Australia’s migrant intake 1997-98 – Submission by AESP National Office to the Dept. of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA), 1996

10 October 1998






To: Federal Minister for Immigration

The following is the Executive Summary of the 39 page submission made by AESP to the Federal Minister for Immigration in relation to the 1997-98 migrant intake.

Executive Summary

AESP’s goal is the ecological sustainability of Australia’s TOTAL population, including permanent, long term and short term. In terms of per capita environmental impact, we make no distinction between those born in Australia and those born elsewhere.

Our present total population of over 18.4 million is unsustainable. Population growth is not only driving biodiversity loss on land and in our rivers and oceans, but is also driving atmospheric emissions which damage ecosystems far from Australia.

AESP calls on the Government to develop a population policy that will have our total population peaking at the lowest possible level and then declining back to a sustainable level, which – on all the available scientific evidence – will be under 18.4 million.

While the Government can, and should, rein in natural increase by following the New Zealand example of heavily subsidising contraception to cut unintended pregnancies, if present trends continue, in the next 30 years (ie by 2031) net overseas migration (permanent and long term) will contribute twice as much to our population growth as will natural increase, taking our resident population to over 28 million by 2051.

AESP is extremely concerned that for year ended 30 June 1996, our net overseas migration gain (permanent and long term) was over 114,000 – up 43% on the previous year. We believe – as does the Australian Conservation Foundation – that Australia must, at a minimum, achieve zero net migration as swiftly as possible.

To that end, we ask that the Minister announce this year a three year plan to cut visaed permanent immigrants by 20,000 each year and long term arrivals by 10,000 each year.

For 1997-98 this would mean a total permanent visaed migrant intake of 66,000.

We suggest that the 20,000 cut be made in the Migration Program rather than in the Humanitarian Program. Thus the 1997-98 intake would be 54,000 for the Migration Program (down from 74,000 in 1996-97) and 12,000 for the Humanitarian Program.

By applying these annual cuts for 3 years, in year ended 30 June 2000 the net gain from overseas migration would be around 15,000 – still not down to zero, but getting close.

After 3 years, in year ended 30 June 2000, the total visaed migrant intake would be 26,000 : 12,000 in the Humanitarian Program and 14,000 in the Migration Program.

Although our reasons are environmental, we see strong support for our position in the views of the Australian community and in recent economic evidence.

Polls show that 70% of Australians believe immigration is still too high, and only 2% or 3% believe it is too low. A recent poll found that 62% of Australians would now support a moratorium on immigration, and would thus regard the cuts we suggest as too mild.

Our submission highlights some important new economic evidence, produced – but not publicised – by the former BIR, which shows that immigrants cost Australian governments about $26,000 each, much more than had previously been believed. We submit that this requires a rethink of the Concessional Family and parts of the Skill intake.

The strategy AESP recommends would allow the Minister to bring in a policy which delivers environmental and economic benefits, is humanitarian, and has wide community support. Without such a strategy, Australia’s population will blow out far beyond even the 23 million peak which the Minister has said publicly most Australians would accept.

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