Call by AIG for increased migrant intake unwarranted
The call by Innes Wilcox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group to lift the cap on immigration from 160,000 to between 190,00 and 200,000 is unwarranted, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
SPA argues that the so-called skills shortage is over-rated and does not require a return to pre-Covid levels of immigration.
SPA national president Ms Jenny Goldie says the federal government’s systematic withdrawal of funds from both the university and TAFE sector over many years is responsible for any skills shortage and this is where funds must be re-instated to provide any skills needed.
“Of course, because of the failure of government, some skills may need to be imported in the short term,” says Ms Goldie. “Nevertheless, in the long-term, it is the responsibility of any government to properly fund training institutions that will provide all the skills that are needed for a functioning economy.
“The question of whether there is indeed a skills shortage is another issue,” says Ms Goldie. “The call for ever more immigrants could well be a smokescreen for importing workers simply to keep wages low.
“Australia has suffered wage stagnation for years. It was only when Covid hit and borders closed that workers in some industries at least were able to ask for, and get, a pay rise.
“SPA is not opposed to the free flow of skilled workers. Nevertheless, it is tantamount to poaching when poorer countries train workers only to have them snapped up by wealthier countries such as Australia who should have been training their own,” she says.
SPA maintains that an excessively high immigration program delays stabilisation of the population which is necessary for economic and social reasons, but mainly environmental ones.
“Even without climate change, Australia has a fragile environment with limited potential for accommodating huge numbers of people,” says Ms Goldie. “We are overpopulated now at current standards of living and need to stabilise our numbers as soon as possible.
“It has long been believed that immigration-driven population growth is essential and that the benefits far exceed the costs. Now, however, we find that the economic, social and environmental costs of growth have grown to the point where our wellbeing has actually declined in the last 50 years.
“Each migrant incurs infrastructure costs exceeding $100,000, congestion and housing are major worsening issues, and our life-supporting ecosystems are in serious decline.”
Ms Goldie says such realities have caused about 70% of Aussies to reject further population growth.
“Consequently, the criteria for economic, social and ecological decisions should now be framed around population stabilisation rather than growth.”