For the past 10+ years Australia, the Anglo and western worlds have been obsessing in the mainstream about ‘immigration’ and ‘population growth’ as negative factors for the environment, economy, quality of life, infrastructure, traffic congestion, ‘carrying capacity’ etc. based upon misrepresentation and/or misunderstanding of data, analysis and facts.
However, in Australia as opposed to most nations, pension reform, introduction of superannuation, skilled permanent immigration and net financial contributions from temporary resident ‘churn over’ should maintain a balance between social responsibilities of the government and financial management.
In much of this public discourse, political lobbying and news based PR many facts and much data are distorted and/or ignored. This includes conflation of permanent and temporary immigration, the ‘NOM net overseas migration’ (border movements) equated with directly with ‘(permanent) immigration’, definition change of the NOM (used only by UK, Australia and NZ) by the UN in 2006 inflating/spiking headline numbers, individuals whether international students, backpackers and other temporaries, along with Australians, caught up in the NOM are described as ‘immigrants’ (even when the majority have neither access to permanent residency nor an interest).
Further, false correlations are made with international data suggesting infinite population growth when peak fertility has long passed (ex sub Saharan Africa), comparisons made between different data sets, population is expected to peak (sooner rather then later according to some e.g. Deutsche Bank) and dismissing the impact of ageing work forces now retiring, increasing pension and related service responsibilities, with less tax payers in the permanent population; back grounded by a significant baby boomer ‘die off’ approaching.
This has been back grounded or reinforced by Nativist policies, creating fear, antipathy towards non-Europeans and encouraging isolationism e.g. strong borders, closed economies with tariff walls, low or no growth, and aspirations for ‘sustainable population’ (whatever that means).
The University of Melbourne’s Peter McDonald analyses further in an article for The Conversation:
December 13, 2018 4.20pm AEDT
Australia’s population is among the fastest growing in the OECD with an increase of 1.7 per cent in 2016-17.
In Sydney and Melbourne traffic congestion has become so intolerable many believe a cut to migration would provide time for infrastructure such as roads and trains to catch up.
Net Overseas Migration was 262,000 in 2016-17, one of the highest levels on record.
They are all compelling reasons to cut the size of the migration program, right?
No, not right. Not at all.
Our migration program is no bigger than it was
Including the humanitarian movement, the government migration program has been set at a near-constant level of a little over 200,000 since 2011-12.
In 2017-18, although the level set in the budget remained above 200,000, the actual intake was 179,000, including an unusually large intake of refugees mainly from Syria and Iraq.
The combined Skilled and Family Streams fell short of the levels set in the budget by 28,000. The reasons for this shortfall are unclear.
‘Net overseas migration’ is different to migration
Net Overseas Migration includes the government program but also other movements in to and out of Australia which both add to and subtract from it.
The net effect of all of these movements can change the recorded “net overseas migration” in ways that are inconsistent with what’s been happening to the migration program.
If, for instance, the Australian economy picked up and fewer Australians decided to leave for better prospects overseas, recorded “net overseas migration” would increase even if the migration program hadn’t.
The two have been moving increasingly independently since mid 2006 when the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed its definition of “resident”, making temporary residents more likely to be counted in the population and their movements counted in net overseas migration.
Over the past five years, the number of international students arriving has increased every year but there have been few international student departures.
Inevitably, the departures of students will increase in future years and recorded net overseas migration will fall sharply again.
So, forget the near-record official net overseas migration figure of 262,000 – the underlying level of net overseas migration is more likely to be around 200,000. The underlying level of population growth is about 1.4%, and falling.
We’ll need strong migration for at least a decade
A new study by Shah and Dixon finds there will be 4.1 million new job openings in Australia over the eight years between 2017 and 2024.
Over two million of these new openings will be due to “replacement demand”, effectively replacing the retirements from the labour force of baby boomers.
There will not be enough younger workers arriving to fill the gap….
It means that without migration Australia would face a labour supply crunch unlike anything it has ever faced before.
Slowing or redirecting it won’t slow congestion…
…Net overseas migration of 200,000 per annum would give us 6.8 million more people of traditional working age by 2051 than would no net migration, but only 400,000 more people aged 65 years and over.
It would place Australia in a better position to support its aged population than any other country in the OECD.’