It’s not racist to debate immigration levels

It’s not racist to debate immigration levels. By Peta Credlin.

Have you ever wondered why Australia’s immigration levels have gone up and up but we’ve never really had a debate about whether this is in the national inter­est?

The same applies to questioning the extent to which the quantum of immigration should depend on the state of the labour market, the availability of housing and the quality of our infrastructure.

For the record, my view is that current levels of immigration (tipped to be 750,000 over two years) are much too high. Even the levels of the decade before the pandemic (averaging 240,000 a year) were too high, not because those migrants wouldn’t turn out to be good Australians but because bringing in a city the size of Canberra every two years puts downward pressure on wage rates, upward pressure on housing costs and massive pressure on infrastructure. And none of this is being done according to any cogent plan. …

During the Howard era, immigration averaged about 110,000 a year. Especially after the government brought the first wave of illegal migration by boat under control, immigration mostly had reasonable community support.  …

Every person who comes, other than as a tourist, needs a job, a home and a means of getting around. …

Due to the arbitrary way we measure economic growth:

I will never forget sitting in a discussion with senior ministers hearing Treasury officials explain that the best way to get economic growth over 3 per cent was to boost immigration because each extra worker added to the size of the economy. And the officials’ dismay when the Abbott government engineered some modest (and short-lived) reductions in net overseas migration.

Hence the constant official emphasis on how supposedly “skilled” our migration program is because migrants improve gross domestic product per person only if their skill levels, on average, exceed that of the existing population. That’s despite the reality that most so-called skilled migrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds are not working in their area of supposed skills five years after arriving; once here, they often end up working as cleaners, carers, waiters and drivers — all the jobs that Australians born here increasingly refuse to do. …

High immigration keeps “inflation” (actually the CPI) under control because the main cost in most of the goods and services in the CPI are the wages of lower paid workers:

Universities are a massive lobby for higher migration via the overseas students who have become their business model.

Big business likewise because higher supply of labour keeps wages lower than they otherwise would be and because a larger population means more demand for goods and services.

For the federal government, at least, higher migration and its boost to overall GDP provides an apparent vindication of its economic management while its costs in extra demand for schools, hospitals, housing and transport infrastructure fall disproportionately on the states.

Keeping “inflation” under control means the money supply can be expanded faster than otherwise, so asset prices — of houses, stocks, and bonds — rise faster. An win-win for those with money, like boomers or the wealthy.

Cannot complain or you’re a racist:

Significant sections of the public are reluctant to voice their own instincts about ever higher migration lest they be accused of racism.

An important piece of research released on Wednesday by the Australian Population Research Institute shows, says its author, demographer Katharine Betts, that “many Australians feel silenced and afraid to speak on some public matters … because they don’t want to be labelled as racist”.

Her conclusion is based on a detailed survey last year of more than 3000 Australians (weighted to be representative) who were asked: “Do you think that people who raise questions about immigration being too high are sometimes seen as racist?” Only 36 per cent said no and 13 per cent “don’t know”.

The 51 per cent who said yes were then asked to choose between two statements: “This is unfair because very few of them are racist”, to which 33 per cent of the overall sample agreed; or “This is because they usually are racist”, to which 19 per cent agreed….

Betts says this 19 per cent, whom she terms “guardians against racism”, who were disproportionately in favour of high immigration and felt disproportion­ately more free to talk about their views, tended to be “younger, better educated and more financially secure than other voters” and therefore had a “pervasive … role in keeping a lid on open debate”.

“Theirs is a moral position, not a material one” she says, and “because of this they are likely to see those who don’t share their position as morally suspect and to see their shaming as legitimate”.

These guardians against rac­ism, Betts says, have created a “censorious climate” that “mutes public discussion but seems not to have changed the opinions of the majority”.

Overall, 70 per cent thought Australia should have “somewhat lower”, “much lower” or “nil” levels of net migration. Yet thanks to her so-called guardians against racism, Betts thinks, this strong majority is rarely heard in public debate and has almost no impact on public policy.

A party that simply committed to cut immigration substantially would easily win the next Australian election.