What we do know about Australia’s population is that it will achieve 25million in August of this year, some twenty-four years ahead of government predictions : former Treasurer Peter Costello told us is 2002 that we would achieve this figure sometime in 2042.
What we also know is that the population growth and migrant intake in the past five years has exceeded one million which happily coincides with the one million new jobs the coalition have told us they have created since coming to office : so that’s one job for every new migrant, right ? Not quite, as explained by the Department of Home Affairs “Some migrants also do not participate in the labour force or have limited work rights (for example, long-term visitors, students and working holiday makers) but still consume goods and services and therefore still add to job creation.”
Even so, that increase in population of one million in the last five years is a record but this is where things get confusing. Peter Dutton commented over the weekend that this growth was due to Labor’s tick and flick immigration policy which evidently means that it is a bad thing. But it tends to ignore the fact that the coalition have been in office during the past five years and, surprise, surprise, Mr Dutton may or may not have been responsible for immigration policy during that period – that morsel of information may of course be confidential and even the responsible (I use the term loosely) minister is not always aware of the scope or breadth of his job.
Then you have that pesky filing cabinet in that second-hand shop in Deakin which seems to have contained all of the data on immigration policy of which Mr Dutton was unaware and which fell into the hands of, you guessed it, the ABC. So, you can see the pattern here : Labor policy (bad), missing population policy (unfortunate) and the ABC (bad).
In the meantime, Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull have both rejoiced in this new population data and said it’s all good as every new migrant is a consumer which means that they pay taxes, buy stuff – not houses obviously but they rent those from negatively geared mates of the coalition and they buy imported cars because we don’t make them anymore – and the fact that our road and transport infrastructure, our health and our education systems are barely coping is clearly due to Labor having had insufficient policies and foresight when in office.
In the interim, Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton announced, whilst visiting the North Brisbane seat of Longman, that the reduction in immigration numbers that 162,417 people permanently migrated to Australia in 2017-18 – well under the 190,000 cap and down from 183,608 the year before was a positive thing and fitted in nicely with the preference deal done with Ms Hanson in Longman. Mr Morrison evidently was not in the loop on this one as he warned that lower immigration levels cost the budget.
When asked by a journalist, who was responsible for population policy in Australia Mr Turnbull, Mr Morrison and Mr Dutton pointed at each other : tune into 2GB where Ray Hadley will be allocating portfolios on Thursday.