For how long will Treasurer Jim Chalmers keep hiking immigration?
In light of the latest statement from Treasurer Jim Chalmers about needing to lift net overseas migration (NOM) even more than the 235,000 cited in the Budget, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) is asking: just how many more immigration hikes will there be?
At the Jobs and Skills Summit in September, the Treasurer hiked permanent migration by 22%, to 195,000.
“Clearly, the Big Australia baton has been passed from John Howard to Kevin Rudd to Scott Morrison and now to Anthony Albanese,” says Ms Jenny Goldie, SPA national president.
“They seem to focus only on big business’s claims of labour shortages but forget about the costs of population growth, born by State and local governments for infrastructure and by Australian households in stagnant wages and rising rents,” she says.
“The claimed skills shortages would be more convincing if all the ‘skilled’ migrants were employer-sponsored and paid above the average wage, as the ACTU now advocates. But most of them are being admitted with no job to go to and little prospect of finding one that uses their training. We’re likely to see a resurgence in illegal underpayment of migrants due to this massive influx.
“It is not just about skills shortages. It’s about how many people this country can sustain at a reasonable standard of living without destroying our natural environment. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we have already grown too big – from both the Australia State of the Environment 2021 report and ecological footprint analysis.
“The Treasurer pays lip service to training our own people but we have yet to see sufficient funding restored to our universities and TAFE colleges such that they can supply the skills the country needs.”
Ms Goldie says the government appears to be beholden to employers and forgets that workers were able to enjoy a respite from rampant population growth during the Covid years.
“Their party will be well and truly over if net migration is of the order of a quarter million or more annually,” she says.
“The bottom line is that importing skilled migrants is a form of poaching. We are letting the host country do all the hard yards in terms of educating them, and then we utilise their skills without compensation to their country of origin.
“And the question that everyone is asking: where will everyone live? Rising interest rates are causing mortgage stress and there is a shortage of rental properties across the country. The cost of renting is beyond the capacity of many to pay and increasing numbers of people are living cars and tents.
“It’s time Jim Chalmers paid attention to the preference expressed by two thirds of Australians for less population increase and more environmental responsibility.”