Who are you going to blame?

This is what Tony Abbott reckons is currently wrong with Australia:

My issue is not immigration; it’s the rate of immigration at a time of stagnant wages, clogged infrastructure, soaring housing prices and, in Melbourne at least, ethnic gangs that are testing the resolve of police.

Okay.  I think sensible individuals can agree that this particular list of complaints is a fair summary of what (some) people are talking about.

It seems to me, however, that everything on that list is due to government. Government is to blame for stagnant wages. Government is to blame for clogged infrastructure. Government is to blame for soaring housing prices. Government it blame for ethnic gangs testing the resolve of police.

The solutions to those problems include:

  • cutting spending, cutting taxation, cutting red tape, and cutting green tape.
  • better coordination, prioritising, and tighter budgeting for infrastructure spending.
  • releasing more land for housing, cutting red tape, and cutting green tape.
  • tougher sentencing for violent criminal behaviour, and truth in sentencing.

To be fair to Tony Abbott, a lot of that involves both the commonwealth and state governments getting off their bums and actually doing stuff.  But quite frankly, until he starts talking about actual solutions to real problems, all this anti-immigration talk is just a waste of everybody’s time.

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70 Responses to Who are you going to blame?

  1. Roger

    But quite frankly, until he starts talking about actual solutions to real problems, all this anti-immigration talk is just a waste of everybody’s time.

    Not if if gets the topic on the public agenda for discussion, as this post does 🙂

    Current high immigration rates put a lot of pressure on public infrastructure and services, which necessitates increased government spending, which must negate some or all of any economic benefit the immigrants brought in the first instance and also compounds our budgetary problem. That would be an interesting calculation for an economist to look at.

  2. If Abbott is not meaning that government is causing the problems, who is he pointing the finger at?

  3. teddy bear

    Yea lets just keep up the immigration program and try to play catch up while we continue to get further behind in all those areas and pretend that government will suddenly pull their finger out and fix things, lets not slow things down to make it easier for our incompetent governments to catch up and sort the mess out, lets just scream anti-immigration and keep on going backwards.

    Well most of us are going backwards, some however are finding the current conditions either very profitable or have little to no impact on their day to day lives. Makes it very easy to simply scream anti-immigration that way.

  4. zyconoclast

    I read Abbott wants the numbers reduced to 110k/year.
    If that is a start for year one and halved to 55k then 27.5k… in subsequent years then he has my attention.

    We know TA will not deliver so, I’m not interested.
    Next.

  5. Tim Neilson

    If you arrive home and your house is flooded the first thing you do is turn the water off at the mains.

    It makes no sense to keep importing sociopathic illiterate dysfunctional “youths” on the assumption that once each successive wave have committed a few home invasions and got a severe sentence they’ll reform and make way for the next intake to maintain the violent crime rate.

  6. H B Bear

    More immigration isn’t going to give Australia better governments. And there is a reasonable argument it will give us worse.

  7. Habib

    Immigration is fine, as long as savage racism and affluence are the deciding factors. Also no 457 visas while feral douches receive welfare, they will pick fruit, or starve in a skip. Enough pandering to grown adults.

  8. IRFM

    In Texas, a keen oil and gas explorer can buy leases from the landholder, lodge the drill program, drill and make discovery, fit out well(s) and produce Texas Tea all within 12 months or one year. How is this possible – direct dealing with the landholder who owns the mineral rights (no government involved) and mature black letter law government regulation on well and oilfield management. All levels of government then collect a healthy tax flow. In Australia, it is not possible under a decade these days. The exploration/development permit system across all jurisdictions has ground to a halt. There is your red and green tape in abundance in Australia causing delays lasting decades rather than facilitating well and consistent regulated development that would otherwise see development times drop dramatically. Australia;s first oilfield was up and running in 18 months in 1961. Same oil same state – now needs 10 years.

  9. Caviar

    Wrong. Immigration is the problem and it was created by government and it can be easily fixed by government. Put a 10 year moratorium on all immigration and let us see in 10 years how many (if any) people we really need to bring into this country

  10. Bob of Brisbane.

    In the 1920s Coudenhove-Kalergi devised a plan to destabilise Europe by bringing in overseas migrants so that the sovereignties of individual countries would be destroyed. This was Marxist plan for a single European government a la the USSR and eventually a One World Government. It’s happening now and Europe is being destabilised. Paul Keating in 1992 agreed to the UN’s Agenda 21, a plan for a One World Government run by unelected UN bureaucrats and Malcolm Turnbull agreed to the latest version in 2015, Agenda 2030, again without reference to the people. Everything is working nicely in Australia; we are being flooded with migrants, many of whom will not assimilate, and are on the path to a Socialist State. Nothing happens by chance.

  11. Norman Church

    Why is it an either/or proposition? Surely one can advance multiple policy objectives at the same time.

  12. mh

    Treasurer Scott Morrison thinks the opposite way to Abbott. Morrison believes that immigration rates that are triple Australia’s historical levels are the economic solution. He said so on radio this morning.

  13. candy

    Well, it would seem that the more people you have in a country causes competition for jobs and wages go down.
    Robotisation adds to the problem.

  14. Habib

    The only reffos we should be accepting for permanent residence are Jaaapie farmers, who are being routinely murdered by savages. There’s no going back for them, short of a nuclear war or wholesale epidemic. Accept severely vetted ones from shitholes, on the basis that they are on TPVs, have to work, and will be repatriated by force if necessary when it’s safe to do so.

    Too many pussies have a say on this and other pertinent issues.

  15. mh

    Each year the population appears to get sicker, as well. Cold and flu season goes right into the summer months.

    Then there is the urban heat effect, but state governments are now considering paying us to keep the air-conditioner off in summer.

  16. Howard Hill

    Not if if gets the topic on the public agenda for discussion, as this post does

    How so?
    Intellectuals have been discussing this shit for over 40 years and the place is a bigger shit hole now then then.

    When do we start winning?

  17. Immigration is fine, as long as savage racism and affluence are the deciding factors. Also no 457 visas while feral douches receive welfare, they will pick fruit, or starve in a skip. Enough pandering to grown adults.

    You do realise what the (now abolished) 457 visa was?
    This lack of understanding is disappointing.

  18. Roger

    Intellectuals have been discussing this shit for over 40 years and the place is a bigger shit hole now then then.

    I did write ‘public agenda’, not the intellectuals’ agenda. Since we have politicians who are by temperament and occupation so insulated from normal life that they routinely mistake sectional interests for the national interest, at the end of the day only electoral pressure will force change.

  19. Habib

    457 visas were meant to be a means to fill a skill shortage on a temporary basis. They’ve been mis-used since inception- I’ve no bother with kanakas coming in to do shitty jobs, except when there’s a myriad of idle bogans, charlie, hadjis and assorted other detritus collecting welfare.

  20. I’ve no bother with kanakas coming in to do shitty jobs, except when there’s a myriad of idle bogans, charlie, hadjis and assorted other detritus collecting welfare.

    You’ll have 100% agreement from all in Australia on this.
    Excepting idle bogans, hadjis, and the assorted detritus collecting welfare.

    457 visas were meant to be a means to fill a skill shortage on a temporary basis.

    And they do. There’s going to be quite some adjustment now they’ve been cancelled.
    Got a quick opinion on how some of those skills gaps may be able to be filled in the short term?

  21. Tekweni

    Habib, there are plenty of other South Africans as well who would significantly contribute to Australia if they could meet the point requirements. South Africans are unaccustomed to social welfare in any form. You work or you starve. When they arrive here the last place they look for is the Centrelink office. They look for work, try and earn enough to get their kids into good schools and buy a house as soon as they can. Most of us think we have won the lottery of our life when get into Australia. And you won’t find us joining unions and for that matter, I don’t know any who vote Labor.

  22. Robber Baron

    Abbott’s been getting out among the great unwashed and listening to people that are not highly paid political advisors for about 2 years now. He is getting the facts first hand from the voting public. He understands that there are votes in cutting immigration. Lots of votes. Lots and lots of votes in marginal electorates. More than enough votes to win an election.

    I suspect at some point soon after Newspoll number 30, there will be a challenge to Turnbull. Abbott is getting his pitch ready.

  23. Tekwini: My experience of South Africans is they are as guilty as you can get of the following:
    Working hard without complaint.
    Going to Church.
    Abhorring blasphemy in the workplace (can take quite some adjusting for some to remove the “JC” from their lexicon when you’ve just deleted a day’s work by accident or something)
    Raising a family in dignity, and with standards.
    Telling you like it is. (i.e. no “yes” men)
    Having limited people skills (you gotta keep them away from customers).

    I’ve employed one South African. They made a false statement to police resulting in their supervisor being jailed, for something the Saffa had actually done.
    In one of those cute twists, she was promptly deported as it turned out her entry paperwork was faked or something.

  24. Robber Baron #2642484, posted on February 21, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Took him long enough (Abbott).
    Cutting immigration (for any reason) to say 10% of current levels would deliver him a landslide of seats.
    Partly because the electorate will believe he can do it.

  25. DM OF WA

    Immigration is a cultural issue not an economic issue. The economic case is merely a rationalization made by polite people to avoid an uncomfortable conversation.

    The truth is that the common people in the nations of the civilized Western world have decided they no longer accept the fantasies of diversity, multiculturalism, globalism and Western guilt promoted by the elites. They have had enough and they want an end to mass immigration from the Third world.

  26. egg_

    Well, it would seem that the more people you have in a country causes competition for jobs and wages go down.
    Robotisation adds to the problem.

    Wymminses give up their jerbs for reffos and robots – instant wage rise.
    Reffos and robots don’t need red and green tape.

  27. Roger

    Immigration is a cultural issue not an economic issue.

    No…it’s both.

    Otherwise we’d be happy for 300 000 Anglos to come in each year from UK, NZ, Canada, US & SA. Yes, they’d be more readily assimilated culturally, but the associated costs in infrastructure and services provision would still raise questions about the net economic benefit of such high numbers.

  28. Australian federal election, 7 September 2013

    He had plenty of time.

  29. Habib

    Got a quick opinion on how some of those skills gaps may be able to be filled in the short term?
    Start charging full whack for useless degrees, and make trades more attractive by slashing tax and regulation. Fill any shortfalls by targetted migration, with recognition of valid overseas qualifications and tell the unions to fuck off. Pretty bloody easy really, if you’re not a sitzpinkler.

  30. Habib

    Got a few Zimbabwean mates, they all work, run businesses, and a couple volunteered for the ADF as chocks as soon as they were qualified. Terrible accent, they drink like fish and don’t especially like kaffirs. Otherwise sound chaps and chapettes, unlike the hordes of levantine layabouts that’ve been brought in wholesale.

  31. Combine Dave

    It seems to me, however, that everything on that list is due to government. Government is to blame for stagnant wages. Government is to blame for clogged infrastructure.

    The government is also at fault for bringing in lots of unskilled labor with the intention of placing them on welfare…

    Until the welfare state is abolished this reckless immigration must end!

  32. Combine Dave

    Otherwise we’d be happy for 300 000 Anglos to come in each year from UK, NZ, Canada, US & SA. Yes, they’d be more readily assimilated culturally, but the associated costs in infrastructure and services provision would still raise questions about the net economic benefit of such high numbers.

    Not the mention the massive Pro-Leftist vote increase this would represent…

    So yes cultural impact due to mass incoming cucks.

  33. Harken back to the 90’s and examine what Pauline was saying at the time. To parphrase:
    a) “Do you want to preserve our Australian culture? If you do, that will not be accomplished through unfettered immigration of people who are culturally different.
    b) “Do you want Australians to belong to one nation? If you do, multiculturalism flies in the face of this objective. Multicult encourages a tribal culture in which people identify as something other than Australian.”
    c) “Do you want to satisfy the demand that Australian employers have for productive employees? You will not achieve that objective by encouraging the immigration of people who speak a different language, lack the skills that emplyers need now, and who don’t understand the way Australians think”.
    For this Abbott and Costello put her in teh crowbar hotel.
    Who was right? Who was wrong.

  34. Combine Dave

    Excepting idle bogans, hadjis, and the assorted detritus collecting welfare.

    This is quite a powerful voting bloc…

  35. Boambee John

    Habib at 1237

    Accept severely vetted ones from shitholes, on the basis that they are on TPVs, have to work, and will be repatriated by force if necessary when it’s safe to do so.

    A good example of the left’s two-faced approach on these matters occurred when a number of Kosovars were brought to Australia during the troubles there in the 1990s.

    Labor voted with the Coalition on special temporary visas for them, specifically providing for repatriation when the troubles ended. Almost as soon as they had arrived, the “usual suspects” started lobbying for permanent residence for them.

    Labor immediately supported the lobbying, totally abrogating the agreement they had with the government about temporary residence only. Fortunately Howard stayed firm.

  36. Chris

    I understand Hong Kong welcomes immigrants, but oh, by the way, there is no welfare available for immigrants.

    I don’t think they have the same problems we seem to be having with immigrants.

  37. manalive

    OK I get it (as Paul Murray might say), his government stopped the boats got rid of the carbon (dioxide) and cut annual immigration by 30,000 but he coulda shoulda done more.
    However someone in the Coalition has to say what Abbott said.

  38. jupes

    The solutions to those problems include:

    cutting spending, cutting taxation, cutting red tape, and cutting green tape.
    better coordination, prioritising, and tighter budgeting for infrastructure spending.
    releasing more land for housing, cutting red tape, and cutting green tape.
    tougher sentencing for violent criminal behaviour, and truth in sentencing.

    The solutions also include:

    An end to Muslim immigration.
    An end to black African immigration.
    Prioritising immigration from western countries and cultures.

    The sooner we get back to something resembling a homogeneous culture the better.

  39. Philby

    Wrong. Immigration is the problem and it was created by government and it can be easily fixed by government. Put a 10 year moratorium on all immigration and let us see in 10 years how many (if any) people we really need to bring into this country


    Sounds about right to me so all we need is some conservative centre right politician’s to be elected instead of the left wing SJWankers that inhabit our parliament. Immigration especially the refugee program is destroying Australia. No immigration unless skilled English speaking tax paying .
    No welfare or citizenship unless a person has been a nett taxpayer for 10 years. Only Australian born and raised should be eligible for parliament.
    That’s a start.

  40. Habib

    CD, also easily fixed with a net tax franchise.

  41. Old Irrelevant me

    We reap what we sow they say, We reap what we sow. Who amongst us knew we’d cheapen ourselves so by joining the landed in viewing the lucrative overseas market.
    Divided we may be and kept that way lest for every few years where by we unitedly select either head of the tossed coin, and oh we now so do charge the tossed coin with our sins.
    It is we us and co who have our back to each other.
    We now number more than the Landed bearer of ore or grain or stock, and yet we still will not unite and steer the way. It is as if we want to be the worlds tip. To take all those that they don’t want.
    Some control would be fortuitous would it not?

  42. Combine Dave

    OK I get it (as Paul Murray might say), his government stopped the boats got rid of the carbon (dioxide) and cut annual immigration by 30,000 but he coulda shoulda done more.
    However someone in the Coalition has to say what Abbott said.

    This is why the left and big immigration libertarians actually dislike him….

    Not for what he shoulda done but for what he did.

  43. It makes no sense to say that the current immigration intake plays no significant role in clogged infrastructure, soaring housing prices, etc. And no one doubts that green and red tape, etc. also play a significant role in the above nor that we should cut them as well.

  44. anonandon

    Stopping immigration will reveal the economic Ponzi scheme in operation. It must be maintained at all costs, even if nobody wants it.

  45. Squirrel

    Compare Australia today to Australia 20 to 25 years ago, before the current phase of greatly accelerated permanent and temporary immigration began – more liveable? more affordable? more internationally cost-competitive for exporting businesses? more fiscally sustainable? more environmentally sustainable? healthier lifestyles? more supportive of family formation?

  46. Combine Dave

    more liveable? more affordable? more internationally cost-competitive for exporting businesses? more fiscally sustainable? more environmentally sustainable? healthier lifestyles? more supportive of family formation?

    No on all counts.

    We could have been the world’s greatest gated community, instead we are turning into just another shithole.

  47. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    I look forward to Judith Sloans’s’s repsonse to Sinclair’s thought piece…

    Wait no more:

    The main chancers who regularly declare Melbourne the most live­able city in the world must have a sense of humour. They most certainly don’t live in Melbourne.

    Take it from me, Melbourne is a complete nightmare to get around. If you drive, it takes an age. If you take public transport, be prepared for the sardine-tin experience.

    House prices are out of this world. The shopping might be good, but it’s impossible to park at many shopping centres. Hospitals and schools are overcrowded.

    There are parts of the CBD where it’s easy to feel as if you are in another country — there’s not a lot of English being spoken.

    If this is the most liveable city in the world, I’d like to see what’s unliveable.

    I’m not Robinson Crusoe when I express these views. And let’s face it, Sydney is not much better.

    The fact is Tony Abbott is really on to something when he calls for a significant reduction in the number of immigrants coming to this country. What I can’t understand is why a Coalition government hasn’t been on to this issue much sooner. Running a sensible and sustainable immigration program is as important as border control.

    The government seems to be so self-satisfied with its achievement in stopping the boats that it has dropped the ball when it comes to establishing appropriate numbers and rules around both permanent and temporary migration.

    Let’s be clear, the Migration Program numbers — the permanent intake — of 190,000 a year is way too high. And unless the government does something, these numbers will be the same for the next three years.

    It just doesn’t make any sense for net overseas migration to make up most of the (excessive) population growth we are experiencing. Just look at the figures. Last year, it is estimated Australia’s resident population grew by 1.6 per cent.

    The world’s population grew by 1.1 per cent. In Canada, the figure was 0.9 per cent, in France 0.4 per cent, in Britain 0.6 per cent and in the US 0.7 per cent.

    At our current rate of growth, Australia’s population will be more than 38 million by 2050.

    For a while, I had concluded that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton didn’t understand what he was dealing with. He would bang on about net overseas migration (which includes most temporary migration) being higher under Labor than under the Coalition government. Sure, NOM — immigration minus emigration — peaked in December 2008, not long after Labor was elected.

    Yet the latest figures on NOM for the year ending June 2017 were 245,000 — an increase of 27 per cent from the previous 12 months. Yes, a 27 per cent increase. Pete, net overseas migration is out of control. And note that NOM increased by 31 per cent to NSW — read Sydney — and 23 per cent to Victoria — read Melbourne.

    Here is a golden opportunity for the government to differentiate itself from Labor, which is determined to maintain immigration numbers, if not increase them.

    Former academic Andrew Leigh MP has been sent out to quote some arcane studies about the effect of immigration on house prices and wages.

    Here’s the thing: you don’t need a degree to realise that if you allow the population to grow rapidly, there will be pressure on house prices and urban infrastructure. And for workers whose skills complete with new migrants, there is less scope for pay rises. Without doubt, immigration is contributing to our low wage growth.

    The government needs to get serious about cutting back the immigration intake, even though the universities are likely to kick up a stink. Note that overseas student education is a joint offering: a degree plus a pathway to permanent residence.

    What the government has to appreciate is that the largest group of voters are incumbents, not new migrants or even migrants who have arrived in the past decade.

    Even on this point, it’s not clear that migrant groups are in favour of large migrant intakes — the pull-up- the-ladder phenomenon.

    We need to give our cities a break; we need to insist that new migrants culturally integrate and speak English well; we need to ­acknowledge the legitimate interests and views of incumbents rather than always favour new entrants.

    It would be wise for the government to heed Abbott’s advice.

  48. To be fair to Tony Abbott, a lot of that involves both the commonwealth and state governments getting off their bums and actually doing stuff. But quite frankly, until he starts talking about actual solutions to real problems, all this anti-immigration talk is just a waste of everybody’s time.

    Why is it that you are so willing to invoke the law of supple and demand on every aspect of economics except that of immigration? It is so typical of the libertarian mindset that swallowed the leftie lie that people around the world are all the same.

    If you import masses of low skilled labor that will work for peanuts just to survive then wages will fall or at best stagnate.

    These same masses of cheap labor will compete with young people who are just entering the workforce and attempting to acquire workforce skills in low positions so they can get a foot on the ladder. 30 years ago when we were teenagers a bunch of us worked in service stations as a first job. I challenge you to find an Australian teenager working in a Melbourne service station today.

    Business loves cheap labor and will favor immigrants over locals. Business loves illegal labor even more as it is cheaper again. Foreigners exploiting 457 loopholes are illegal labor and they more or less work for free whilst being supported by family networks back in their home nations.

    Governments have a duty to represent their constituents. In the last 20 years we have seen that duty abandoned in favor of importing new constituents. Politicians and certain sectors of the business community benefit from this. But people are now waking up. Australia has been invaded and the first casualties have been young people and unskilled labor.

    The reason we are in this mess is exactly because of commonwealth and state governments doing stuff. And your solution is for them to do more of the same?

    You are truly delusional.

  49. Entropy

    From Abbott’s speech, this is the source, the key source to our problems today.

    All too often, it seems, the people charged with sorting out our difficulties don’t have to suffer them; or, at least, not to the same extent as the general public. It’s easy to be relaxed about green-scheme-driven price hikes when you’re on a big salary. It’s easy to dismiss street crime when you live in an up-market suburb and don’t have to use public transport or drive long distances for work.
    Hence the insiders versus outsiders chasm now bedevilling the politics of the west: a talking class that’s never had it so good; a working class that’s trying harder and harder just to keep up; and a welfare class with a strong sense of entitlement.

    As for Sinc’s listing of problems re immigration, talk about skirting around the issue by focusing on the symptoms! As Adam said,

    Why is it that you are so willing to invoke the law of supple [sic] and demand on every aspect of economics except that of immigration? It is so typical of the libertarian mindset that swallowed the leftie lie that people around the world are all the same.
    If you import masses of low skilled labor that will work for peanuts just to survive then wages will fall or at best stagnate.These same masses of cheap labor will compete with young people who are just entering the workforce and attempting to acquire workforce skills in low positions so they can get a foot on the ladder.

    To which Judith has added

    you don’t need a degree to realise that if you allow the population to grow rapidly, there will be pressure on house prices and urban infrastructure. And for workers whose skills complete with new migrants, there is less scope for pay rises. Without doubt, immigration is contributing to our low wage growth.

  50. Boambee John

    jupes at 1452

    An end to Muslim immigration.
    An end to black African immigration.

    Having observed the problems the US has with a significant black population (and the career opportunities these problems provide for politicians and the “caring”professions) our resident SJWankers seem determined to produce a similar situation here. They, of course, will ensure that the joys of multiculturalism are kept well away from their leafy suburbs.

  51. Y

    Sinc, serious question: what should the immigration rate be, and where should they come from?

    Are you willing to accept there might need to be some restriction on both of those metrics? If so, why?

  52. Jimf

    Sinc – all of the (worthy) measures you mentioned are correct in theory . But as we all know none of them will happen with our spineless political and media class any time soon – as in next 20 years.In the meantime, whatever his motives (I believe genuine) we’ll take Tony’s tactical and opportunitistic views to reduce job,infrastructure and wage pressure as a start. Morrison and Dutton really have swallowed the LINO playbook. They are clearly positioning themselves as media-acceptable next LOO material.Morrison’s been a soft cock ineffectual dud for years now , but Dutton is a disappointment. It’s almost as if Mal convinced them that TA must be marginalised at every turn. They’re cunning enough to realise he will be competition when Mal gets turfed in the next 12-18 months. Maybe , but neither of them (Morrison tarnished , Dutton too niche) are electable. Christian Porter might just “Bradbury” the lot of them !

  53. Howard Hill

    I did write ‘public agenda’, not the intellectuals’ agenda./blockquote>

    Conceded, but the public don’t discuss these issues, they’re too busy watching A Current Advertisement to get the latest Coles specials.

    No…it’s both.

    Otherwise we’d be happy for 300 000 Anglos to come in each year from UK, NZ, Canada, US & SA. Yes, they’d be more readily assimilated culturally, but the associated costs in infrastructure and services provision would still raise questions about the net economic benefit of such high numbers.

    But these people are nation builders. The cost would be well taken care of by their input into our society, just as it did when we first brought them in.

    But the parasites that infest this country don’t want this. Instead they bring in useless garbage to divide us ( That’s why they carry on about diversity so much. It’s code for divide the plebs. ) and keep us beholden to their every whim!

    Anyway. What’s wrong with Australia was told to us by, Plato I think. Democracy only works till the people work out they can vote themselves a free lunch, which is reflected in our governing parasites. Time to kill all free lunches!

  54. Mak Siccar

    In today’s Oz. Most comments not very favourable to Mr Sheridan’s opinion.

    Abbott’s anti-immigration push dead, buried and cremated
    The Australian12:00AM February 22, 2018

    GREG SHERIDAN
    Foreign EditorMelbourne

    As Malcolm Turnbull meets Donald Trump, former prime minister Tony Abbott’s misguided attack on the immigration program, strongly rejected by conservatives Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison, suggest the populist right in Australia is learning all the wrong lessons from the US President.

    It is becoming an increasingly negative force, which measures its puny tactical accomplishments only in what it can stop, never in what it can achieve.

    It would be impossible for a journalist to have a higher opinion of Abbott than I do. I regard him as a major figure in Australian political history and have written at length of his government’s achievements, but his attack on the immigration program, which contradicts much of what he did in government, is 100 per cent wrong.

    It is wrong in its particulars, and it represents a decline in the quality of Abbott’s political contribution. It looks like populist pandering.

    The political leader in Australian history who most comprehensively cut immigration was Gough Whitlam. The other mainstream political force that has typically argued for big immigration cuts is the Greens, and for many of the same reasons as Abbott cites.

    That the populist right now finds itself on a unity ticket with Whitlam and the Greens indicates the ultimate sterility and false promise of populist solutions. Abbott has called for a more or less immediate halving of the immigration level — something he never suggested or entertained as prime minister — and blamed immigration for wages stagnation, housing shortages, infrastructure bottlenecks, welfare dependency and other ills.

    He cites the high level of welfare dependency of refugees five years after their arrival and conflates this into a general anti-immigration position. However, refugees are very different from skilled immigrants. So long as we choose refugees who will make a personal and political commitment to Australia, we are rich enough to bear the cost.

    If Abbott thinks we should cut refugee numbers, fair enough. Argue then for that, not for a general cut in immigration.

    As prime minister, Abbott increased our refugee intake. You cannot credibly be Captain Compassion in government when you’re looking for majority support and transform into Harry Hardheart out of government when you are looking for a populist corner of resentment.

    Both Dutton and Morrison, who were key ministers under Abbott and once his closest allies, rightly rejected the almost cartoonishly simplistic economic arguments Abbott used to oppose immigration generally.

    More supply in the labour market means a lower price for labour, he declared. This really is the territory of the Greens and the trade union movement of a century ago. In that case, we should never have any immigration and we’d all be rich.

    In fact, immigration makes the economy bigger and makes, over time, everyone more affluent, provided it’s a well-run program.

    Dutton, the cabinet’s leading conservative, yesterday pointed out that with two-thirds of our intake being skilled immigrants, the economic benefits to Australia are very substantial. As the Productivity Commission has pointed out, skilled migration increases productivity.

    Abbott is also just plain wrong to say Australia’s program today — 183,000 migrants last year — is a historically high number.

    Australia welcomed a net migration of 153,000 people in 1950 when our total population was eight million. Our population is now three times bigger, our immigrant intake merely 30,000 more. In other words, it is a much smaller immigration intake as a percentage of our population today than it was then. And we were much poorer then.

    The great immigration of the 1950s and 60s occurred under conservative Australian governments led mostly by Robert Menzies. That was a time when conservatives were nation-builders, not forces of negation and protest.

    Abbott is right to say infrastructure, especially roads and houses, has not kept pace in Sydney and Melbourne. This is a bipartisan political failure. State governments Liberal and Labor have been equally ineffective in providing needed infrastructure, as have federal governments of both persuasions.

    The wretched populism involved in turning against immigration may yield some resentment-corner political dividends. It will also yield very bad policy for the national interest.

  55. Crossie

    Immigration is the problem and it was created by government and it can be easily fixed by government. Put a 10 year moratorium on all immigration and let us see in 10 years how many (if any) people we really need to bring into this country

    Obvious as the nose on your face but obvious has been expunged from our national conversation. Only yes men are permitted to speak by our elites, any dissenting opinions are ridiculed and sneered at. Eventually the maligned will revolt.

  56. Crossie

    The wretched populism involved in turning against immigration may yield some resentment-corner political dividends. It will also yield very bad policy for the national interest.

    See, it’s the wretched populism that is our problem. Completely tone deaf.

  57. John Constantine

    The wretched populism will be solved once a brand new polity is mass imported that is totally reliant on their Big State.

  58. manalive

    @ Mak Siccar,
    Greg Sheridan must’ve read Abbott’s speech.
    Apropos the immigration of the early ‘50s, it was a result of the post-war refugee crisis in Europe and the then ALP immigration minister Arthur Calwell’s ‘populate or perish’ slogan which was designed to mute trade union opposition and implied possible invasion from Asia.

  59. manalive

    … immigration makes the economy bigger and makes, over time, everyone more affluent … (Get Sheridan).

    … high immigration has been a factor in Australia’s record-breaking run of aggregate economic growth because each new worker adds to our economy – but behind the reassuring overall figures, growth-per-person tells a different story. At just 0.9% over the past decade, annual economic growth per person has been anaemic, compared to 2.4% during the Howard years, when immigration was much lower … (Tony Abbott).

    Abbott makes the point that relying on immigration is a lazy way of boosting economic growth and as anonandon (above) says is ultimately a Ponzi-type solution.

  60. Caviar

    Populism is another term for democracy. I support direct democracy. Let the Australian people decide whether they want hordes of foreigners coming or not.

  61. mh

    You can take it to the bank — the American election is effectively all over, Hillary Clinton has won.

    – Greg Sheridan, the Australian November 08, 2016

  62. Combine Dave

    Dutton, the cabinet’s leading conservative, yesterday pointed out that with two-thirds of our intake being skilled immigrants, the economic benefits to Australia are very substantial. As the Productivity Commission has pointed out, skilled migration increases productivity.

    Then as a start why not cut that 1/3?

  63. rickw

    In my lifetime the population of Australia has gone from 5 million to 24 million and reached a situation where 40% of people are either immigrants or children of immigrants.

    If these figures related to some tribe from the Amazon, few would hesitate to describe this as calculated cultural genocide.

  64. Infidel Tiger

    You’re in rude health Rick. Last time Australia had a population of 5m was around 1900.

  65. Makka

    Yes Sinc. Best to stop or stifle discussion about the biggest fucking problem being shoved down Australia’s throat.
    Can’t have Abbott taking the shine off the beloved Turdball.

  66. classical_hero

    This is a serious question for Sinc, what has MT done for us? What separates him from TA?

  67. Diogenes

    Populism is another term for democracy. I support direct democracy. Let the Australian people decide whether they want hordes of foreigners coming or not.

    caviar,
    California in general & SFO in particular are almost what you desire (1 referendum data a year with up to 10-20 questions asked at a time) . Would you want to live there ?

  68. cynical1

    To be fair to Tony Abbott, a lot of that involves both the commonwealth and state governments getting off their bums and actually doing stuff. But quite frankly, until he starts talking about actual solutions to real problems, all this anti-immigration talk is just a waste of everybody’s time.

    Right. So you can’t point out a problem unless you have an answer.

    We’re all ears…

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