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The challenge to migration policy is to go beyond easy headlines

It seems the broad debates around migration, and often skilled migration, are little different from one country to the next. The United States is currently considering sweeping migration reforms that include…

Debate around skilled migration can degenerate into political footballs. AAP

It seems the broad debates around migration, and often skilled migration, are little different from one country to the next.

The United States is currently considering sweeping migration reforms that include the provision of citizenship pathways for the 11 million undocumented workers residing and working in the US, as well as the relaxation of restrictions on guest workers. There are hopes these amendments will improve an immigration system many feel is broken. But the process has been mired in predictable bitter political wrangling.

Here in Australia though while we can always strive for improvements, our migration system is far from broken. While the context of the debates may be different to the US, the nature and lack of bipartisanship of the debate around skilled migration can be remarkably similar.

For example, discussions around the 457 visa category ignites a variety of predictable responses from various interest groups. Like many, I abhor Gina Rinehart’s approach to labour relations, which seems to a rely on a “race to the bottom” approach of opening the labour market to cheap labour.

However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need to value what’s working with our work visa policies and fix what’s not. There is no doubt that like many other economies, we have skill shortages in some key occupations. While training should (but unfortunately has rarely been) the first priority of the government, employers and industry groups, immigration has always been a mainstay to our economy.

Also why should Australian workers be forced to relocate their families to remote areas of West Australia or Queensland if they have no community or family networks there? By the same token why should workers on 457 visas attract inferior rates of pay and conditions as those doing the same work? Both suggestions go against our tradition of protecting labour standards and giving all workers a fair go.

Enterprise Migration Agreements for the resources sector, as well as the 457 visa system can be sound policy innovations that seek to address some of the problems of skill shortages. However schemes such as these need to be closely monitored.

In both cases, employers should be made to show categorically that they have attempted to recruit workers locally and they should put medium-term programs in place to train in the areas they have a shortfall rather than relying on temporary stopgap measures. Indeed, like all systems, these visa schemes can be rorted with ANU demographer Peter McDonald estimating perhaps modestly that 2 or 3% of employers are exploiting the system.

Also we shouldn’t forget that the temporary worker and student visa categories have become important pathways to permanent settlement for many migrants. As such we need to avoid scapegoating (skilled and student) migrants and recognise their contribution to this nation, both now and in the future.

Just like the Hispanic gardeners that sculpt the beautiful front lawns of many Los Angeles suburbs and the backpackers who pick fruit in rural Australia, the contribution of migrant workers should not be overlooked. Nor should their rights to fair wages and conditions.

In the last few months, both sides of politics have weighed in on the migration debate, but not always in very useful ways. Joe Hockey’s “accusation” that the Prime Minister’s communications director John McTernan was on a 457 visa, was just one example of how discussions around migration can become an irrational and tiresome political football.

While such posturing might attract momentary headlines, they suffocate more important discussions about how to deal with global issues of migration and for that matter integration. If we don’t have the skills locally, then there have always been two options, train within or import from outside. We need to do both.

That means not tainting 457 visa and other temporary workers as “the other” as well as getting serious about training and upskilling local labour by supporting rather than destroying our TAFE system; resourcing rather than retreating from our tertiary sector and targeting investment in training at reasonable cost to all Australians. As such the bigger failing is that Australian governments continue to disinvest in education and training for local workers.

Migrants buffer an economy and continue to shape the places we live and work in positive ways. They are people, not numbers in a visa sub class. As we heard at the conference in Los Angeles, migrants make a valuable contribution not only because of their readiness to contribute their job-ready skills but also in making the short-term transition, at their own cost often, to a new country.

Whether they sculpt your garden, pick the apples you eat, design your house or teach your children, migrants often migrate with the clear intention of contributing to their own and their new country’s quality of life. The real challenge of migration policy is to consider all these factors free of corporate opportunism and political populism.

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91 Comments sorted by

  1. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    There reaches a point where a country has too many people.

    Australia has too many people.

    There reaches a point where immigrants are brought in to provide services for other immigrants.

    Australia is bringing in immigrants to provide services for other immigrants.

    Jobs are being created for immigrants, and that is now removing jobs for those born here, and pushing down wages.

    http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/cpur/the-impact-of-recent-immigration-on-the-australian-workforce/

    Immigration and increasing population is also destroying out environment, pushing up the costs of housing, creating congestion and large infrastructure costs, and slowly eradicating our culture.

    There are few if any positives.

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    1. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "Australia has too many people"

      So, Dale, when are you leaving? :)

      Beggars belief that intelligent people think a landmass the size of Australia cannot support higher population density... (I'm looking at you, Bob Carr et al)

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      I always wondered why they were spending dollars on desalination plants, and why so many species are now under threat, and why billions are being spent to reduce road congestion, and why the eyesores of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisvages keep getting worse every year.

      Its because Australia doesn’t have enough people.

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    3. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Natives don't have to leave. This is our home.
      I direct you to Chris Owen's very succinct comment.

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    4. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Seconded. I wish someone remotely right wing actually was allowed to write for the conversation.

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    5. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Wright

      Almost all the people Dale is referring to also have Australia as their home. Dale is the one that feels strongly that the numbers have to go down, I'm assuming he's putting his hand up to volunteer.

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    6. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Its actually not about the land mass, it is about the ability for the arable/usable land to sustain the population. We continue to build on our limited arable and productive land thereby reducing the capacity of "the landmass"to sustain us.This is a global issue too.

      In Australia we live on the second driest continent, yet we still have fantasies of living a European/ English lifestyle, with green lawns exotic fauna that require lots of watering and fertilising !!

      I appreciate your input Dale ;) I do agree with your point to Chris"There is no thought to the long term carrying capacity of the land" .

      We really need to review the whole way we live and interact with this living planet, this includes the so called "quality of life" and the full cost of this.

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    7. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      I do hope to leave actually.

      If certain things go well, I’m getting out of the place, and unlikely to return even to die.

      Australia can only be mentioned in past tense, or what once was.

      It is now a paradise lost to narrow thinking, ponzi schemes and too many people, (much like the current sate of rest of the world).

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    8. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Martin Male

      Ever been to Israel? Almost no natural resources (OK, Leviathan et al may change that, but not yet). Dry as a low-flying emu's crotch. High population density.

      Interesting that the high wage-differential caused by remote-area mining/gas projects hasn't gone away much. Why don't Australian migrate where the money is? No infrastructure (as in, simply places to live, plus entertainment etc)? It's not the water supply.

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    9. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Where will you go?

      I was thinking somewhere in the Mid-West USA, myself.

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    10. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Totally Correct Dale. The above article is mush. More about the author's value system and politics and pretty well devoid of facts.
      Here's a question for Diane:
      What percentage of the last 1,000,000 immigrants have:
      1/ exported more than imported?
      2/ brought with them to Australia a payment to the taxpayers for the overheads on medical, transport systems, roads, schools etc?
      3/ compensation to Australians for time and money lost in traffic jams, discomfort in jammed up trains, increases in…

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    11. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Wright

      So presume you agree there's probably not really a resource constraint then. Mid-west USA is more densely populated than many similar areas in Australia...

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    12. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Frank, leaving aside your questions - I assume you are not one of the last 1000000 immigrants (by the way, did your ancestors pay for the congestion and drain on infrastructure they caused?).

      How exactly would you propose to reduce the population? There is a natural increase, you know. Involuntary euthanasia? Contraceptives in the water supply? Forced emigration?

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    13. John C Smith

      Auditor

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      The real question is who controls our immigration? Is it the registered local and overseas immigration agents? Is it our local and overseas controlled education istitutes? Is it the local and overseas Human Rights and associated industries?
      The Skilled migration is another racket. how many motor engineers are driving taxis? The 457 visa holders I come accross cannot be called skilled in an area where that that type of skilled workers are not available. Where local skill is not available or where…

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    14. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to John C Smith

      You're simply being racist. Why on earth would we import Irish more than Sikhs (to pick a pair)?

      Mind you, the idea of simply selling immigration for cash is attractive. Actually we already do it (as do most other countries).

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    15. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      No Andy, I'm not leaving aside my questions.
      Why are you?

      My ancestry is in fact: 1/ not relevant and 2/ none of your business.

      As for your third pip: The latter choice. We can start with those convicted of crimes which ordinarily bring a custodial sentence. A lot of organised crime can be repatriated to country of origin. Especially people smugglers.

      What would be the cost / benefit toss up there? Well, given the recidivism rate of our justice system a lot of future crime can be nipped…

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    16. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Martin Male

      We are currently exporting 70% of the food we grow so it's a lie that we have built on all the arable land.

      WE are in fact feeding 70 million people already.

      Fair dinkum some people are ridiculous.

      But here is a question for the we are full brigade.

      AS the population of the world expands why do you think we can still the tide and keep this island rotting in it's own juice?

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    17. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Culling maybe? They could single out the brown ones and shoot them, it has been done before after all.

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    18. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Your ancestry may be relevant. We're all immigrants here. Your argument might be paraphrased "I'm a member of the lucky sperm club nyah-nyah-na-nyah-nyah"

      Exporting immigrant criminals? OK, that gets rid of maybe twenty a year. Now for the remaining few hundred thousand each year.

      But that wasn't my point - there is a *natural* increase i.e. people already here including you and me having more kids. Going to cull them?

      Shortages of power eh? Did you know power consumption has been dropping the last few years?

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    19. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      And Marilyn, Australia, on current trends will be a Net Importer of food - when?
      http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/australia-a-net-importer-of-food-20101027-173kl.html

      The observation that so much of our arable land (scarce in Australia to begin with - read Future Eaters by Tim Flannery for an overview) has been turned into the concrete and asphalt jungle is not new and rarely challenged. (And I've known market gardeners desperate to sell to developers - only to have corrupt governments…

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    20. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Frank, it pays to read the fine print.

      The SMH article says Australia is a net importer of "food and grocery products", not "food".

      So we're a net importer as long as you ignore shiploads of grain and livestock leaving our shores... which of course would make us a net exporter again. Depends how you want to spin it.

      What sort of economic planet do you live on? Last I checked food-related balance of payments had nothing to do with defence - do you think we pay the army in sacks of wheat, or buy tank parts with lamb chops?

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    21. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      I would suggest that Israel is not a good example without the billions of $$ that the US gives them they would struggle to exist !

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    22. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn what I actually wrote was "We continue to build on our limited arable and productive land thereby reducing the capacity of "the landmass"to sustain us." I didn't say we had built on all our arable land.

      How about we make this discussion a little less personal and stay with the point, having a conversation about this article?

      I know for a fact that we have been building on our arable land ,just look @ Melbourne , Sydney, The Gold Coast and Brisbane outskirts 30 years ago. Most were used to produced food, now it is covered in housing and roads

      I grew up in regional NSW and have seen large tracts of land that was producing food now being broken into housing estates and medium density housing.
      We really need to consider a systems approach to the population issue, it is not a simple issue of immigration. Immigration can benefit from a similar approach , I would suggest.

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    23. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Martin Male

      Ah, but they also waste billions on their military situation. Maybe it evens out.

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    24. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Israel is not a good example - they have been stealing their water resources from several other nation states. Thus a time bomb in the making when the water runs low. Same with a fair number of US states, where water wars are imminent. And wars they will be

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    25. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      No Andy, we are not all migrants.
      This chant - is an Orwellian abuse of language - and very popular amongst socialists, communists and other twisted players. So be careful taking it on.
      And your naive assertion that Repatriating immigrant criminals would amount to 20 is typical of the concerted leftist campaigns for overpopulating and de nationalising Australia. No basis in fact is required - so long as we chant the same slogans long enough and consistent enough to turn the chant into an Orwellian…

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    26. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      That article says that.
      The context is that it is a subset of total food imports soon to exceed exports.
      "As Australia’s total food exports (by value) decline,
      and imports increase, we can expect years in the
      future when net exports drop to zero or below
      and the nation becomes a net importer of food.
      About 95% of food imports are substantially and
      elaborately transformed products. "
      -- http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/PMSEIC-Food-Impact-Statement.pdf

      AAFI's forecast was the year 2030.
      Under free trade arrangements of course and with a communist PM only too willing to sell off farms to foreign, Nuclear armed adversaries (to ensure their food security) - ordinary Australians will be reduced to soylent green as they have to compete with foreign consumers.

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    27. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Dated 2010 (but containing figures only up to mid 2008), so 5 years old. Given the astonishing rate of increase of productivity in agriculture (and the lack of predictability of future changes in productivity - both positive and negative), I'd say it's just a guess.

      I can see at least two factual errors in that document, which, despite your comment, contains no forecasts at all! It's a plea for more R&D funding, so perhaps a little slanted.

      Besides, ever heard of Riccardo (comparative advantage)? We don't actually need to balance our food imports/exports...

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    28. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Oh yes we *are* all migrants. Unless you have some breakthrough evidence contradicting the evolution of man on the African savannah.

      I'm amused you think I'm a leftist! But bewildered that I'm somehow supposed to account for Griffith University mafia - a place I have never been and people I don't believe I've ever met. Surely you're not trying to play the man and not the ball? Or just throwing in a diversion?

      Even if the birthrate is below the replacement rate (around 2.1 per female over their…

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    29. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      No Andy Saunders, you maybe a migrant to Australia - I'm not.
      Your repetitious chanting of that piece of Leftist dogma is dreary.

      Correcting you again. Persuasion to return our population to an ecologically and economically sound size is not necessary. All we have to do is refuse Visas. Really, really simple. Refuse Visas.

      As to your unsubstantiated claim that "immigrants are a net benefit" - you are of course, massively wrong. Hope you don't work in education... In Melbourne for instance…

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    30. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      No idea why you think I'm a migrant - happen not to be.

      Why is almost all the economic research wrong about the benefits of immigrants, and your anecdote about the Westgate Bridge is correct?

      Last period (Q1 2013) imports to Australia: $25391m, exports $25419m. Oh dear, a trade surplus. Bugger when the facts get in the way of a good opinion, isn't it? Those exporting industries just mustn't exist. Or maybe the 0.01% of your imagination just punch well above their weight?

      Maybe, just maybe…

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  2. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    You get the impression from the article ('Joe Hockey!' 'Gina Reinhardt!') that right-wingers are somehow the ones muddying the waters on immigration.

    Sadly it seems it's progressives who are conflicted.

    'Aussies are at the back of the queue', foreigners rorting 457 visas, immigration destroying 'our' environment, immigrants taking 'our' jobs, Good god - it's like the guy from Love Thy Neighbour.

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    1. Paul Wittwer

      Orchardist

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James, try reading the third para from the end which is entirely devoted to training and education failures most recently attributed to this government. There are plenty of other criticisms of the system sprinkled throughout the article which the present government must take the blame for.
      Try not to be so defensive.

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    2. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Thank you for a well written and balance article on an issue that needs some heart and clarity. I agree with you James there are ay too many comments on this issue that some to come from "Love thy Neighbour". Not sure that these people are "progressives" though ;)

      It is true we do need to consider a population level that is sustainable. This also requires that those of us who live here live sustainably too. We all need to consider reviewing our behaviours rather than making the solution an external…

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    3. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      I dont agree with you concept of "The ponzi system of growth through immigration" I would agree that it is growth without consideration of the full costs and at any costs, including living standards and the environment.

      I have several client who have experienced exactly what I have described in terms of losing staff. They have even used immigration as an attempt to resolve this.This may change now as a result of the contraction?

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    4. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Martin Male

      Ponzi demography schemes rely upon creating more demand by increasing the population (usually through immigration).

      Unless there is something fundamental propping up the ponzi scheme, the scheme eventually crashes.

      Now that the mining boom may have peaked or could be in decline, there is little fundamental in place to keep ponzi demography going.

      We will all pay for that ponzi scheme, but the natural environment (or what is left) will be impacted the most.

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    5. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Rather successful Ponzi schemes then: Australia (and the US, and Canada, and others) seem to have hoodwinked the world for several centuries.

      But I agree with your point about externalities (to the extent they are not paid for).

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    6. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Maybe Australian "nativists" should leave and go worship their guru John Tanton in the USA and submit some articles to his highly regarded "white nativist" journal The Social Contract Press, as several notable Australians in the "movement" have done over the years.

      The anti pop/anti immn movement transcends political boundaries, it's one reason why Howard used dog whistling and Tanton et al use proxy environmental arguments (to co opt progressives and enviornmentalists), and my concern is the…

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  3. Chris Owens

    Professional

    Our population policy is a business conceived ponzi scheme supported by both sides of politics. It is designed to (temporarily) prop up consumer demand, real estate prices and provide more competition for limited employment opportunities to drive down wages and conditions.

    There is no thought to the long term carrying capacity of the land or the deteriorating quality of life for the existing population.

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    1. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Chris Owens

      ABSOLUTELY. Thank you for such a succinct summary of our current predicament.

      This is absolutely what is driving it.

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    2. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Chris Owens

      Sorry, and your evidence is?

      Plenty of economic research shows migrants are good (even for those of us already here).

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    3. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Declare your interest in this debate, Andy.

      Are you in education, are you an employer? What?

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    4. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Wright

      Interest? Human.

      Not an employer. Not in education (except I try and learn what I can).

      You?

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    5. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      So, you are a native of Australian then.

      So why are you disagreeing with your fellow Australians about, what ultimately, for many reasons is in your own best interest?

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    6. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Wright

      Yes, I happen to be Australian. Not sure how you can extrapolate that from being a non-employer and not in education...

      I'm disagreeing because it IS in my best interest - greater immigration increases per-head GDP (see other comments below from others) - that's per my head as well (i.e. in my own interest).

      Plus I'm human - it's better for the immigrants as well (hopefully self-evident, otherwise they wouldn't come).

      You still haven't answered my question...

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    7. John C Smith

      Auditor

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      It has been good for the Aboriginies over the last two centuries, with new sickneses, lower life expentancy, alcohol, petrol etc etc.

      Waht will the new arrivals bring us?

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    8. Michael Lardelli

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Higher immigration rates increase per capita GDP? Simply not true. Look at the similar case of Gross State Product (GSP). South Australia has one of lowest rates of population growth in Australia (not really low in an international sense at 0.8%) and, even though it has a relatively low GSP comparted to other states it has one of the highest per capita GSPs! And since we do not have to pay the very high infrastructure expansion costs that the faster growing states are paying our quality of life and services etc. in SA is consequently better than almost anywhere else in Australia. So here in SA we are fighting hard to move away from the misguided notion of population growth being "necessary" at all. Growth and Development/Progress are not the same thing.

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    9. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      I am just on the opposite side of the debate.

      I feel that the GDP figures are not due to immigration and may well have been increases in SPITE of immigration.

      I also don't feel obligated to accept immigrants purely on their own interests. I do not feel we need to participate in the world's problems: we have enough of our own thank you very much.

      I think there are many downsides to rampant immigration: please note that I am ok with small amounts; that is, on the proviso of popular consent and proper planning.

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    10. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Chris Owens

      Absolutely correct Chris Owens.
      It also structures up our cities to become more import intensive...
      Almost nothing is exported from our cities and try this:
      Walk into a cafe and ask everyone "How many people do you know who'll export more goods and services over their lifetime than import?" and "WRITE THEM DOWN"
      My experience has been that casually accepting adherents to the Population Bloat Myth - change their minds on being challenged to do this.
      Nothing illustrates the policy disaster of blind, mass immigration than the above challenge.
      And FYI - the answer from the crowd last time I tried this was: no-one. A whole room of strangers could not produce a single individual who wasn't contributing to the deficit.
      Thanks to those - many on these pages - who place almost any interest other than the national interest - above all else - when thinking, writing, talking and lobbying on population policy.

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    11. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Not sure cafes are the right way to do economic research.

      A huge amount is exported from cities. Just hard to drop on your foot.

      Mostly called services. I do it myself - consult to overseas organisations = Australian exports.

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    12. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Ok, thanks Andy, well instead of pontificating upon your laurels, you might do well in sharing the benefit of your wisdom with the rest of us.

      You might like to start by quoting your tertiary qualifications in (whichever relevant field), and any research you've personally done in the area. Next you may wish to point to specific references I can look up to prove your points: I'd love you to quote the economic data which gives proof to a case that the benefits of immigration over the last 40 yrs is greater than the problems incurred. I'm not above saying I'm wrong on this, I just want to know why you so ardently believe what you do.

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    13. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Was that your grand reply was it?
      Your reference was rubbish.
      I'm done talking to you. You simply make no good argument to back up your points other than assertion, you present no qualifications, no research of your own; you are simply a bleating charlatan.

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    14. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to David Wright

      How is it that your personal opinions and antipathy towards foreigners, immigrants etc. make your subjective assertions true?

      Being a "philosopher" qualifies one to judge all and everything?

      This is the arrogance of the anti popn/anti immn brigade resorting to dodgy data, subjective opinions and demonising or attacking personally those who do not hold your views?

      The nativists expect majority to follow their extreme minority views and beliefs without question, what would they demand if they had any political power?

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    15. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      Ten reasons to challenge the 'immigration- overpopulation connection' http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt/59

      However, most at the Australian end of the anti immn/anti popn 'nativist' movement would prefer deferring to Dr. Bob Birrell's immigration "research" at Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research (as in first article comment).

      Birrell has been described as "Australia's best demographer" by Bob Carr (!?), patron of Sustainable Population Australia, I wonder why?

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    16. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Wright

      There were roughly 1/2 million references there. You asked for references, possibly in the belief there were none - there's actually a huge body of work on this. You've just decided to ignore it - and possibly keep your belief which doesn't accord with the research.

      Your option, I guess, but it is based (demonstrably) on ignorance. Bliss for you, perhaps.

      "Bleating charlatan" huh? Very Shakespearian. Is that because you don't agree with me? Oh, I guess you can ask for evidence but feel no need to supply yours.

      And actually, as regards qualifications, they are not necessarily relevant - I haven't claim any in this field, I'm deferring to the experts. You've queried my motivations as well as my qualifications, but have now refused to supply your own (three times).

      You are demonstrably playing the man, not the ball. Nasty piece of work. Safe for all to ignore you.

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    17. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      I'm not relying on dodgy data, I'm asking for data, and I get crappy references from 1994 on one Google search because someone can't be bothered to back themselves up!

      Please disclose your interest in this debate:

      You run an institution to import students to Australia, don't you?

      So it makes sense to say "You would say that, wouldn't you" - you have a vested interest in increasing immigration, a financial interest, do you not? Do you think you can be objective in the debate?

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    18. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Wright

      No, my interest in this topic is just simple human interest. No pecuniary/financial/whatever interest, except I'm sure I've met the occasional immigrant, and my great-great-great-whatever came over with the Second Fleet.

      Yes, the research goes back to 1994 and earlier, I'm sure - just because it doesn't agree with your opinion, does that make it wrong?

      Why should you be asking me for data - I've pointed you to heaps - and yet refuse to give us your affiliations and underlying research? Last chance (I think this will be the 5th), or I put on the "wanker" auto-reply.

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  4. robert roeder
    robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    Thank you Diane for your balanced view. At this point in time with the election looming major parties are not offering anything like a comprehensive plan which deals effectively with the situation. Regarding boat arrivals, the Greens policy seems to be to welcome anybody that shows up on our shores. Labor has dithered around, the Malaysian solution could have worked if it had been given a run. The Liberals have just followed Howard's purely political opportunism and offered short catchy phrases…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to robert roeder

      robert, I think you're over-simplifying the Greens' position on refugees - it's worth looking it up online - it focuses strongly on building cooperative regional arrangements to handle almost-unavoidable influxes of refugees, driven far more by 'push' than 'pull' factors. I'm not claiming it's perfect (nobody has a 'perfect' policy for what is, to some degree, an insoluble problem) but the Greens' policy is far more complex and nuanced than the 'let everyone in' description that dominates in the mainstream media.

      And I'd be very cautious about unilaterally withdrawing from thing slike UN conventions. we tend to get very 'what's in it for me' until we ourselves need to rely on the protection of international conventions.

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    2. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, While I am sympathetic to the Green's point of view and consistently praise the work of Scott Ludlam I wonder if Sarah is the best person to debate this issue, she is passionate. The Greens have the benefit of not being in nor likely to be in government this allows leeway in formulating policy which in a budgeting sense is hard to justify on some issues. Sure withdrawal from the convention would be a big bold step, too big and too bold for the big two. By 2020/2025 outbreaks of nationalism will have become common, old convention will be weakened as countries and politician scramble to remain relevant. It is interesting to note that 80% of the current refugees have found shelter in the poorer nations, as the effects of global warming heat up this situation is likely to change. If we won't do it now and save ourselves some grief we and others will in the future under the banner of self preservation.

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  5. Michael Lardelli

    logged in via Facebook

    Mass migration is being used to distort the labour market in order to maintain the appearance of economic growth (i.e. gross GDP growth rather than per-capita GDP growth). If the labour market was allowed to operate without this interference we would see childcare workers, cleaners etc. paid what they deserve (i.e. rates of pay would rise until sufficient people thought those jobs worthwhile). Yes, it would mean that some expenses would be much greater but the true worth of those jobs would also be recognised. However, mass immigration is being used to suppress wages in these lower qualified areas (and some are not so lowly qualified) so that the wealthier in society can enjoy an artificially affluent lifestyle. And the migration also takes qualified people from nations that have spent a lot of money to train them and can ill afford to lose them. The sooner this globalisation madness ends the better (and declining oil production will end it within a decade).

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Lardelli

      Actually per capita GDP has skyrocketed since the mid 1990s, making Australia one of the top handful of richest countries on earth.

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    2. Michael Lardelli

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      But the mass immigration began in the early 2000s. Check out our current population growth vs. GDP growth figures. If it was not for the rapid population growth the GDP growth would look very paltry!

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Lardelli

      I repeat PER CAPITA GDP in 2013 has exploded since the mid 1990s.

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    4. Michael Lardelli

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      You are indeed repeating yourself David. Current GDP growth is 2.5% annualised but population growth rate is 1.7% meaning that per capita GDP is something like 0.8% annual. In other words, our "highest in the developed world" population growth rate is giving an artificial picture of the current health of the economy. It would be interesting to look at the per capita GDP growth rates over time to see how they looked in the late 1990s versus late 2000s.

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    5. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Michael Lardelli

      And Michael Lardelli, recall that per capita GDP increases include the purchase of extra petrol you need to buy to endure the traffic jams our corrupt population bloaters have inflicted on us. And when you keel over waiting for an ambulance, the wasted spend on extra Ambulances, salaries spent on ambos queuing up in jammed up A&E departments - all that spend is part of GDP figures. Population Bloat Spruikers never like comparing any supposed return on the billions wasted on loading us up with yet more importing consumers, versus spending those same funds on R&D, on Australian owned manufacturing ventures or, and less believably, on improving the spend per capita on education.
      These Population Bloat Spruikers are just doing the work of corrupting retailers, internation and multi national import intensive corporations.

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    6. Michael Lardelli

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Yes, a lot of negative activity gets included into GDP and is then presented as a positive!

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    7. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Michael Lardelli

      Like most in the anti population anti immigration brigade there is no distinction made between permanent immigration vs temporary residents, included in population, but described as "immigrants".

      Makes for more alarming headline figure but if Australia followed the OECD definition of population excluding temps , our population would plummet and per capita GDP would increase.

      But as title of this article suggests anti pop/immn crowd like to attract headlines through distorting data and statistics, and presenting a veneer of academic or scientific research.

      If they were more transparent they would be more public about their links to Sustainable Population Australia, Stop Population Growth etc. and their links to John Tanton in the USA (who also has had an interest in eugenics)

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    8. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      Why do so many "sustainable population" type, like John Tanton, have an interest in biology and genetics?

      Then how do they become experts on demography, population and immigration research?

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    9. Michael Lardelli

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      Gee Andrew, maybe biologists, including geneticists like myself, actually understand something about biological populations such as humans and the resources required to support them? And you complain about a failure to distinguish between termporary residents versus permanent migration but the truth is that the two are now becoming hopelessly blended - the 457 visa programme is now seen as the pathway for eventual permanent migration into Australia. Then again, since your job is probably so bound up with facilitating international student flow and since international education has become deeply enmeshed with permanent migration (as a way of selling an education in Australia) I imagine you are deeply biased towards encouraging large scale migration.

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    10. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Michael Lardelli

      You can say what you about me, but takes away from sustainable population etc. arguments about supposedly high population growth and immigration.

      Clear evidence and arguments are not important, but inflating data for more impact in media suggesting "runaway" population growth and immigration.

      Can you direct readers to exactly where is this hard evidence (vs shouting perosnal opinions) that Sustainable Population Australia with whom you have links, and other related groups have?

      Of course…

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    11. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      It seems like you are living some kind of eugenics dream experiment Andrew? Where "average colour being light cocoa colour" is used in the same sentence as "ensuring we thrive". Good luck with that. Haven't heard of that sort of thing since the 1930s. (And in the 1930's, plenty of supporters for this sort of super race planning dream could be found in Academia).

      And when you have "future generations...identifying with Asia, Africa..." etc - will they be identifying with the political systems and…

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    12. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Nothing to export? Frank, we have a trade surplus...

      From what I've seen, most immigrants are pretty savvy about the countries they come from (more than the average non-immigrant). So they know what was wrong with the place they left. And their kids end up more Aussie than me.

      And that is a very good thing.

      I'll let Andrew defend himself, but I think he's just pointing out a fact about the average skin colour rather than advocating eugenics.

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    13. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Frank Moore

      No I was being ironic, it's the anti population growth and anti immigration movement who have connections with eugenics, and attitude toward non whites, as investigations have shown.

      Sustainable Population Australia etc. plus commenters here have links through to John Tanton, The Social Contract, Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform etc.

      John Tanton has accepted funding from the Pioneer Fund, Nazi type eugenicists, see link to "Greening of Hate"

      http://www.splcenter.org/greenwash-nativists-environmentalism-and-the-hypocrisy-of-hate/the-greening-of-hate-an-essay

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    14. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      This " Here in Australia we shall have future generations of Australians identifying closely with Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, average colour being light cocoa colour and human gene pool diversity ensuring we thrive." Doesn't look or sound ironic to me. Sounds like Your Big Vision. Don't worry, you're in good company. I'm sure you can yak all day to people who agree with you - and others, that just let you ramble on for their own advantage...

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    15. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Not a vision, has been and it's happening already, although appears to contrary to what some Australians' vision of Australia.....

      Australia's great diversity is not represented (well) in media, politics and anti immigration/population growth groups who seem to be mostly white, and ageing.....

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    16. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      Frank, what's wrong with skin colour? There's plenty of interesting things we can learn from Asia, Africa etc. Sure, plenty of bad things there as well, doesn't mean we have to copy those (that's what the "learning" bit is partly about).

      Got a problem with skin colour?

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  6. Bronwyn OBrien

    Admin Assistant

    Recently, in my town, a mob called The Regionally Sponsored Migration Scheme held a meeting for employers who are can't find skilled Australian workers to fill vacancies in their businesses. According to these guys employers can recruit the skilled workers they need from outside Australia or from temporary visa holders as long as they can prove they have tried and been unsuccessful in filling vacancies with Australian workers.

    First of all I would like to know what kinds of jobs exist in Australia, particularly in small regional towns, that Australian citizens cannot possibly do or be trained to do

    Secondly with education becoming more and more unattainable due to funding cuts, and young people being forced to stay in school longer rather than being able to leave and go to apprenticeships and trainee-ships at a young age, I wonder if it is getting easier for employers to 'prove that they cannot find suitable people to fill certain positions'.

    I smell a rat.

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    1. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Bronwyn OBrien

      You are gifted with good senses Bronwyn. The miners tactic is to advertise for workers in the mining towns or other places within a fair radius of them, in the full knowledge that locals will already be employed. - Then later, head off to Canberra with a fistful of unfulfilled jobs ads.

      "We tried, but no takers" - so we would appreciate your rubber stamping of these 457 visas. A bunch of folk who have long been knocking on our doors for work.

      So there's Zero compulsion for them to place…

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  7. John C Smith

    Auditor

    "I abhor Gina Rinehart’s; Gina is from a resource background and that is what you should expect from her like from a Shiek from the Middle East where locals are paid hundreds of times more than guest workers. it is the same in industrialised Japan and in South Korea etc.
    Time for us to give up our old baggage and face the challenges in a way the solutions favour us and fits our hybrid economy.
    Whitlam's Fabianism destroyed our skill education and training system in favour of academisation of the whole lot.
    It is time we look at education and skilling, first from local and then any from overseas.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to John C Smith

      Actually Whitlam had little to no impact on Australian higher education. The big change - and for the worse - was Dawkins.

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  8. Gary Murphy

    Independent Thinker

    How much do these 457 visas cost? If you really want to make sure they are only used when absolutely necessary make them cost $10,000+.

    Immigration rates are currently too high. There is a chronic housing shortage in this country (check the rental vacancy rates). People are coming in faster than we are building houses (and associated infrastructure) for them.

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  9. Garry Baker

    researcher

    Way too many punters - that's a big problem for Australia at the moment. Nowhere to put them, with concomitant housing prices through the roof, public transport now reduced to 3rd world status, and generally a rats in a barrel lifestyle for far too many. By world standards per capita we sit at, or very near the top rung, when it comes migration intake, yet commercial interests pushing the population barrow insist we can cope with 50 million people. Well the harsh reality is the people factor…

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    1. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Garry Barker - its only a democracy here for one day every four years. The sleezy and traitorous commercial interests spend money for access to support our multi millionaire socialists we foolishly place in power on that one day - in four years!
      Our wishes are not relevant.
      Up to 70% of Australians on any given survey - a survey conducted in an environment cluster bombed - swamped - in a continuous flood of mass media propaganda in support of the Population Bloat.
      Recall That NO ONE is allowed…

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  10. Martin Male

    Somatic Psychotherapist

    Can I suggest that we all keep our conversation about the topic and not about point scoring and personal attack. The level of personal attack is something that seems to be acceptable in mainstream media and discussion, personally I find this type of communicating the result of having a position to defend.

    It is for this reason I would suggest that the vast majority of us come here for informed discussion and discussion not vitriol . Again I find these attacks on someone beliefs and their supposed political persuasion just turns me off reading the entry.

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