High migration: A Treasury-endorsed Ponzi scheme

April 18, 2018

Australian Conservatives’ leader Cory Bernardi has long been calling for a halving of Australia’s migration intake and the latest Treasury report on immigration is concerning.

An opinion piece by Judith Sloan in The Australian newspaper is calling our migration program out for what it is:

"I thought I got it. No change to the formal number of the annual permanent immigrant intake but a lot going on behind the scenes to ensure that the 190,000 figure won’t be met. Tell the department to do more checks, go slow, bring New Zealand residents living in Australia into the program and voila, the number could be as low as 170,000.

That sounds better. No formal announcement, just a lower number that might calm stressed residents of Melbourne and Sydney, in particular.

But then we have another drop by another senior politician. This time it’s the promotional immigration report we would expect from the Department of Immigration (now Home Affairs) and Treasury — yes, both those departments would say that.

Mind you, the net annual economic gain is very small: 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product — smaller than a rounding error. The report also contains the fallacy that immigration has a favourable effect on the age profile of the population even though the immigrants themselves age.

Only if the immigration numbers are ramped up — year in, year out — will there be any effect on ageing, that’s why it’s the equivalent of a Ponzi scheme, which is now being endorsed by Treasury.

No consideration is given in the report to the cost of congestion, the loss of urban amenity, overcrowded schools and hospitals, environmental pressures and the like associated with immigration.

But here’s the way the boosters weasel their way out of this dilemma: fix up infrastructure and Bob will be everyone’s uncle. How long have we been hearing that one? And, by the way, it’s been getting worse, not better.

The reality is the government has lost the confidence of great swaths of the population when it comes to immigration — and the government knows it. It is all over the shop. One minute there is a triumphal announcement that the permanent immigrant cap won’t be met, so we can all feel slightly relieved. The next we are told immigration is one of the biggest economic gains around.

Of course, what Treasury won’t admit is that the distribution of those gains are snaffled mainly by the immigrants themselves, and the businesses that can secure larger domestic markets — think property developers, in particular — and save on paying for training. It’s a great deal for them. Whether it’s a great deal for everyone else is an open question."

To read Judith Sloan's full article, click here.

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