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Sceptics About High Immigration

August 12, 2011

People who are sceptics about the much touted benefits of high-immigration should join Sustainable Population Inc. I have their current newsletter in front of me.

On the front page it gives a useful summary of the latest research by Professor Bob Birrell that establishes that net overseas migration of 90 000, half that of the current 180 000, is enough to sustain the resources boom Mark 2. The report challenges many of the assumptions underpinning the arguments for continuing high levels of immigration. When it was released four weeks ago it deserved more publicity. As the newsletter puts it:

Industry has been claiming that, unless net overseas migration is kept at 180,000 or higher, there will not be enough skilled workers to meet employer requirements and to sustain aggregate economic growth.

The report has found, however, that with net overseas migration at 90,000 a year, and labour force participation rates unchanged, the workforce will expand by 1 million over the 11 years to 2021. And according to [the] Centre for Population and Urban Research … if participation rates continue to increase as they have over the past decade, workforce growth will be nearer to 1.7 million over this period.

William Bourke – the convener of the Sustainable Population Party – writes for the newsletter. His heading says it all: More bills than skills from this migration.

The newsletter contains an edited speech by Kelvin Thompson, the MP for Wills, on the issue of increasing skilled migration. He outlines seven problems with it. His fifth objection is about Australia becoming addicted to skilled migration as an alternative to educating and training our own young people:

Going back two or three decades, governments dropped the ball on training. Governments closed technical schools and cit back on technical education. Private employers lost interest in taking on apprentices. We started outsourcing out requirement for training. This has been an addictive, self-fulfilling circle and we need to break the habit. Those countries which do not run a big migration program put more effort into education and training their young people, and they have better participation rates as a consequence.

All this has got to be seen in a planetary context, and the newsletter has an excellent article by Rob Engelman, Executive Director of Worldwatch Institute, dealing with the question of how the world can stop growing from its current population of seven billion.

Get on the mailing list. Contact Sustainable Population Australia– and I declare that I am one of their patrons – at info@population.org.au or PO Box 3851, Weston Creek ACT 2611.

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