Government blind to public opinion on Australia’s migrant intake

Here are the top three of ten ‘key points’ found on page 2 of the Productivity Commission’s recent report, Migrant Intake into Australia.

  • Immigration policy has enduring effects on many dimensions of Australian life. Getting the policy settings right is critical to maximising community wellbeing.
  • The current immigration system has generally served the interests of the broader community well. The key question is whether current policy settings are set to deliver the best outcomes for the Australian community over the longer term.
  • Australia’s immigration policy is its de facto population policy. Decisions about immigration policy should be made within a broad context and explicitly take into account the associated economic, social and environmental impacts, including the differential impacts on state, territory and local governments. Community values and perspectives should inform the policy.

We welcome the report and agree that all ten points summarise the present situation concisely.

We are not, however, starry-eyed about any of the major political parties in Australia making substantive changes to the immigration programs – despite recent polls indicating that they should…

  • Essential Media Communications sampled popular opinion on the question ‘Would you support or oppose a ban on Muslim immigration to Australia?’ Their poll of 1000 Australians (reported on 21 September 2016)  showed 49% support for a ban, and 40% opposition.

The respondents to the Essential Media poll gave their reasons for supporting a ban as: They do not integrate into Australian society (41%); Terrorist threat (27%); and They do not share our values (22%).

Last June, our submission to the Productivity Commission made three comments relevant to the question of Muslim immigration:

  • ‘The wish to preserve one’s identity and the identity of one’s community and nation requires no justification, any more than the wish to have one’s own children and continue one’s family though them needs to be justified or rationalised.’
  • ‘In recent decades, the ethnic, racial and cultural shift in Australia’s demography has been dramatic. We recommend rebalancing the mix in favour of people of European descent.’
  • We also referred to research by Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam who has shown that social cohesion and integration is all-important for the well-being of both immigrants and the host community. We said: ‘Unfortunately, social cohesion is eroding as racial / ethnic gang violence, and individual terrorism events, erupt in our larger cities.’

As described in the Liberal Democrats Party submission to the Productivity Commission, ‘Senator David Leyonhjelm initially sought the Migrant Intake inquiry as part of negotiations over contentious immigration legislation’, with a particular focus on economic policy.

Fortunately, the Productivity Commission’s brief extends beyond economics to include social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians. ‘Its role, expressed most simply, is to help governments make better policies, in the long term interest of the Australian community. Its processes and outputs are open to public scrutiny and are driven by concern for the wellbeing of the community as a whole’ (Migrant Intake, p. ii). For this inquiry, the Commission was ‘given an opportunity to examine the entire immigration system to identify possible improvements’ (p. 50).

We encourage our readers to read the full set of findings from the inquiry, and the associated recommendations (pp. 37-47).

By and large, the recommendations seem reasonable. They provide a basis for the Government to run the immigration system better. Although the Productivity Commission did not recommend a reduction in the number of immigrants, its report is more cautious than previous government reports since 1988 (*).

At 731 pages, this latest Migrant Intake report is deeper and more considered than the Labor government’s 88 page Sustainable Australia – Sustainable Communities: A Sustainable Population Strategy for Australia (2011) which was meant to put us all at ease with regard to the threats of Big Australia but in fact lacked any strategy for implementation. But the Productivity Commission has failed to address head-on the fact that 70 per cent of Australians are opposed to a bigger Australia.

We note the Turnbull government’s early and partial response to one of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations, #13.8, concerning parent visa applicants. A new scheme for 5-year visas is now being planned, and submissions are invited on a number of questions raised in a Discussion Paper (published 23 September 2016; closing date for submissions 31 October).

We thank the Productivity Commission for its public service in conducting the inquiry. It’s better than nothing, but immigration still needs to be reduced – and the Commission should have said so!

Bipartisan non-discriminatory policies relating to immigration and multiculturalism have tied government hands for decades and are in urgent need of review – not only in respect of Muslim migrants, but also those from Asia and the sub-continent. (New readers should visit our posts from January 2015 on some lowlights from 2014  and cultural genocide.)

 

Postscript:

Our attention has been drawn to research findings that reflect further concern in Australia about the impact of Muslim immigrants on social cohesion. Here is some of the coverage (27 September 2016) of that research:

Marry a Muslim? Six out of ten Australians ‘concerned’ (University of New South Wales)

Education the key to fighting Islamophobia: Deakin researchers (Deakin University)

New national snapshot finds 60 per cent of Australians would be concerned if a relative married a Muslim (The Age)

 

(*) Footnote:

Over recent decades our Federal Governments (not to mention State Governments) and their agencies / statutory authorities have produced dozens of studies, reports and recommendations on Immigration, Population, Sustainability, and Multiculturalism policy for various purposes and with differing emphases.

We think the two best and most comprehensive studies of the last 25 years were produced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee for Long Term Strategies, chaired by Barry Jones (Australia’s Population ‘Carrying Capacity’: One nation – two ecologies, 1994) and by CSIRO (Future Dilemmas: Options to 2050 for Australia’s Population, Technology, Resources and Environment, 2002).

We provide links to these and other reports on our page, Historic information about immigration policy.

 

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