Hot on the heels of the Productivity Commission’s recent report, Migrant Intake into Australia, comes another study.
This time it’s from the long-time pro-higher-immigration Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).
CEDA claims to have been ‘influential on immigration issues since 1963’ – and, unfortunately, it has been. Its recommendations in 1985 included the creation of a Bureau of Immigration Research and the implementation of a points system for skilled migration, both of which came about.
CEDA’s latest report, Migration: the economic debate, was released on 3 November 2016. The related media release announces that ‘Australia could absorb a greater migration intake’. CEDA’s modelling suggests that, if their recommendations for changes to the migration mix and numbers were followed, this ‘would allow net migration to rise to 400,000 by 2054. This compares with an earlier peak of 300,000 in 2008–09’ (Migration: the economic debate, page 96).
Peter Crone, chief economist for Coles and occasional adviser to CEDA, recently told a retailers’ conference that ‘the ace up our [i.e. Australia’s] sleeve is population growth which needs to be supported by government spending on infrastructure’ (Australian Financial Review, 29 September 2016, page 10).
We are therefore somewhat relieved that the foreword to CEDA’s report acknowledges that ‘concern over migration both domestically and internationally has been increasing’. We also note that the research has prompted some major caveats on their conclusions in favour of a bigger Australia: ‘this [increase] could only be done in conjunction with complementary policy that addresses adverse consequences of population growth such as infrastructure provision, urban congestion and environmental degradation’.
Such weasel-words have, however, been ineffectual previously. We hold no hope that the present government will address these vital issues in any more constructive a way than it has done in the past, despite Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi saying last week that Australia needs to halve its immigration intake.
As readers of this website will know, we oppose an ever-bigger Australia and we advocate a substantial lowering of net overseas immigration.
Meanwhile, here is a little good news from Melbourne, currently struggling with a population of 4.5 million people that’s growing at the rate of over 2% per annum. At the grassroots level, a meeting was held on 2 November to organise campaigns against a huge apartment block of 16 stories in North Fitzroy, an inner suburb where one- and two-storey 19th century buildings predominate. Chris Goodman, president of the 3068 Group (a local residents association), told the large gathering of concerned locals: ‘An important point to keep in mind when considering these things is that we are told Melbourne is heading for a population of ten million, and we haven’t been asked about this.’ To hear this big-picture statement at the outset of Goodman’s address was like a breath of fresh air, compared to the usual paranoia and reticence to speak frankly about this topic at such meetings.
Given that our government consistently fails to ask us about population targets and immigration policy, we remind readers of our ongoing campaign to encourage all voters in Australia to write REDUCE IMMIGRATION in the blank space atop ballot papers in local, state and federal elections and by-elections.
Commentary on the release of CEDA’s report comes from a range of voices. Here we list the coverage of which we are aware:
Thursday 3 November 2016
Jackson Gothe-Snape, ‘Too many backpackers: new report calls for cap on working holidaymakers’, SBS News Radio
Hamish Macdonald, ‘CEDA report urges rethink of Australia’s immigration policy’, ABC Radio National – Breakfast
The Drum, ABC TV
Leith van Onselen, ‘CEDA turns population ponzi booster’, Macrobusiness
Matt Wade, ‘Boost the migration intake but relieve population pressures on big cities: CEDA report’, Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 4 November 2016