An inconvenient truth about rising immigration

March 3, 2008, Ross Gittins:

JOHN HOWARD never wanted to talk about his booming immigration program. It seems Kevin Rudd's lot doesn't want to either. Why not? Because it just doesn't fit.

For Mr Howard, it didn't fit politically. Didn't fit with the xenophobic rhetoric he used to win votes back from Pauline Hanson and to wedge Labor.

For Mr Rudd, it doesn't fit with any of his professed economic concerns - about inflation, about mortgage stress and about climate change.

You'd hardly know it, but we're in the biggest immigration surge in our history. According to Rory Robertson of Macquarie Bank, net immigration has exceeded 100,000 a year in 12 of the past 20 years, having exceeded 100,000 only 12 times in the previous two centuries ...

In his first 100 days, Labor's Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, announced an increase of 6000 in the skilled immigration program for this year, a liberalising of the working holiday visa scheme and a committee to propose ways of making the 457 visa scheme more effective.

The third point in Mr Rudd's five-point plan to fight inflation is to "tackle chronic skills shortages", and part of this is to do so through the immigration program. Clearly, the Government believes high levels of skilled migration will help fill vacancies and thus reduce upward pressure on wages.

That's true as far as it goes. But it overlooks an inconvenient truth: immigration adds more to the demand for labour than to its supply. That's because migrant families add to demand, but only the individuals who work add to supply ...

The Rudd Government professes to great concern over worsening housing affordability. First we had a boom in house prices that greatly reduced affordability, and now we have steadily rising mortgage interest rates ...

Why is this happening? Probably because immigrants are adding to the demand for housing, particularly in the capital cities, where they tend to end up ...

In other words, winding back the immigration program would be an easy way to reduce the upward pressure on house prices.

Finally, there's the effect on climate change. Emissions of greenhouse gases are caused by economic activity, but the bigger your population, the more activity. So the faster your population is growing the faster your emissions grow ...

It's obvious that one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce the growth in our emissions - and make our efforts to cut emissions more effective overall - would be to reduce immigration ...

My point is not that all immigration should cease forthwith but, leaving aside the foreigner-fearing prejudices of the great unwashed, the case against immigration is stronger than the rest of us realise - and stronger than it suits any Government to draw attention to.
Sounds good to me. Apparently I'm in need of a wash now but, before I go, here are some more reasons to resist the 'immigration fix' mentality, from Oz Conservative:
In a society which tried to develop through its own resources there would be a concerted effort to fix the problem.

There wouldn't be such a lax attitude to family breakdown, to drugs or to a developing culture of failure or hopelessness.

Once, though, you accept the idea that a worker from anywhere in the world will do, then local dysfunction can be overlooked.

One other point. Open borders is always presented in terms of a gain in skilled workers. It can easily work the other way, though.

If we are not members of a distinct people forming a nation, then we will not have strong loyalties keeping us to any one country.

So if England is just a place to live, rather than a homeland for a distinct people, why wouldn't skilled workers there pack their bags for somewhere less crowded and sunnier?

As it happens, England and Holland seem to be losing their best and brightest in droves. Nor is Australia immune - there is an exodus from Sydney gathering pace - a city which not so long ago was boasting that it was destined to be a creative capital.
And more reasons from Nz Conservative:
From a producerist point of view the main reason we have a skilled labour shortage in the West (especially the English-speaking West) is misallocation of labour.

How many smart, talented people are wasted in high paying unproductive jobs in PR, advertising, non-essential legal services (eg immigration lawyers) real estate, pc university studies, counselling, sports management, non-essential NGOs (think most of the UN) etc, etc.

Even the police force wouldn't need as many people if society was run along more conservative lines, with greater discipline in schools and homes and lower immigration etc.

Liberalism isn't just about social excesses, its also about waste and extravagence in all areas of social and economic organisation.
I think counselling, within reason, has a place. But there is otherwise much waste and extravagance leading to misallocation of labour.


Anonymous said...

Yes many of the migrants are skilled Irish and English who are coming out with the Euro and the Pound and putting the Aussie out of a job and house in his own land. There is no water in Australia. How the hell do we stop immigration when the immigrants control the country. Once Australia is fucked up they will move on with their EU passports to somewhere else meanwhile the Aussie will have to rebuild.

Abandon Skip said...

Nobody said it would be easy. How to balance the mix of race/ethnicity/religion, infrastructure, water, environment, jobs, and wealth - all whilst being politically impotent? No head, no body - where does a nationalist/anglo-euro-christian movement start? In search of ideas and people to share them with. A long road ahead ...