Immigration will be a problem for Team Turnbull
Malcolm the arrogant scoffs at limiting immigration, he believes he has got it right. Maybe it’s right up there at Point Piper but it’s not right anywhere else in Australia—if he cared to tune that bloody Tin-Ear of his! And, there’s another story to send unsuitable country shoppers out to rural areas, to do what? live in mud huts on the dole for life. Would somebody tell the government that years of systematic drought has damned near closed country towns down! Chris Mitchell in today’s Australian sounds an alarm bell of disquiet about Leftie, PC danger.
For more than 20 years Australia has been unable to debate immigration without commentators reaching for accusations of racism. It started with Pauline Hanson in Queensland in 1996 and the subsequent rise of One Nation, and has blown up in the past fortnight because of one late-night subscription television program hosted by a former Darwin politician who interviewed Blair Cottrell, a neo-Nazi and fan of Adolf Hitler, and two Andrew Bolt columns.
Source: News Corp
Debate on immigration silenced by elite outcry of ‘racism’
Sky News apologised immediately for the August 5 interview, but Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan used it to ban Sky News’s feed from train stations in Victoria. The Cottrell segment, not even shown in the train stations feed, was immediately criticised by Melbourne-based Bolt, who in his blog on August 6 said the interview by former Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles was a mistake.
“We at Sky News can’t attack other outlets for letting themselves be platforms for left-wing extremists and jihadism apologists, and then ourselves give a platform to a thug, bully and anti-Semite like Blair Cottrell,” Bolt wrote. Cottrell, the former leader of United Patriots Front, is a carpenter and body builder with a criminal record.
Bolt had been attacked in left-wing media for columns on August 1 and August 6 criticising high rates of immigration. Some media conflated these columns and the Cottrell interview to suggest a surge in racism at News Corp’s Sky News and in its newspapers. Yet Cottrell previously had appeared on free-to-air TV on Seven, Nine and the ABC, as Charlie Pickering gleefully pointed out on The Weekly last Wednesday night.
Robert Manne in Guardian Australia and Peter FitzSimons, John Birmingham and others in Fairfax Media detected in the focus on immigration a rise in racism at News Corp. Never mind that News co-chairman Rupert Murdoch is a long-term supporter of high immigration and a big Australia. Nor that many on the Left also question high immigration, starting with the Greens and former Labor NSW premier and foreign minister Bob Carr.
The debate made for strange bedfellows when The Sydney Morning Herald’s political and international editor Peter Hartcher told The Drum on ABC TV last Tuesday night that there was a conspiracy among “the elites” to silence discussion of immigration.
On RN Drive last Thursday night former Labor communications minister Stephen Conroy, who launched the Finkelstein inquiry into the media in 2012, urged the Victorian government to reconsider its Sky News ban. He appears on the network’s The Bolt Report and Paul Murray Live.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe bought into the immigration side of the debate last Wednesday with a speech highlighting the role of immigration in lowering the average age of the population — now only 37. Lowe told a Sydney business lunch the day after Australia’s population officially hit 25 million that our population growth rate of 1.5 per cent a year was consistently among the highest in the world and “a basis for optimism about the future of our economy”.
This paper’s contributing economics editor Judith Sloan, a former Productivity Commissioner and professor of economics, criticised Lowe’s speech and, as she has done all year, called immigration a Ponzi scheme that works to lower average ages only as long as immigration keeps rising. Sloan has written powerfully this year of the Productivity Commission’s finding that the main beneficiaries of immigration are the immigrants.
Former Hawke government minister Graham Richardson summed up the debate best in his Sky News show last Wednesday night discussing the 25 million figure, a landmark reached last week but projected in 2002 to hit in 2042. The nation had achieved a projected 40-year population growth in 16 years but most certainly had not built 40 years of infrastructure in 16 years, Richo said.
So what are the facts about immigration and racism? Hartcher was indeed right about the elites. Both sides of politics, the federal Treasury, the Reserve Bank and most tertiary institutions have a vested interest in population growth. It is so much easier than improving labour market productivity or governing smarter.
The Hawke government lifted the immigration intake from 54,000 in 1984 to 124,000 in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square massacre in China. The Howard government’s intake varied from 65,000 to 148,000. This often has passed 170,000 since the Rudd government, elected in 2007. To this has to be added the humanitarian intake, which generally is between 10,000 and 14,000 a year, among the highest in the world on a per capita basis.
On top of that the university sector has built a valuable export industry out of educating 300,000 foreign students a year, and temporary work visas, once called 457 visas, add another 100,000 workers a year.
Polling shows concern is rising at the overcrowding effects of population growth — most of it in Sydney and Melbourne — and up to 64 per cent would support a slowdown in immigration, according to Essential Research. The Australian’s Newspoll in April put the figure at 56 per cent.
Katharine Betts, of The Australian Population Research Institute, cites the 2016 Australian Election Study to highlight the divide between elite opinion and the wider community on immigration. The study shows 60 per cent of all candidates supported even higher immigration, including 67 per cent of Labor candidates. Betts says Labor candidates’ attitudes were “much closer to Greens candidates and Greens voters than to their own supporters”. She continues: “Taking (voters) concerns seriously risks … courting immorality … It stems from elite origins in the growing class of university graduates, a class imbued with progressive values … A clear majority of professionals working in the media want even higher immigration.”
TAPRI found many graduates think immigration sceptics are racists. “It (the study) also found that 65 per cent of voters know that this belief is widely held and that nearly half are inhibited by it,” Betts writes. Those most likely to want a reduction in immigrants were non-graduates, but even graduates who favoured a slower rate felt threatened about expressing their concerns.
Yet in anonymous polling, in research such as TAPRI’s and at the ballot box they can express their concerns freely and anonymously, as many undoubtedly did in the UK Brexit vote in June 2016 and in the Trump election that November. And as they are doing here by supporting One Nation in increasing numbers.
Bolt’s columns strayed from a discussion of the overcrowding effects of rising populations: lack of public transport, roads or new schools. He went to cultural issues of language and immigrant enclaves, opening himself to an attack from what TAPRI calls graduate “guardians against racism”. Yet he almost certainly expressed the honest views of millions of Australians who are in no way racist. They simply never voted for their country to morph into something they see as foreign.
These people live in suburbs that bear the brunt of overcrowding because they cannot afford the more salubrious areas inhabited by the finger-wagging knowledge classes of media, politics and tertiary education.