accounts, on average, for over $20,000 of net benefit to the federal budget – including children, any elderly migrants and non-working spouses.
This is not overlooking the cost base as it is the net impact.

It is true that most infrastructure does not have an unlimited user base. I don’t quibble either with Ken Henry’s assertion that more tax revenue is required for infrastructure spending. However the net impact from migrants is a good place to start if more revenue is required. There are also a raft of state government reforms that could contribute to a better tax base instead of slashing migrants (such as reforming stamp duty and introducing land taxes as one example).

Spending tax revenue is about prioritising. I believe more should be spent on infrastructure, not because of migration, but because Governments have a duty to fund projects and services that fall victim of market failures, such as public transport. As permanent migrants bring a significant net benefit to the fiscal position of Governments (which doesn’t even touch on the benefit of temporary migrants who have a larger positive impact), there is little evidence that migration does not pay for itself, plus deliver a significant fiscal dividend. This acts to greatly enhance the average Australian, as will the future benefits that help soften the impact of the population aging.

Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 13:42

Circular arguments are employed: "Basically, when the economy is growing, more people will arrive". Since the population is increasing by roughly 300,000 every year, this adds an enormous amount to growth and thus it seems we must have even more people. What would happen if we slashed migration and the underlying economic growth rate became negative (which it probably would in Victoria without the house building industry)? Would you argue that we needed even less people?

To quote you Henry "In terms of the environment, I am not well versed". This is the problem. Classical economists do not usually take the environment into account, however the economy is a SUBSET of the environment. You cannot package the economic benefits of migration without considering the impact to the environment. This includes many things, however climate change, soil quality, impact to native species are some of the things that come to mind.

We can still have migration and a stable population. A stable population would deliver us many benefits, however as it would not line the pockets of the growth industry, it is not touted by the mainstream media as an option at all.

Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 15:22

@ Grinja

Thanks for your comment.

It's not a circular argument. Migration does not cause the majority of economic growth. The endogenous nature of migration means migration is a response to growth. I don't argue for more or for less people - I think it's good policy when growth allows for more migrants and when weaker conditions persist, less migrants arrive given the more limited scope of employment.

I also wish I was a classical economist. I do believe however that if migrants are a net benefit (which they have shown to be in the purely fiscal sense), then the ability of Governments to manage this process is the central question - not the amount of migration. Government management of infrastructure, urban planning and other investment is what should be at the top of this agenda as opposed to baiting a certain group of people over another. What is the difference, for example, between a new migrant and a new baby? I realise there are normative differences (and don't get me wrong, I don't oppose natural births for Australian residents), but in terms of an environmental impact, I would the younger person will do more damage over the long term given the longer life expectancy.

I also worry about the broader public's expectations. Currently, people expect their kids to be taught in classrooms of 25-30 kids and that childcare providers staff for every 3 or 4 young children. Nursing homes are also subject to similar staffing requirements relative to the number of aged people living there. In the future, with current demographic trends, these societal expectations will either have to change radically or more migration will have to occur.

I really am not an agent of the 'growth' industry as you put it. I'm a progressive, as opposed to conservative, and union member. I don't own a house and worked in the public service before moving to the Migration Council. I encourage debate with people and groups who do not believe in migration, however crude rhetoric is not pleasant. I also agree that there should be more debate about migration and population in Australia. You are correct that the mainstream media often overlooks the policy issue - however there are exceptions. Ross Gittins writes about labour markets and population, as do some other 'eco-journalists' such as Jess Irvine. Bob Birrell's most recent report got a fair run in the Australian as well I remember.

Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 20:27

henrysherrell I congratulate you, you actualy read peoples posts to your suggestions.

But now lets get real.

Alan Greenspan was a Genius when it comes to Economics. Guess what we still had a GFC and the Yanks gave us every depression for 100 odd years.

We killed and or displaced about 150 million people in Europe between 1915 and 1945 because the 4 wealthy Nations that controlled 85% of the worlds wealth and Manufacturing were in competition for the worlds few rescources and therefore wealth.

8% of the worlds population controls 85% of the worlds wealth because of consumerism, consumers that no one wants to employ, but everybody with a shitty little business selling something expects someone to have this miracle cash.

77% of all Australians earn their income either directly as in a Nurse or Teacher and/or indirectly from the Tax purse in the case of people working for an Infastructure companies.

We all take out our Gross/100% of our income and then give back 33% of what wasn't ours. We keep 67% and spend it in the community. We buy Cars, houses etc.

So where does the Tax Purse find the money to increase Infastructure and services to house and look after more and more people who do not pay taxes, just consume.

Now stop talking rot and or just repeating some garbage you have read or heard and think about why white man is even here, in America, Canada, N.Z. Who actualy pays Taxes, if at all and why have we had recessions and Depressions every 10 years with the Business cycle or Consumer confidence cycle since the start of Industrilisation, which basicaly means. Dig it up, or plow it, turn it into something consumable and then con someone into needing it, wanting it, consuming it so you can make more, sell mkore and make more profit in currency terms which soon deprciates because of the volume thats been aquired and then needs to be turned to Gold to get rid of it so we can borrow more currency into exsistance via Debt.

Your whole argument has no bases in reality, it is just another bubble project that will eventualy burst, like the housing bubble etc.

Ireland is a perfect example, why export so many children out of Ireland for so many years, then when they tried the bubble principle by building garbage that no one had a job for, to be able to afford and couldn't borrow for and if they did. BANG.

Buddy. I'm sorry. Think outside the square. Your like a Train on tracks and the Track is that garbage you were taught as a Youngster, in Uni etc.. The problem, you believed it. The Harvard Business Model is shot. Democracies are failing, because of people like you who speak words not wisdom.

Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 21:51


Your responses contain too many assertions to respond individually, but a couple of points:

"In terms of the environment, I am not well versed. However I would like to see some clear, well supported empirical evidence about Australia’s carrying capacity."
In 1994 the Australian Academy of Science published its findings on population. In considering the resource needs of our cities, and Australia's supply of water, minerals and arable land it concluded: “In our view, the quality of all aspects of our children's lives will be maximised if the population of Australia by the mid-21st Century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range, i.e. to approximately 23 million."
Google the report, then factor in climate change and peak oil...

"Australia’s premier demographers and population specialists mostly agree that current levels of migration are sustainable."
Only those that source their funding from government and big business (property developers)

"The CPUR is also known for having strong anti-population views (for accountability)."
The CPUR argues FOR immigration, from what I've seen in their reports, but just not the level that SA demographer Graeme Hugo notes is 3-4 times the per capita intake of comparable developed nations.
Is Hugo also anti-immigration, simply for pointing out facts about Australia's very high immigration rate?

"Further, given the demographics and aging Australian population, the environmental impact must also be weighted against societal expectations. Do aged people wish to have staffed nursing homes and health assistance in the future?"
You claim that immigration can resolve an ageing population issue
- but the Productivity Commission debunked this - and immigration has actually increased the average age of Australians.
The Productivity Commission stated clearly that it cannot make any significant or lasting impact on population ageing: “substantial increases in the level of migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age”.
A 1999 Australian parliamentary research paper, entitled "Population Futures for Australia: the Policy Alternatives", looked at the claim that immigration could offset an ageing population. It found that in order to maintain the proportion of the population aged 65 and over at present levels, "enormous numbers of immigrants would be required, starting in 1998 at 200 000 per annum, rising to 4 million per annum by 2048 and to 30 million per annum by 2098. By the end of next century with these levels of immigration, our population would have reached almost one billion."
THAT'S a nursing home problem!
The paper concluded: "It is demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young. No reasonable population policy can keep our population young."
Importing younger migrants to stave off ageing is an irresponsible pyramid scheme that only leads to a bigger number of 'aged' people down the track. Due to large-scale post-war immigration, in 2006 almost one in five (19%) of the overseas-born population were aged 65 and over compared with only 11% of the Australian-born population.

On the subject of vested interests (for accountability):
You use Scanlon as a reference point - he was outed as a large scale property developer by the Herald Sun. It's hard to take his research as independent after reading this article:
'MAJOR investor and former Elders executive Peter Scanlon hardly blinks when asked if his conspicuous support for a bigger population is also good for business.'

This is the murky world of population advocacy and government policy influence. It leads to all sorts of half-baked 'research' that is then used to advoocate for more growth. But the real world evidence is that population growth - by both native fertility and immigration -is crippling government budgets and has negative economic, environmental and quality of life impacts on Australia.

Finally, if you don't think that foreign students are competing for entry-level jobs, just head down to Coles/Woolies/7Eleven. Theyt're good staff and good on them for taking advantage of lax laws. They're looking for permanent residency to get their fanmilies from the developing woprld to the first world. Who wouldn't have a little extra spring in their step in that situation and be just that bit keener to work weekends, etc?

Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 19:37

PopulationParty thank you.

Keep up the good work and lets keep the B's honest.

Posted Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 11:02

@jackal01 - will do. Thanks.

Here is more evidence that demolishes the author's main assertions.

More and more 'foriegn students' (who are nowadays largely economic migrants) are being unfairly and illegally exploited as cheap labour by unscrupulous employers. It is now widespread in the restaurant trade as outlined in this Fairfax investigation, and as the Monash University CPUR reports, clearly undermines employment opportunities for school leavers, etc:

"Scores of overseas students are threatened with being reported to immigration if they complain about wages."

Posted Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 12:57

@ henrysherrell,

Agreed, however, the problem is the length of the "long run" relative to our short political cycles and their obvious consequences.