As the credulity of the Australian population gets ever more stretched on the subject of migration the beneficiaries of Australia’s migration on steroids approach to economic policy are starting to get the idea that it is being substantively questioned.

Jess Irvine has outed herself recently as a business journalist who didn’t get GDP growth. She now returns as a business journalist who can’t see the economy past a daily hit of extra bums on seats, and who has outed herself with this piece as someone who isn’t so much a business journalist but an intellectually shy spruiker for whatever lobby requires one. And one with some major comprehension issues at that.

Headline could easily read

Population Junkie sees giant star goat ending life on planet unless immigration bong goes round some more

 

ANALYSIS

This is what would happen if Australia halted immigration

Jessica Irvine
http://www.smh.com.au/national/this-is-what-would-happen-if-australia-halted-immigration-20160930-grsizn.html

Crowds thin in international airport arrival halls. Visa processing offices fall silent. Refugees must seek a new safe haven.

Australia has closed its doors.

What next?

Nearly half of Australians say they want to ban Muslim immigration and the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, warns “it would be foolish for anyone to deny that there is concern about immigration in Australia”.

But what would actually happen if Australia halted its immigration intake?

Just imagine that, eh…..all those arrivals halls – all available for use as backdrops to the next terrorist film, maybe we could have a remake of ‘On the Beach’…….

The first thing one would note about the opening Stanza is that there is a mighty big difference between asking questions about Australia’s level of immigration intake – and over the last decade it has run at 4 times its 30 year average, it has been at higher per capita levels than it was in the gold rush era, and currently has Australia with one of the highest levels of foreign born residents in the OECD, with more than ¼ (about 28%) of all Australian born offshore – and suggesting it end entirely.

We find ourselves wondering if Jessica lives in a binary world where the choice is between there being 300 thousand per annum or nothing whatsoever, and then to ask if anyone, anywhere, has actually suggested that?

Of course Jessica doesn’t actually suggest anyone anywhere has actually suggested ‘closed its doors’ because absolutely nobody, nowhere, has. About the closest she comes to that is suggesting ‘nearly’ half the population would like to ban Islamic migration – and for those wondering Islamic immigration is so small that little actual data is available – it isn’t asked of migrants, and the Islamic population of Australia currently makes up a whopping 2.5%, with migrants from Lebanon and Iran more likely to be non-muslim, and the majority of Indian migrants more likely to be Hindu (a recent news article on it is here [sorry for referring to the Rupertarian]- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/muslim-migration-to-australia-the-big-slowdown/news-story/6be73d718d50476f940e30281d885b99?nk=e47a503fe98c5e75e9bfc386afcb034d-1475402336).

So the distance from nearly half of Australian wanting an end to Islamic immigration to a total ban on immigration of the type to silence arrivals halls is a stretch of Pinocchio’s nose achievable only with conspicuous use of psychotropics. Nearly half of Australia wanting to end 2% of its migration intake has become the basis for considering a total end to immigration– that is a 98% reality discrepancy Jessica has. Intellectually, Jessica is laying a big steaming turd on anyone reading her piece right there.

To help with the seasonal adjustment required she works in ScoMo’s acknowledgement that there are questions to be asked about migration, from last week, seemingly as additional ballast to the idea that cutting immigration back to zilch has some real prospect. Alas she doesn’t get anywhere near indicating awareness that ScoMo warned anyone caring to listen that Australia needed to keep immigration up (and it was reported in about every last skerrick of the media – is Jessica in the same dimension as us?). That steaming turd she laid earlier has become journalistic diarrhoea.

Such is the mindset of the ‘journalist’ serving you this bilge, and the editorial processes of an organisation which would claim to being Australia’s ‘quality’ press. It’s the sort of bullshit which could reasonably drive people to take a geek at the Rupertarian stable.

oecd-migrant-population

Is Jessica really positing that running immigration behind only Luxembourg or Switzerland (home of tax avoiding oligarchs and EU bureaucrats) is the only alternative to having no immigration at all?

Population growth would halve

Net overseas migration – arrivals to Australia minus Australians departing – accounted for more than half of the growth in the Australian population last year. Of the 326,100 people added to the population count, just 148,900 came from so-called “natural” increases – births minus deaths.

The remainder, or 177,100, came through more people migrating here than departing. This pace of migration has actually slowed in recent years after hitting a peak of 315,700 in 2008 – the year the global financial crisis washed up on our shores. A clamp down on foreign student visas and slackening business demand for skilled migrants explains the recent fall.

Well she has a point here. Cutting back on immigration will require us to cut back on net population growth, unless we all go out and breed prolifically. Those currently breeding only account for about half our population growth.

Now the lack cognitive awareness paraded before you in the first stanza as an inability to reconcile two binary potential alternatives to any actual phenomena in the contemporary world unless we extrapolate the desires of ‘nearly’ half of Australians to end the circa 2% Islamic immigration into a complete immigration ban, and a fairly overt parallel universalism in adding context to our current treasurer in regard to his openly stated thoughts on immigration, now becomes an a hyperspace button’s degree of separation from the experiences of ordinary Australians.

But before we get to those ordinary Australians let us pose the question to ourselves…… ‘why do we want population growth?’Do we want it to have more competition for a car park when we go to the cinema? Do we want it to have more bodies in our military? Do we want it to juice sales of baby foods, kitchen appliances or [yes let’s say it] real estate? Or do we want population growth because it signifies a society which is secure enough and prosperous enough to motivate people to want to have more children live in it? Is the population growth the people of Australia want a number on a population stats sheet or an experience people want children to experience?

Jessica implies that our population growth will more than halve the moment we end immigration, but she wonders not about why we want population growth and doesn’t dignify the reader with any substance about why population growth would be desirable – and her conceptual limitations as a commentator on contemporary Australian economic issues are [again] laid bare right there. It is as though population growth is like motherhood, it just is good, and there is no need to quantify it or extrapolate it in any way back to….anything.

It is a shame she didn’t at least take a peek down the motherhood angle because she may have come to some ideas about why people have children, and from there the factors dissuading people from having them – starting firstly with inhabitants of modern developed economies having fewer children when under economic stress, and secondly with higher female education levels generally corresponding to a lessened procreation level. And from there she may have come to the idea that an awful lot of Australians are so massively in debt, and having so tenuous an employment situation as to make the question of whether to have children or not one of do they reduce their own living standards by having children? Or will having children mean they are likely to hand over to those children a reduced quality of life in comparison to that which they have?

From there, as a business/economics journalist, she may have come to some thoughts should we be trying to cultivate an economy where people want to have children because of the quality of life and opportunities they can share with those children, rather than to juice the stats so as to bullshit those children already out there as to the quality of economic experience they are experiencing.

Alas, an opportunity missed.

 

Economic growth would falter

“One of the key drivers of growth in the Australian economy has been strong population growth,” explains HSBC Bank’s chief economist, Paul Bloxham.

Australia’s quarter century of uninterrupted growth is due in no small part to a swelling population. “That makes us quite different to a lot of other countries across the world who have got the challenge of population growth that’s slowing, or shrinking, like Japan.”

Slower economic growth is less of a problem if what is produced has to be shared among fewer people. But migrants add to demand in the economy, helping to prop up spending and incomes, says Bloxham. “The net effect is still positive.”

smh-pop-growth

The third innings sees Jessica using Bloxo as a human shield. He says that our economic growth will take a creaming if our population growth comes back into the realms of magnitude we have averaged over the last thirty years – maybe 70- 100k or so per year – and he may have quite a point there – and notes that population growth makes us different to Japan, inter alia, amongst those nations experiencing declining population. That is all OK if we take the world as a simple statement of trivial fact without asking about why or the implications of the fact.

But then Jessica, who we can only assume was having a bad day, utterly fucks up something as simple as using a quote from Bloxo – like how hard can that seriously be? She serves us this ripper – which goes to the very heart of why Australia needs to ask very serious questions about its immigration intake – ‘Slower economic growth is less of a problem if what is produced has to be shared among fewer people.’ Did Jessica at any point ask if the average reader out there may be thinking that Australia has a slowing economy, and may move on from that conceptual point to ask why we are running immigration at eye glazing multigenerational highs in the face of that? Did she wonder what the fuck Australia produces and if we require more people to produce that? Did she wonder (if only for a moment) whether that may have some sort of bearing on Australians thoughts about immigration? (and not just Islamic immigration?). More Bloxo tells us that running higher migration in the face of a weakening economy – like shooting a line if you don’t feel like going to work – will give us a positive effect.

Now we must, regrettably, attribute some failings to Jessica, no matter how much we’d like to shaft Bloxo with them. It is her piece, and we can only assume that she chose to use his comments. Again we find ourselves coming back to the idea that it may be better to address the malaise and put in the work to create a worthwhile economy than to juice the stats in order to tell the ambient readers that immigration is somehow making things OK (or even better than they may otherwise be). Would we expect a half decent, or even a moderately pathetic, business journalist to ask a hard question about our economic path, or would we expect a bottom of the barrel exhortation to pull another bong and face the bigger reality somewhere down the track? Could Jessica or Bloxo get that anything they write ultimately comes to this question?

An interesting sideline to bring in about here is that the NAB have come out with some charts within the last week as reported on by David Scutt at Business Insider here (This epic chart pack from the NAB reveals recent trends in Australia’s population) which quite obviously Jessica hasn’t clapped eyes on.  For those interested note

nab-australia-demographics-chart-pack-sept-2016-population-growth-compared-to-major-economies

Our current rate of population growth has us right up there with Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Turkey Malaysia, Mexico and Indonesia.  Do we want to adopt their living standards as our aspiration?  

nab-australia-demographics-chart-pack-sept-2016-population-growth

Why would we be looking at increasing population without increasing births? Is there an economic development narrative which explains this?

nab-australia-demographics-chart-pack-sept-2016-migration-and-interstate

And yes, if you live in Sydney and Melbourne it is highly likely that Australia’s immigrants are living right near you.  There is nothing wrong with that but it is worth asking if you, or they, or indeed anyone in those great cities of ours, are doing something which adds to national income or are simply spreading about that national income being added by someone somewhere else?

Our workforce would age quicker

The median age of all new arrivals to Australia last financial year was 26.5, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics. This includes temporary and permanent visa holders. The median age of the entire Australian population was 37 years.

More than two thirds of Australia’s annual migrant intake arrive on skilled working visas. While family reunion visas make up a large part of the remainder, they include children as well as grandparents.

On average, new migrants lower the age profile of the Australian population and are more likely to be of working age.

Jessica next limbers in with some age stats. All plausible enough. From there we come to 2/3 of migrants coming on skilled working visas – without for a second asking about the basis of the need for those ‘skilled’ working visas (not to mention 457’s) and asking whether the visa system has been rorted. Then we get an assertion about migrants lowering the age profile (without any numbers to back that up) and absolutely nothing suggests any relationship to the rate at which the workforce ages. Bringing in adult migrants actually just increases the ageing problem down the track and means that even more immigrants need to be brought in at some later point – even if the economy doesn’t need them or there isn’t an economic narrative explaining a need – it is all, literally, a population Ponzi scheme.

The federal budget would blow out

With no new migrants arriving, there would be fewer working aged people to pay the income taxes needed to support an ageing population.

There may be some cost savings for government in helping new arrivals, particularly refugees. But Australia’s annual humanitarian intake is only 13,750 a year – less than a tenth of total migration. Most migrants to Australia contribute to the workforce, given our skew towards skilled labour, and pay significant taxes.

Earth calling Jessica ………. the Federal budget has already blown completely out of the water.

Jessica may not realise it but when she says there would be fewer people to pay income taxes to support an ageing population she means the economic head Australia has stuck up its economic arse when it comes to pension reform, assets of Australia’s aged (let us insert houses here too shall we) and taxes (both paid, and unpaid due to SMSF’s economically bullshit concessions such as Negative Gearing and Capital Gains – and that is before we get to the taxation of corporate Australia and its subsidiaries in Panama or marketing arms in Singapore) which needs to be addressed with economic reform .

Jessica loads in some assertions about how much taxes migrants pay (do they pay more or less than ordinary PAYE Australians – now there is a question Jessica!), and the cost of the refugee program – but the only number she gives is the number of the humanitarian intake.

She certainly doesn’t go anywhere near adjusting the entitlements the aged are entitled to as a means of reining in that budget blowout! ……

ao-chart1-160514

A little bit of perspective on Australian budgets

anz-federal-budget-underlying-cash-position-forecasts

Australia’s budget has been blown clean out of the water with the immigration it already has.

Roads would remain crowded, housing expensive

At the margins, traffic congestion might not continue to deteriorate as quickly if immigration was halted. But there’s no reason to believe it would get better.

Similarly, there would be fewer potential buyers of property. But tax incentives remain that promote excessive speculation on housing, and foreigners are still able to purchase property in Australia without actually migrating here. Furthermore, builders could simply respond to less demand by building fewer new homes.

HSBC’s Bloxham says the belief that ending migration would solve all the growing pains of Australian cities is a misnomer: “We have to keep building infrastructure to keep pace with the growth in the population. The better approach here is to find a way to build good infrastructure rather than slow down our growth prospects by limiting population growth.”

Jessica next wings in ‘from the margins’ with some ambient thoughts (completely unbacked by any sort of data or numbers) about road usage and immigration. But she does neatly observe that we do have taxation settings which promote real estate speculation and suggests that this will continue , and, even worse, that builders may ease back on the building if they don’t have the prospect of immigration hordes to ensure demand for their product – without considering for a moment that removing some of those may be the way to go, and may be a way to create the sort of economy which could encourage people to want to have children (to boost the population numbers if that is important) and GDP (ditto) and that flooding the nation with additional bums on seats which don’t do anything which contributes to additional national income is just making the problems she refers to worse. She dances around the same issue in noting that foreigners can buy real estate here without migrating here (and indeed can leave it completely empty) without squaring the logic circle.

Bloxo is wheeled out again to state the obvious insofar as the immigration we have run over the last 15 years now needs considerable infrastructure investment, without for a second twigging to the idea that Sisyphus would have found something appealing about the concept of building more infrastructure to bring in ever larger numbers of people.

Education and tourism would suffer

Export revenue from international students is worth more than $20 billion a year to the Australian economy and is today our third biggest export after coal and iron ore.

Tourism also supports the jobs of nearly one million Australians. The chief executive of the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia, Margy Osmond, says halting immigration would hurt the industry.

“Particularly for the Chinese market, holidays, education and long-stay family reunions are a big reason for them to come here, stay longer and spend more in our economy,” says Osmond.

Shutting the doors to New Zealanders would also hurt reunion visits from that country, which remains our biggest source of inbound tourists at 1.3 million visits a year.

“Overall, there is a tourism benefit from being perceived as an open, multicultural and welcoming country,” she says

Jessica now wheels out the Chief Executive of the Transport and Tourism forum – who chimes in with some motherhood statements (not about whether motherhood is good or not or whether people are more inclined to become mothers when they don’t think they are raising children for poverty or debt serfdom) about Chinese tourists staying longer if they visit relatives living here – is anyone suggesting we boot out people who have already migrated here? Jessica then breaks out the magic mushrooms to warn about what would happen to New Zealand based tourism if we shut the doors to Kiwis – and one really must wonder what she had been snorting to consider that possibility.

Jessica doesn’t lay a glove on the whole idea of education wearing an impact from reduced (or ended) immigration. But if she were to she presumably wouldn’t have gone anywhere near the concept that our education sector is effectively a backdoor through the visa system and that it has been marketed this way to foreign nationals for a number of years – to the point that it has largely trashed the reputation of Australian educational qualifications – and that this isn in large part the reason behind some (much/most?) of the $20 billion a year in education revenues she floats into the piece.

It’d be harder to find a doctor

Angela Julian-Armitage is a barrister and national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, a body representing Australia’s migration lawyers and agents, who in turn represent both migrants and businesses looking to hire migrants.

Without immigration, she says: “The skilled occupation lists would never get filled. Seeing doctors and nurses would be harder for everyone. A lot of businesses would have to close. Universities would collapse without international students’ income. We would have a rapidly diminishing taxation base to fund the running of the country and the ageing population, and – most of all – Australians who married a non-Australian overseas could not bring in their new spouse.”

As if it hasn’t been a bad enough day, Jessica reaches the nadir at the end when she brings in Angela, with a direct pecuniary interest in exhorting higher levels of immigration, to tee off, and even then Jessica fluffs it. Dear Jessica, would the skilled occupation list exist if we ended immigration? Or would we abandon immigration (assuming that there would be some logic in doing this) and leave the skilled occupation immigration lists there to remain forever unfulfilled? Does Angela (or Jessica for that matter) think it possible that we could train a few extra specialist ourselves to fill in supply shortages for whatever specialists we lacked? Does Angela think it possible that even if we ended immigration (assuming that this were desired) we could still enable some mechanism for Australians finding love offshore to bring their beloved to Australia, or does Jessica think that if we ended immigration then we would tell the increasing number of Australians heading overseas that once they hitch themselves up offshore then they may as well hand in their passport? How credible is that? Jessica? What planet are you on?

So there you have it: lower growth, a budget blowout, skills shortages and jobs put at risk. Proponents of halting migration should be careful what they wish for.

So there you have it…….

A Business/economic commentator who extrapolates a potential end to all immigration from ‘nearly’ half of Australians wanting to end Islamic immigration (circa 2% of Australia’s immigration intake) who is incapable of asking why we want population growth, and what purpose is served by it.

She then distinguishes herself (ostensibly an economic/business journalist) by blowing her ill thought out contentions out of the water by quoting Bloxo – of all people – to the effect that slowing economic growth may be done better with fewer people clinging to the lifeboat, and remaining unable to question taxation settings encouraging real estate speculation, or distorting outlays towards older Australians from a rapidly ageing taxpaying base (let alone a range of taxation concessions).

This is before we get to assertions unbacked by data vested interest being quoted to support a contention and a bucketload of palsied bull.

Jessica Irvine ought to look herself in the mirror and ask ‘Why am I a journalist’, ‘Am I a good journalist?’ or ‘Am I writing utter bullshit?’

There is no escaping that this piece is utter bullshit