High immigration adversely affects our environmental and economic sustainability, social cohesion and cultural integrity. A summary of the continuing need for the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign can be found in our Select Bibliography for 2015.
In the year just ending, immigration issues have created harrowing times for Europe and many other parts of the world. Here are a few items of special relevance to Australia.
The Good News…
Australia’s net overseas immigration (NOM) has reduced a little. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released (in Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2015) its preliminary estimates for the financial year 2014-15:
The preliminary estimate of net overseas migration recorded for the year ended 30 June 2015 (168,200 people) was 11.4%, or 21,600 people lower than the net overseas migration recorded for the year ended 30 June 2014 (189,800 people).
The Bad News…
- Despite the slight fall in intake that’s reported above as Good News, the 2014-15 actual NOM figure represents 1.6 times the capacity of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or approximately two federal electorates – that’s a lot of immigrants! And the immigration targets for Australia are still excessively high. For 2015-16, the government has provided for up to 190,000 permanent migration places and 13,750 humanitarian places, plus an additional 12,000 humanitarian places for Syrian refugees, with ongoing pressure to accept more.
- At its AGM on 4 July 2015, Victoria First retreated from its earlier endorsement of the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign, due to a short-sighted lack of courage by its Executive. (Their only fresh idea for the future is to fold their tent, and wind up the association – with their modest residual funds being directed to the Victorian & Tasmanian branch of Sustainable Population Australia.)
A Mixed Bag…
In September, the Australian Institute for Progress released its report on a survey conducted in November 2014, Australian Attitudes to Immigration. While the sample group was, by their own admission, severely limited through ‘a significant skew towards Greens and Labor’ – ‘we miss out on many blue-collar, working-class voters’ – the research valiantly attempts to wrestle with the complex issues associated with understanding how Australians view immigration. Nevertheless, the questions they pose are interesting, and the mixed bag of responses gives food for thought. Their media release on the launch of their report suggests that it reveals ‘a nation deeply divided on issues around immigration, refugee policy and arrivals from Islamic countries’ and shows that ‘Australians are not only polarised on immigration, but they are very much “talking past” one another – using the same words to indicate radically different things’. Many respondents, for example, are so fixated on the illegal arrival of refugees (part of the Humanitarian program) that they are unable to comment rationally on the larger immigration program and picture. Every day, we see and hear such distortion of perception reflected in the media; this report epitomises the problem, but also lays a foundation for further research on complex and thorny issues.
- In November, the Productivity Commission released its draft report, Migrant Intake into Australia. Elements from our submission are reported in Box 4.2 (page 115) and Box 6.2 (page 186). As we noted at the time, the focus of the report’s recommendations is unfortunately on immigrants, not on ‘incumbent Australians’ or the environment. Public hearings on the draft report were held in December. At the Melbourne hearings, the REDUCE IMMIGRATION arguments were made persuasively by several speakers who out-numbered those from the pro-immigration lobby. Submissions and transcripts are available on the Commission’s website. We await the final report in March 2016.
- The Department of Immigration and Border Control released a discussion paper on ‘Australian Citizenship – your right, your responsibility’ and invited public submissions by the end of June 2015 – but has not made it clear if or when they will produce a response to those submissions. A bit odd, if they truly wanted to hear our views! Meanwhile, quiet panic on the topic of social cohesion continues: see Rita Panahi’s report, ‘Immigrants to sit “cultural respect” test to earn Australian citizenship under proposal’, Herald Sun, 9 December 2015.
- Plebiscites are an excellent way to assess public opinion as a guide to government action. Earlier this year we canvassed the idea of a REDUCE IMMIGRATION Yes/No plebiscite not long before (then) PM Tony Abbott rightly decided the people should have a say on the (less important than immigration levels) issue of ‘Gay Marriage’. We have made sure the PM and many others have received our communications on the REDUCE IMMIGRATION plebiscite. We hope for its eventual inclusion!
This year, if only they had known about the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign, 7,199,273 Australian voters would have had the opportunity to send the REDUCE IMMIGRATION message through the electoral process (not counting local government polls). These were the people who lodged formal votes at the New South Wales state election (4,404,334), the Queensland state election (2,623,443), and at federal by-elections in Canning WA (89,717) and North Sydney (81,779).
If only a number of high-profile people and organisations who are on the public record as having concerns about Australia’s immigration-driven population growth had spoken up about this non-partisan campaign! For reasons not clear to us, the following have been dismissive up to now about the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign: Dick Smith, Graham Turner, Bob Carr, Tim Flannery, Ian Lowe, Ross Gittins, Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi, Tom Elliott, William Bourke, Kelvin Thompson, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Greens, Sustainable Population Australia and the Sustainable Population Party. Feel free to pester them on this issue!
A federal election is due at some stage in 2016. Also, the Northern Territory is expected to go to the polls on 27 August 2016 and the Australian Capital Territory on 15 October 2016. See how to participate in the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign, and check our FAQ page for further information.
We encourage all readers to spread news of the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on campaign to friends, family, elected representatives and influential leaders.