David Leyonhjelm guest post, immigration is about quality, not quantity

Australia’s population is a controversial subject. We hear a lot about the need to reduce the migrant intake.

Immigration has never been popular at the best of times, but it is even less popular now with our biggest cities suffering terrible congestion and travel times. But so much gets lost when we focus solely on the quantity of immigration.

It’s impossible to have a meaningful conversation about immigration without considering quality. Highly skilled professionals and business people have a substantially positive effect when they migrate to Australia. Family reunion migrants, by contrast, are far less likely to contribute.

We also disregard the patchwork nature of the Australian economy, in which some parts of Australia are crying out for population growth. Plus, we lose any chance of moving beyond immigration to considering our approach to population overall, including the issue of how many children we are having.

We need a response on each issue.

Congestion is a consequence of a lack of infrastructure, not simply a reflection of the size of our big cities. There are plenty of bigger cities around the world where congestion is not an issue. What’s required is not just new train and bus services, motorways, bridges and tunnels, but practical considerations such as parking at train stations and bus stops. And there is much that could be done to promote greater use of motorbikes and scooters.

Congestion is aggravated by the number of people who commute long distances. To address this, we need to get rid of stamp duty on housing, which applies every time housing is bought and sold. Not only does this lock out thousands of Australians from home ownership, it also discourages existing home owners from moving to be close to a new job.

The quality of migrants would rise if we denied new migrants access to welfare until they become citizens. This would discourage those whose employment prospects are poor or only temporary, while those who still seek to come would be signalling that migrating to Australia is still a good deal for them.

The quality of migrants would also rise if we charged a substantial fee for a permanent visa. This would ensure new migrants made a catch-up payment for the assets paid for by previous generations of taxpayers, like roads, but would discourages migrants with poor employment prospects from joining the migration queue.

Both measures would result in reduced family reunion migration compared to skilled migration.

Continued character, criminal and health checks are important to ensure migrant quality, and there should obviously be rigorous and relevant security screening before a resident can become a citizen. We also want people who will embrace our values, not seek to impose their values on us. Thus anyone applying for residency or citizenship who supports female genital mutilation, forced marriages, child marriages or the subordination of women, for example, should not be accepted.

Dealing with the patchwork nature of the Australian economy, where some parts of Australia want to close the doors while others are crying out for population growth, is a tricky one. Much of the growth in Sydney and Melbourne is a result of the dynamics of agglomeration, where people are attracted to where other people already are.

This could be partially offset by reducing the size of the bureaucracies that oversee the provision of government services from the centre of our busiest cities, and by relocating to regional areas as many as possible.

There is also nothing wrong with placing conditions on permanent residency visas that require the holder to live in a regional area, at risk of losing the visa. While it’s true that enforcement may be difficult, it’s not insurmountable.

We should also recognise that, if there is a genuine problem with population growth itself, then there’s a case for paring back the welfare payments that encourage Australians to have children.

The Parenting Payment, for example, provides thousands of dollars more than the dole each year with no requirement to look for paid work provided you have a child under six. There’s also Family Tax Benefit, which can be $10,000 per child each year, with higher amounts once a child turns thirteen.

Our living standards depend on more than just the population; the population is about more than just immigration; and immigration is more than just a number. Policies based on raising the quality of our mix of migrants would have direct benefits for us all.

David Leyonhjelm is a former Senator running for the Liberal Democrats in the NSW State election

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47 Responses to David Leyonhjelm guest post, immigration is about quality, not quantity

  1. Percy Popinjay

    Yeah, no – it’s about flooding functioning societies with Z-grade peasants.

  2. Percy Popinjay

    You vile, irrelevant fraud.

  3. Nob

    Relocating centres of state employment simply floods these areas with rusted-on statist greenies who will campaign against any productive enterprise.

  4. Nob

    I’m OK with Immigration in itself, but quality is important.

    It’s necessary for prosperous countries.

    Good economic conditions for entrepreneurs attract the best and brightest.

    Immigration doesn’t cause prosperity, as Japan & Korea show, but is an adjunct.
    Economic know-nothings always get that arse-about.

    People can always migrate faster than you can build infrastructure, but Australia can do more to keep up.
    Including being more selective about migrants, to be sure.

    The sclerotic progress rate and ridiculous costs of big infrastructure projects in an over-regulated and over-unionised environment is a national scandal in Australia that is seldom examined in the media – except when calling for more money to be thrown at them.

  5. stackja

    1940s migration worked. Last 50 years created problems.

  6. Tom

    The quality of migrants would rise if we denied new migrants access to welfare until they become citizens.

    That would kill objections to immigration stone dead overnight.

    It would return immigration’s original purpose when it began en masse in Australia after World War Two when it was embraced enthusiastically by Europe’s poor who were interested only in improving their circumstances while delivering a dividend to their new country.

    The current separatism regime, misnamed “multiculturalism”, is designed to import welfare parasites to sponge off taxpayers — and create a replacement electorate that benefits parties of the left who see themselves as the ruling class of the new welfare slaves. (The Washington DC establishment’s open borders stonewalling is the most evil current example.)

    It is guaranteed to create resentment and no amount of media propaganda and denialism by politicians will make the resentment go away.

  7. Nob

    Well said Tom.
    But it wasn’t just the poor of Europe who came.
    Successful people also saw Australia as a land of opportunity.

  8. Nob

    I’ve posted this before but I’ll repeat what a prospective immigrant said to me:

    The problem with Australia is that the racehorse can only run as fast as a donkey

  9. rickw

    I’ve recently changed to a job where I’m managing a number of pieces of infrastructure in Australia.

    What a mess this country is in thanks to the population ponzi.

    Government built a massive problem shoving vast numbers of people onto existing at capacity infrastructure.

    They are now setting about solving a problem they made with their usual flair for pissing taxpayers money up against the wall:

    Competing Federal and State projects that aim to solve the same problem.

    In a country where the location of a garden shed is “planned” by our political masters, they in fact have no coherent master plan for pretty much anything.

    In a country that has laws for every minute aspect of a persons life. There are in fact gaping holes in the laws associated with business infrastructure.

    There are now government departments and advocates that are tasked with cutting through the bureaucracy and red tape of other government departments.

    There is way more but my strong conclusion is that we are governed by incompetent idiots.

    Let’s not forget the social impact of their insane immigration policy either.

  10. Nob

    we are governed by incompetent idiots

    That’s a given and why less government is always better.

  11. tgs.

    Percy Popinjay
    #2959839, posted on March 15, 2019 at 11:11 pm
    You vile, irrelevant fraud.

    Had you read the article you might have found that DL doesn’t support unrestricted inflows of low quality immigrants.

    You dumb fucking clown.

  12. Antipostmodernism

    I am a middle aged, white, right-wing male marked for extinction and experiencing vilification throughout the media today and this is my lament about immigration. I’m finding Sydney increasingly alienating. I was the only white guy amongst perhaps 100 at Strathfield station platform five a few weeks ago. I want a meat pie but can only find sushi and noodles and what is tapas? The rambling federation houses of my childhood with amazing gardens and adventure for the young are being replaced with silos full of faceless immigrant clones, which are often perched on the edge of bushland and swamps. The joint is a giant construction site.

    Parallel societies. Low social capital. In much of Sydney there is no mainstream culture for immigrants to melt into except their own. There are umpteen Chinatowns and then I’m in India or Lebanon. Good luck to the AFL moralist fools who think they can build a following amongst these demographics. Asian women are terrible drivers. There are cultures that habitually cheat or sponge. I can’t fathom how the negatives of creating a divided society with completely different outlooks and languages and foreign loyalties is to be just hidden under the carpet. And of course the amenity is diminishing. Think of the economic growth they say. Yeah well I would happily surrender some of that.

  13. bespoke

    There is also nothing wrong with placing conditions on permanent residency visas that require the holder to live in a regional area, at risk of losing the visa. While it’s true that enforcement may be difficult, it’s not insurmountable.

    Not very libertarian. Forcing people into low into places with low employment prospects or worse still creating an opportunity lager bureaucracy.

    And there is much that could be done to promote greater use of motorbikes and scooters.

    Again creating an opportunity lager bureaucracy.

    Stick to welfare, Tax and education reform or drop the libertarian mantle.

  14. AussieMAGA

    Society is a society, not an economy. Libertards don’t understand this, because they are fundamentally corporatists – just with lipstick.

    Immigration has no benefit at all to a society, except in a ‘populate or perish’ scenario (which can be fake), and is the poorest way to improve an economy.

  15. egg_

    it’s about flooding functioning societies with Z-grade peasants.

    +1

    Gotta love the “first generation drivers” on Sydney’s roads nowadays – as if the roads weren’t bad enough without peasant drivers adding to the accident rate.
    /Insurance premiums

  16. max

    Immigration Control: Federal Social Engineering
    Gary North – December 22, 2014

    Anytime somebody says that there have to be some sort of social criteria beyond non-criminal judicial status, in order to gain residence in the United States, he is saying that politicians in Congress, and permanent tenured bureaucrats in the executive, are competent in understanding what America needs today, and what America will need in the future.
    Conservatives don’t believe this in many areas of life, but with respect to two things — imported goods and imported people — they believe that Congress knows better, and the tenured executive bureaucracy knows best. This is the default mode of thinking for most conservatives. They believe with all their hearts that Congress can be trusted, and tenured executive bureaucrats protected by Civil-Service laws are in effect a kind of priesthood. “These people know what America needs.”
    Why should anyone believe this?

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/13246.cfm

  17. Iampeter

    A lot of bad here. Even the better Libertarians suffer from the issue affecting all of politics today, with no clear view of what a government should, or should not do and why.

    Our living standards depend on more than just the population; the population is about more than just immigration; and immigration is more than just a number.

    Humans are volitional individuals, so our living standards depend on only one thing: freedom to think and act as individuals. So the only question you need to ask in politics is, do you support peoples individual rights to do so, or not?
    Most people today do not. Most people believe individual rights need to be seconded to some greater purpose. This is where ALL our problems come from. From infrastructure, congestion, bad immigrants, etc. All our problems arise from the various anti-individual ideas in the mainstream today, which in turn leads to rights violating government policy, which in turn leads to all our issues.

  18. Old Surfie

    Well said Antipostmodernism – you are a man after my own heart. Nice to see that I’m not alone. My old Brisbane suburb of the ’50’s and ’60’s where I grew up now resembles downtown Singapore or Suva particularly with Indian, Polynesian and Chinese people the most noticeable – it was once the home of returned WW2 servicemen and their families. As you correctly say, it would appear that we white folk are marked for extinction. Look at the current adverts on TV – all feature Asian and African actors, sometimes mixed families, all happily integrating with the white folk. It’s not what I see in reality in the park at my local beach. There they all regularly gather in very own distinct racial groups – no mixing whatsoever with others. That’s a fact. So much for the myth of multiculturalism. I recently saw a publication from the Anglican Church – the cover photo had 19 children on it, 9 of which were European. I bet this is not representative of their congregations on Sunday mornings. More likely to be 70+ year old Australians of British descent. Look at any tv story that is shot in the CBD of any large city. At least 1 in 5 walking past in camera view is of Indian or Chinese descent.
    A friend of mine recently related a story about his Scottish daughter-in-law. Her brother in Scotland (a qualified tradesman) was offered a permanent job in WA. On applying for migration, he was informed that the quota for British migrants had been met. If that’s so, how do the many hundreds of unskilled Indian taxi drivers, kitchen hands and trolley pushers that I see around get around the migration rules. Probably fly in and never bother to go home – who’d be checking on them? There does appear to be a Government preference for non European migration these days. I know I’m an old dinosaur, but I much preferred Australia the way it was – not as it is now, a nation of tribes.

  19. Deplorable

    The sclerotic progress rate and ridiculous costs of big infrastructure projects in an over-regulated and over-unionised environment is a national scandal in Australia that is seldom examined in the media – except when calling for more money to be thrown at them.

    Spot on , lazy public servants being paid more than people who actually work in the private sector, union sweetheart deals with government preferred firms distorting labor markets , absolutely outrageous red tape forcing up costs of infrastructure.
    We have a roundabout being constructed near us but for about the last 2_3 months this small site has had two sieving machines with around 6-8 people standing around watching ,I suppose in case of any artifacts being in the soil of farmland that has probably been ploughed over a hundred times in the last 200 years. Who drives this dribble.

  20. egg_

    Gotta love the “first generation drivers” on Sydney’s roads nowadays – as if the roads weren’t bad enough without peasant drivers adding to the accident rate.

    Met a retired L.A. Sheriff, who said that Chicanos had two speeds – flat out and double-parked.

  21. Deplorable

    Antipostmodernism
    #2960111, posted on March 16, 2019 at 9:08 am
    I am a middle aged, white, right-wing male marked for extinction and experiencing vilification throughout the media today and this is my lament about immigration. I’m finding Sydney increasingly alienating. I was the only white guy amongst perhaps 100 at Strathfield station platform five a few weeks ago. I want a meat pie but can only find sushi and noodles and what is tapas? The rambling federation houses of my childhood with amazing gardens and adventure for the young are being replaced with silos full of faceless immigrant clones, which are often perched on the edge of bushland and swamps. The joint is a giant construction site.

    Parallel societies. Low social capital. In much of Sydney there is no mainstream culture for immigrants to melt into except their own. There are umpteen Chinatowns and then I’m in India or Lebanon. Good luck to the AFL moralist fools who think they can build a following amongst these demographics. Asian women are terrible drivers. There are cultures that habitually cheat or sponge. I can’t fathom how the negatives of creating a divided society with completely different outlooks and languages and foreign loyalties is to be just hidden under the carpet. And of course the amenity is diminishing. Think of the economic growth they say. Yeah well I would happily surrender some of that.

    From another older Australian just add Melbourne and I agree 1000%. What a pack of traitorous greedy bastards we have allowed to destroy this once beautiful country.

  22. egg_

    Parallel societies. Low social capital. In much of Sydney there is no mainstream culture for immigrants to melt into except their own. There are umpteen Chinatowns and then I’m in India or Lebanon. Good luck to the AFL moralist fools who think they can build a following amongst these demographics. Asian women are terrible drivers.

    Methinks there’s also an OHS cost associated with ESL.

  23. Makka

    Dl’s idea might well work, BUT only after a period of drastically reduced immigration while our public spaces and infrastructure catch up to the demands of the crush loaded present. I’d say that would take 10 years easy. And the new immigration paradigm should not include a single moslem.

  24. JC

    We should also recognise that, if there is a genuine problem with population growth itself, then there’s a case for paring back the welfare payments that encourage Australians to have children.

    David, that won’t work unless the labor market and wages are more flexible. Regional areas are unable to cope with inflexible wages that make no attempt to distinguish living costs in Sydney vs Tasmania for instance.

  25. JC

    BUT only after a period of drastically reduced immigration while our public spaces and infrastructure catch up to the demands of the crush loaded present.

    Lol. We’re hugely overpopulated, David. Trades Hall (Makka) makes an excellent point from a parallel universe.

    As the 6th largest nation in the world, Australia has a very low population density of just 3 people per square kilometer, or 7 per square mile. This makes it one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Mongolia, Western Sahara and Suriname have fewer people per square kilometer than Australia

  26. egg_

    As the 6th largest nation in the world, Australia has a very low population density of just 3 people per square kilometer

    For very good reason – no fvcking water!

  27. Antipostmodernism

    People claiming to be Aboriginals have native title over about a third of Australia, so far.

  28. Gilas

    Harkz smoted yesterday.. iampeter back today.
    hmmm…..

  29. Tel

    For very good reason – no fvcking water!

    Plenty of rain lands on Australia (look it up).

    Most of that goes straight into the ocean.

  30. JC

    For very good reason – no fvcking water!

    Egg, even if 10% of the country is liveable, 10% is the size of the UK, France, Italy and Germany. The problem isn’t land or water scarcity, it’s lack of grey matter otherwise the country wouldn’t have some of the highest legislated wage rates in the world. They should be able to adjust by market forces differentiating between regions.

  31. egg_

    Most of that goes straight into the ocean.

    Precisely.

  32. Squirrel

    This issue is even making its way into the Channel 9/Fairfax media (albeit with a swipe at Murdoch) –

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/politicians-are-more-concerned-about-their-donors-than-australians-20190314-p514dd.html

    – which is probably a further sign of just how bad it’s getting.

    In essence, we are importing consumers and we are largely paying for that consumption by public and private debt and by the sale of finite mineral resources (“stranded assets” according to some of the same twits who believe in Big Australia/open borders).

    It’s just so easy for our mediocre, overpaid governing elite, but ponzi schemes always end one way, and it ain’t pretty.

  33. Tel

    I’m not against a Charter City allocated some land out in the Pilbara somewhere, where someone can sponsor the building of infrastructure, get some industry going, invite workers from wherever and be fully responsible for what goes on there. If it turns out to be productive then, find another patch of land and build another one. If it doesn’t work out, then the investors lose their money and the workers agree to go back where they came from.

    That should be very low risk. They can build their own dams, power stations, roads, buildings.

  34. Makka

    Lol. We’re hugely overpopulated, David. Trades Hall (Makka) makes an excellent point from a parallel universe.

    And you’ve seen what of the country numpty, Toorak Rd? You ignorant fkwit.

    60% of the population are crush loaded into just 3 cities moron, a fraction of the land mass. And you are too dumb to work out why. Go for a drive and lob say 200km sth of Alice and you might just work it out. But I doubt it, you’re far too thick.

  35. Makka

    They should be able to adjust by market forces differentiating between regions.

    Libertarian bullshit as usual. Let’s dream the impossible and call it the high ground. Meanwhile reality here on this planet has Govt determining immigration rates that suppress wages growth. You’re as dumb as dogshit.

  36. JC

    And you’ve seen what of the country numpty, Toorak Rd? You ignorant fkwit.

    I try to avoid it like the plague – far too congested.

    The problem the country has in terms of the population not spreading out is your trades hall labor market policy, you dinosaur. People don’t move to the regional centers because there are no jobs there… And why is that? Why is Tasmania and South Australia basket cases? Have you ever asked that, you trades hall ignorant swine.

    The unemployment rate in small regional cities in the US is negative in some places. That’s because the minimum wage is set below the market clearing rate and people move due to cost of living calculations. But a trades hall virus like you thinks it’s great that we have a state dictated high wage rate across the country that simply cannot be justified. Oh, but it’s those immigrants taking our jobs. They’re killing us in the big cities. It’s actually true our cities are congested because people congregate there due to our structural weaknesses.
    You dishonest moron, the reason you want to cut immigration is because of some harebrained Trades Hall view that this would cause your family’s wage rates to increase. It wouldn’t as it’s been explained to you countless times.

    Current unemplyment rate in

    Phoenix Arizona 3.5%

    Omaha Nebraska 3.1%

    Bismarck North Dakota 2.1%

  37. JC

    Libertarian bullshit as usual.

    Trades hall alert!

  38. Nob

    The regional centres already have an oversupply of state-dependent residents, living an easy life without ambition.

    Local councils get easily taken over by greenie mentality to the point where industry is automatically opposed.

  39. Nob

    North Dakota is prosperous due to the oil industry.

    But of course heavy handed governments everywhere know how to screw up such good fortune with stupid interventions.

    Things have stabilized and grown since the slump of 2014 as everyone got their costs down.
    https://www.npr.org/2018/11/23/669198912/after-struggles-north-dakota-grows-into-its-ongoing-oil-boom?t=1552775358995

    It’s funny to read ignorant journalists writing a few years ago that “dream had evaporated” – resources towns get used to this.

  40. LBLoveday

    “The quality of migrants would also rise if we charged a substantial fee for a permanent visa”.

    I don’t know what DL considers “a substantial fee”, but I am Australian by birth, have never had other citizenship, paid Australian income (and other) taxes from the age 15 to 65, married in Australia, under Australian law, 4 years ago and have been quoted $7,160 application fee for my wife to obtain a permanent visa, with no refund if unsuccessful. I call that substantial.

  41. LBLoveday

    Egg wrote (and others on a similar vein): “Gotta love the “first generation drivers” on Sydney’s roads nowadays – as if the roads weren’t bad enough without peasant drivers adding to the accident rate”.
    .
    During Ramadan Muslims fast for a month during daylight hours, which, as Ramadan advances about 11 days a year, can be 14 hours on a hot Australian day, means no food, and, more importantly, no water.
    .
    To see the consequence of driving while dehydrated, look at the road statistics for Middle East countries during Ramadan. The same blip is not evident in Australia because of the relatively small Muslim population, but watch it increase.
    .
    The same debilitating effect is evident in many occupations, and not just cabbies – would you choose to be operated on by a doctor who has not eaten or drank anything for 12 hours? In a plane with such a pilot? Look at the appalling decisions made by Paki umpires in England during Ramadan.

  42. LBLoveday

    Egg wrote (and others on a similar vein): “Gotta love the “first generation drivers” on Sydney’s roads nowadays – as if the roads weren’t bad enough without peasant drivers adding to the accident rate”.

    During Ramadan Muslims fast for a month during daylight hours, which, as Ramadan advances about 11 days a year, can be 14 hours on a hot Australian day, means no food, and, more importantly, no water.

    To see the consequence of driving while dehydrated, look at the road statistics for Middle East countries during Ramadan. The same blip is not evident in Australia because of the relatively small Muslim population, but watch it increase.

    The same debilitating effect is evident in many occupations, and not just cabbies – would you choose to be operated on by a doctor who has not eaten or drank anything for 12 hours? In a plane with such a pilot? Look at the appalling decisions made by Paki umpires in England during Ramadan.

  43. LBLoveday

    Egg wrote (and others on a similar vein): “Gotta love the “first generation drivers” on Sydney’s roads nowadays – as if the roads weren’t bad enough without peasant drivers adding to the accident rate”.

    During Ramadan Muslims fast for a month during daylight hours, which, as Ramadan advances about 11 days a year, can be 14 hours on a hot Australian day, means no food, and, more importantly, no water.

    To see the consequence of driving while dehydrated, look at the road statistics for Middle East countries during Ramadan. The same blip is not evident in Australia because of the relatively small Muslim population, but watch it increase.

  44. Cynic of Ayr

    Just a thought.
    IF immigration is so beneficial to Australia, then it must be, therefor, disastrous for the country of origin!
    So, were we to limit immigration to nothing, we would be doing the originating countries a favor!
    By limiting our immigrants to skilled, as Sinc suggests, we deprive the origination country of those very same skilled people. A Moral dilemma , ya think?
    I’ve always thought that we are far better off for ourselves, and for the foreigners, if we helped them in their own country, instead of ours.
    Not only that, we help a trickle of selected – and sometimes not-so-selected few. A drop in the ocean so to speak.
    The oh-so-obvious problem with the idea of helping people in their own countries, is that those countries are often – often – under the control of despots, murderers and self interested mongrel bastards.
    And, we tolerate this! Not only do we tolerate it, we reward them with visits to the UN, speeches at the UN. Morons like Phillip Adams invite them to Australia to tell us how it’s done, and so on.
    We are indeed, pretty stupid in our own way. We harm two countries with the same action.

  45. NotHereLong

    Solid point you make about any conversation regarding QUALITY control. Think about your own home. It makes sense if you open your home to visitors, you wouldnt want them to rob you or your family, beat you or take the money that youve worked hard for as a forced charity. You would expect them to help out, clean up a bit anything the contributes to the upkeep or bills would be appreciated. Anyone that applies to stay at your home, you would have an application process, checking the suitabily of all the applicants. Its a complicated issue but it needs to be adressed as things seem out of control at the moment with family visa’s, refugees, charity and the many other reasons for entry that dont address quality and are a financial burden under the current setup. My thoughts on the issue on immigration are fluid, so its interesting to read everyones unique thoughts, including David’s as you all have very good points. I dont agree with every thing that David Lyonhelm says or does, but I belive he has better ideas than any other Politician in NSW and Australia.

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