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Population Policy found in a filing cabinet in secondhand shop in Deakin !

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.


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  1. wam

    Gfreat read Terence,
    My murdoch induced rabbottian sheep bleat:
    immigration of hordes of muslim men with multiple wive and children are the problem with immigration. Some families get squillions more from centrelink,than Australian families.
    Perhaps that was what howstello meabt there would be 25m Australians and extras like Aborigines, Africans and Muslims were not included?
    ps catholics seem to have perfected rhythm and coitus interruptus???

  2. Egalitarian

    Common Terry C your being a little racist here to these good honest migrants.

  3. Alan Baird

    I note that like all “leftish” sites, all comment has fallen back onto the usual “land rights for gay whales” type issues, the wholesale retreat back into Hawke era neoliberal “economics” now given new life by Tony Albanese. All talk of fairness has been swept from the pages of ALL papers and every possible social issue polished up and thrown into the mix to “take the place of any talk” about progressive tax tables and corporation tax cuts. It’s going to be damned hard for Wayne Swan to clarify the Labor Party’s NEW fiscal fairness as he was shaping up to spruik and it will be near impossible to clarify except by telling porkies or by more of these “look over there” issues. The SMH (Dependent, always) and Guardian (of what?) have been totally revealed to be nothing more than neoliberal clones, and have been fussing about gay whale land-rights ever since. At least the Murdoch Press is honestly lying about the joyous virtues of the neoliberal life, and is openly biased. The ABC has been reduced to a Turkey-style “state-outlet” that will please PM Malcolm Erdogan. Mal has been happier ever since and we await a gushing visit for President Drumpf with ‘bated breath.
    Now that the tax base has been gutted by these giveaways to the upper end of the money spectrum, and the incomes of the lower end “trimmed” on weekends, all we need to do is to hold the same line we have on wages since the Hawke (No child…) era to keep the poor in their place.
    BEFORE all this malarky started up, the Libs (and quite probably a few of the more openly neoliberal Labs) were VERY keen to raise the GST, their preference for flat tax guiding their principles.
    Expect a second go at a GST raising, to help get the budget back at least towards black. And with the average Labor MP on a pretty good screw, what’s not to like about these new tax arrangements if they keep their “enlightened self interest” front and centre?
    I note Bill’s stocks have fallen after Tony’s little foray into Right Wing policy changes. (I always call him Tony now. Can’t think where I got the idea.)
    Tony should be Opposition Leader. That way we could have a perfect three-in-a-row of Liberals praising Labor fulsomelyxxx oops, sorry, I meant sincerely. John Howard calling Bob Hawke Oz’s best PM, Gerard Henderson calling Kim Beasley Oz’s “best” (read unable to land a glove on) Opposition Leader to his beloved John Howard, and now Tony Albanese who is sure to be suitably Liberal-Mild as either Opposition Leader OR Prime Minister, able to run the country in true neoliberal tradition, and able to hand the country back to the Liberals at a pleasing future, just as neoliberal as when they left power.
    Still, it could be worse. Just imagine how fascist it could get if Tony Albanese came from the Right!
    We’ll now be ready for the Great Australian Public to vote in a Trump of our own (an H.L. Mencken type “downright moron”) when the esteemed Liberal and Labor Parties push forward their genuine Oz-style Donald and Hillary to fire up the people’s fervour

  4. guest

    What Alan’s missive needs is accompanying canned laughter and the whole thing put on a loop to go on and on and on…

  5. Egalitarian

    Of course I jest Terry. The population rise is great for House prices remaining high. Even though Mal bullshits that we are getting the brightest and best.

  6. David Bruce

    When the UN allocated caps on populations for each country, Rudd was so happy to announce that Australia would be limited to 35 million. Almost every other country has to reduce their population. We seem to have forgotten this moment in Australian history.

    Where in our original Australian Constitution does it say we must choose our politicians from political parties? It looks to me like the old adage of divide and rule, well described in “The Prince”, by Machiavelli.

    Australia is in the dreadful position of having to vote for party hacks who have no other real world qualifications outside of political parties. No published artists, scientists, poets, GP doctors, construction workers, civil engineers or other disciplines. We have some lawyers and some accountants, who pretend to be farmers or Barnaby bushies.

    When you look at what we are allowing to be done in our names, do we really understand the difference between legal and lawful?

  7. Egalitarian

    Control loves Kaos. More people the more Kaos.

  8. helvityni

    David Bruce, well said; no poets or scientists, but Barnaby bushies, caveman Canavans, people with plenty money, and the aspirational, who want more of it without any qualifications.

  9. guest

    Quite right, David Bruce. I enjoy your lateral thinking. Why have politicians as politicians? We could have a construction worker constructing a new Constitution. A musician could conduct Parliamentary Question Time like a choir. A doctor could sedate the Opposition any time they asked a tricky question. And a poet could ask lengthy questions in rhyming couplets.

    We see something like that happening already. Journalists think they could run the country better just by scribbling long and boring reports on nothing much. Anyone who has been to school could be Minister for Education. Pauline Hanson’s experience as fish-shop owner has given her a broad experience of the world. Malcolm Turnbull has been merchant banker and is well acquainted with money. Tony Abbott has ridden a bike over most of the country and has dressed up as many kinds of tradies to achieve a wide worldly experience. Peter Dutton has had experience as policeman, useful for locking people away.

    One of our honoured PMs was a train driver and knew how to stay on the rails.

    So what is it with our people from different disciplines that they are not offering themselves up for election into parliament or the senate? And if they are, why is it that we are not voting for them?

    And why is it that when we have people who do not have the ability to carry out their political duties, are not even qualified to do the job, we berate and criticise and vilify them and call them dumb and stupid and wish we had real politicians? Why is it we are always moaning and groaning and wishing someone else would fix it up for us?

  10. Andrew Smith

    ‘What we do know about Australia’s population is that it will achieve 25 million 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.’

    Key information is missing, not just that Australia (along with only UK and NZ precluding broader comparisons) use the UN definition of NOM Net Overseas Migration (in EU impossible due to the Schengen Zone), but the same definition was inflated by conflation of temporary movements with permanent immigration and citizens for media headlines in 2006 but nobody noticed? In fact the NOM is merely a indirect barometer of border movements (including citizens) and their interest in Australia, it cannot be controlled (easily) and Cameron et al. in the UK were led to believe that it could be, hence targets/ceilings and Brexit; never designed for that.

    The most significant population or demographic issue Australia and the western world faces is ageing and declining permanent population bases exemplified by falling tax paying workforce to retiree ratios, and the coming ‘die off’ commencing within ten years.

    Conversely, how can the govt. support and maintain the tax base for pensions and services if the tax base declines; increase taxes, cut services etc.? Australia leverages temporary churn over of long term temporaries e.g. students, backpackers etc., without opportunity for permanency and access to services, to act as net financial contributors to the budget.

    Further, the origins of the UN Population Council (Rockefeller Brothers Foundation/Exxon Mobil), plus the ‘immigration restriction’ and ‘sustainable population’ movement should make one pause for thought, strong whiff of the old eugenics movement. As highlighted by the Cafe con leche Republicans in the US, it has been sold to conservatives as a way to attack Catholic Hispanic, Moslem etc. immigrants to split the centre left as an electoral tactic, when in fact it’s an ideology joined at the hip with the old ‘white Australia’ policy (what the hell is ‘white’ anyway?).

    By coincidence in the past week immigration and population have hit the front pages again, are there by elections coming up with conservatives desperate to deflect away from no or sub-optimal policies? Most (mis) representations of immigration and population data would not be acceptable for first year bachelor students but good enough for public discourse in Australia?

    The Conversation had stab at fact checking some of the myths

    ‘A data literate researcher has estimated that the Australian population may well be inflated by about a million people, and due to Australia using the UN definition of NOM, we cannot compare with other nations’ data (statistics 101).

    ‘The alternative story is that sometime in the mid-2000s the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed the definition of an official statistic called “Net Overseas Migration”. The arbitrary definition they had at the time was malfunctioning, and the next arbitrary one they changed to has been malfunctioning even worse. A blithely ignorant press didn’t even notice the change, let alone query the dysfunction that inspired it, so the entire country has been putting their faith soaring population figure that has the integrity of custard. The harder alternative figure shows that our migration rate is actually at. ’

    Australia, the smartest country in the world……

  11. paul walter

    I understand Baird’s plain speaking… I, too am sick of the shopfront of politics employed on a permanent becoming to obscure the ongoing criminality and downright blue murder going on in dark places that destroys the very civilisation itself.

  12. paul walter

    Australia is not a smart country, the public is thicker than twenty consecutive lumps of four-be-two.

    Dumbed down almost to the point of imbecility.

  13. Oscar

    We saw Kate Carnal on The Drum tonight warning us not to cut the populatiton intake for the sake of GROWTH.

    And I just watched Malcom Turnbull on The Project. Unfortuntely he sounded good.

    Shorten is gone for all money.

  14. Kronomex

    On a side note: Can you imagine the screams of outrage from the LNP if it was a Labor, or anyone not LNP, candidate doing what Ruthenberg did “in error”?

    Shock! Horror! Trembles defending Il Duttonuci? Gads, what a surprise. As if he has any choice in the matter –

  15. Steve Bedford

    I wonder if the native wildlife that inhabits the bushland around the edges of our cities and along the east coast are fond of the Big Australia mass immigration program that will see our population reach 40 million by 2050? I’d say that by mid-century there’ll be bugger all bush left along the east coast… it’ll all have been cleared and converted to endless suburbia to house the millions yet to come. And our record extinction rate will continue as the bulldozers roll on. Wither the poor wildlife….

  16. Steve Bedford

    Andrew Smith… your argument about the diminishing tax base has been debunked by numerous informed people over the last couple of years. Just ask Leith Van Onselen aka the “Unconventional Economist” at Macrobusiness for his opinion. You might also pose that argument to the lovely people at Sustainable Population Australia.

  17. New England Cocky

    @Alan Baird: Perhaps successive governments should reduce expenditure from the about $150 BILLION PER YEAR GIFTED, free, gratis, and for nothing to the undeserving wealthy and corporates in the form of tax concessions, rebates, investment allowances, fuel rebates for mining corporations etc, etc, etc. Oops!! Silly me …. “government” is another name for “middle class handout” that the Liarbral Party supporters rely upon for their morning lattes, smashed avocados and smoked salmon. Somehow we have become an economy of “parasitic capitalism” rather than working for the “common wealth”.

    @Andrew Smith: The NLP misgovernment recently announced that there were about 1.7 MILLION persons working under 457 visas in Australia. Perhaps these industries need to provide the pay and working conditions that Australian unions have established since 1852 rather than exploit temporary “guest” workers. Perhaps regional and remote areas require regular injections of government jobs and government funding to maintain a decent standard of living for the Australian communities living there.

  18. Andrew Smith

    New England Cocky: Not sure where you get your data from but according to official stats the 457/482 visa primary holders in Australia (excludes dependents I guess) is less than 100k.

    Steve Bedford: Which parts of my argument are you speaking of, how are they debunked by MacroBusiness and what credibility or expertise does MacroBusiness have in immigration and population growth (apart from dog whistling immigrants and population growth by misunderstanding and/or misrepresentation of data).

    MacroBusiness, often quotes Sustainable Australia, Dick Smith, Bob Birrell, Katherine Betts, Judith Sloan and many other conservatives who share antipathy towards ‘immigrants’, at least non European; common theme is data illiteracy or preference for opinions and bias confirmation.

  19. Steve Bedford

    Andrew Smith… here’s my bias: high immigration drives high population growth which drives demand for new housing which drives clearing of bushland (and death of native wildlife) for new suburban developments. Over the last 50 years I have watched countless tens of thousands of hectares of native bushland destroyed for urban expansion in south-east QLD, largely to accommodate newcomers. As a result koalas are in serious decline here and may be extinct by mid-century. I note that nature or wildlife doesn’t ever enter into your arguments for more population, probably because like so many you just don’t care. You are clearly a growthist ie: one who is addicted to endless growth. You might explain how it is possible for humanity to grow forever on a finite planet, without breaking the laws of physics. Here’s a reading list to help you break your addiction: The Myth of Progress by Tom Wessells, The Growth Delusion by David Pilling, After Progress by John Michael Greer, Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton, Prosperity Without Growth by Tim Jackson and Beyond Growth by Herman Daly. The people who you list in your last comment have been castigated and denigrated by many because they dare to question the religion of endless growth, the primary belief system of the modern world. And of course like so many on the left, you play the race card if anyone dares to question our immigration intake or population growth rate. My bias has nothing to do with race or religion, it has to do with the survival of our native wildlife and natural ecosystems. Why do you think that the federal environment department lists habitat destruction as the leading key threatening process in this country? I, unlike you, believe that wild nature has a right to exist and our soaring population growth rate is DIRECTLY threatening it thru the process I listed at the start of this now lengthy comment. I do hope that after some contemplation you temper your delerious enthusiasm for endless growth and start considering its consequences on the natural world.

  20. Andrew Smith

    Steve Bedford: I come from a culture and angle that is applied to knowledge and learning at e.g. bachelor degree level, higher and includes research. There is a difference between opinions, beliefs and sentiments versus grounded facts, data and analysis.

    Any statement, especially if definitive, linking ‘immigration’ and ‘population growth’ to various other -ve factors, not only has to prove a correlation (which is not causation) but with data analysis, prove that other factors are not involved or also correlated (MB like most mainstream media try to blame one factor for any perceived -ve phenomenon to raise the emotions).

    For example, one cannot simply correlate environmental degradation to (undefined) ‘immigrants’ while we have fossil fuel lobby fighting environmental regulation/taxes, road or traffic lobby demanding more freeways (or tollways) and commuters (including white collar professionals) receiving incentives to drive cars versus other means while public transport is throttled.

    Herman Daly and his ‘steady-state economy’ nativist theory (related to the ‘population bombers’) is a good example of how the fossil fuel ‘big oil’ lobby, old neo-libs or corporate libertarians, with an existing global footprint and infrastructure, ‘manufacture’ or ‘engineer’ theories then policies ideas to both exclude competition or new market entrants and present as ecological, or like their Club of Rome, ‘liberal and environmental’ (while maintaining their own corporate self interest).

    Daly’s theory (saw presented to a global group of younger professionals at a US type business school), produced both silence and disbelief from (non-‘white’) participants e.g. avoid multilateral trade agreements, primacy of the nation state and borders, focus upon goods not increasing services, potential migrants should stay where they are etc.; seems Trump (& Brexit) is influenced by the same to help US corporates and nativists deal with foreigners or foreign competition e.g. the EU (multilateral agreements give smaller nations including Australia an advantage)?

    Daly and others who propose a zero or low growth economy, are disengenuous, as they don’t explain how can an economy be kept at zero without crashing through to negative and wiping out middle class wealth and mobility?

    Where are the examples of such ‘steady-state’ or autarkist type low/zero growth economies, Nazi Germany, Turkey, Peronist Argentina etc. how well have they performed?

    The other popular tactic the flat earthers use or astro turf is to try encourage the removal or modification of the GDP measure so that no will know whether an economy is tracking well or not. The GDP figure (like the NOM net overseas migration) should be viewed merely as a ‘barometer’ that can present performance to the present, and try predict the future, not a panacea but part of a collection of indicators to inform people.

    In the past the trope was ‘immigrants’ cause ‘unemployment’ by threatening ‘workers’ jobs, no evidence whatsoever but the opposite in the medium long term. However, now the argument or trope has been modified to claim that e.g. Australia only has ‘immigration’ to boost ‘economic growth’, again wrong. It’s actually about ‘balance’, back grounded by declining fertility rates, ageing and longevity, to ensure specific labour skills are available, temporary net financial contributors to offset increasing numbers of non-contributors in the permanent population and maintaining balance in the tax base without cutting services.

  21. helvityni

    What about if we start expanding upwards, and start building if not high-rise then at least medium -rise, and doing so not taking too much Lebensraum from Koalas and Possums and other animals…

    The ever- expanding suburbs make our country towns resemble villages, and especially European immigrants, used to apartment living, would find those places rather lonely and therefore prefer bigger cities…

    So build up and keep Oz animals and certain immigrants happy: win/win for Wombats and country towns…

  22. Steve Bedford

    Terribly sorry Andrew for my mistaken belief that immigration leads to population growth and therefore bushland habitat destruction. I’m sure that the vast sea of suburbs carved out of the bushland surrounding Brisbane in recent decades would be populated by native-born Brisbane locals. Not a foreigner to be seen there. And sorry my argument wasn’t evidence-based and accompanied by volumous referenced statistics and graphs. Upon reflection mate, perhaps ditch the book list and just go spend some some time alone in the bush. You might eventually get it. ps… I went to Griffith University School of Environmental science.

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