Pollies, media misunderstand population mood


Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he understood voter concern over congestion. But very little has changed. Rather, Morrison and the major parties, including the Greens, do not understand population pressure as polling this week revealed.

A Newspoll revealed that 80 per cent of NSW voters want the population to either fall or remain as it is. Only 16 per cent want it to increase.

Not only do politicians refuse to get the message that people do not want the population to grow. The Murdoch press also refuses to get the message. The Australian newspaper, which commissions Newspoll, ran a headline opposite to what the poll showed. It read “Most happy to keep population growth rates at current level”. No they are not. They do not want any population growth at all, let alone at the astonishingly high rate it is now.

Even the article confused “population growth” and “population”. It said a majority wanted the growth rate to stay the same when the question asked by the pollster was not about the growth rate of the population at all, but about the population itself.

No more people, the voters told the pollster. For that to happen immigration would have to be slashed.

But that has not happened. Some minor fudging of the figures still leaves us with at least 160,000 a year, and a lot more if you include the illegals.

On that score, at the very time Morrison boasted that he has stopped the boats, he has opened the airports to illegal immigration. People are arriving by air on visitor visas with the intention of over-staying and seeking bridging or protection visas.

How many? It was 28,000 in the most recent financial year. That is more than any year while Labor was in office, including people arriving by boat. In the six months to the end of January 14,231 air arrivals sought protection visas, so the number is rising. And they are worse queue-jumpers than people who came by boat, most of whom had genuine fears of persecution at home. 

The ones who come by air are truly “economic refugees”. Repressive governments simply do not allow people who they are suppressing to leave the country, even on a visitor’s visa.

The idea that Morrison has secured Australia’s borders is as ludicrous as his suggestion that he understands concerns about congestion.

The Coalition and Labor are more concerned about their donors than the environment and well-being of Australians.

And the increasing number of voters fed up with both of them should be wary of voting for the Greens. The Greens have not dared to put up an environmentally responsible population policy for Australia, fearing they might be accused of racism or being anti-refugee. But sensible immigration and population policy can be, and should be, colour-blind. If Australia cuts the overall intake it would be cutting the intake from Britain and New Zealand as well as India and China.

Many countries with small or no immigration programs are not racist. The Greens should put the environment first. And also consider whether it is fair to developing countries to skim off their best trained as our points-based system does.

The head of the Department of Immigration and Border Security, Mike Pezzullo, told Senate Estimates that 90 per cent of the new wave of asylum applicants have no legitimate claim.

He said there was a backlog of about 200,000 visa applicants whose status is yet to be determined. The determination process can stretch to up to eight years.

The arrivals pose an obvious security threat, given that people applying for visitor visas get only perfunctory checking.

They are also subjected to unscrupulous employment exploitation, working for miserable cash wages in the illegitimate economy.

We have used the Navy and an agreement with Indonesia to stop the highly visible boats to great effect. But now even more people are quietly flying in with the intention of overstaying against the law.

Unless we do something to tighten the system up we will become like the US, with a vast underclass of underpaid, undocumented exploited labour.

But maybe some employers prefer that, so Governments turn a blind eye.

Immigration is just one of the issues about which voters feel ignored by the major parties in the face of the interests of big donors. Unless corporate donations are banned and individual donations severely capped and made public immediately, the trend against the major parties will continue.

At the 2016 election fewer than a third of successful candidates got 50 per cent of the first preference vote. Two thirds relied on preferences.

At present, the major parties’ first-preference vote is hovering in the mid-30s. If it goes much lower we will hit a tipping point that will transform Australian politics. Independents and minor-party candidates will collectively have more first-preference votes than the worst major party in quite a few seats, thereby giving themselves a good chance of winning.

Once an independent or minor-party candidate wins a seat they usually win again at subsequent elections so the trend is towards almost permanent minority governments .

It may not happen in 2019 because Labor is reasonably well ahead, but if there are a few years of disillusion with a new Labor Government it could easily happen the following election. And the major parties would richly deserve it for not weaning themselves off the donation drip of big organisations who incessantly conspire against the public at large.


7 thoughts on “Pollies, media misunderstand population mood”

  1. Gabriel Garrigues you are the perfect example of peoples failure to understand Professor Albert Bartlett irrefutable logic : “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”
    If you can you think of any problem on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted or advanced by having larger populations at the local level, the state level, the national level, or globally let us all know.

  2. The electorate wants lower immigration, and lower population grow, and presumably one child family. This is a receipt for disaster and you know it. The electorate in England wanted to leave the EU too!

  3. This seems unlikely, Kylie. Shorten is as much aware as the PM that the boats are a red-hot (though numerically tiny) issue for the electorate, although one cannot be sure. Of greater concern is that right now there are more than 2 million short-term visa holders in the country (ABS number). The government includes these numbers in net overseas migration only when they stay for 12 of the last 16 months, so we have a floating population of around 2 million who use housing, roads, hospitals, public transport etc without their numbers appearing in the oft-quoted migration numbers. No wonder it feels crowded.

  4. Thank you for writing this article, there is a minor party (Sustainable Australia) that has been saying the exact things about population for many years. It gets ignored by the mainstream media. People are waking up, they had their first elected representative in the upper house in the recent vic elections. It will be interesting to see how they go in the NSW elections as they have contestants in most electorates.

  5. Another very fine article, Crispin.
    You have identified the appalling mess that is the Australian immigration system. Perhaps you might have touched a little more on the contribution of the Left to this mess, although you have touched on this by your discussion of the Greens and the extent to which they are no longer a serious environmental party.
    The Labor party will do no more to address the population/immigration problem, albeit for slightly different reasons. Labor is captive to powerful forces in the Left, some well-meaning, but all misguided, who conflate discussion of population with an attack on multi-culturalism and even refugees (you have, of course, mentioned this yourself). GetUp!, for example, would profess to have an environmental conscience, but it wilfully and dishonestly ignores the population issue. More tragically, that former icon of the Australian environmental movement, the ACF is now pretending we can address environmental decline and grow our population at the same time.
    All courage has been lost in this debate, save for your voice and one or two others … but I remain hopeful.

  6. All recent and reliable polls are clear-cut – the electorate wants lower immigration and lower population growth. Fat chance.

    No doubt with help from Howard or Greiner, Berejiklian buried her honest moment that immigration into NSW should be halved. She and Daley are back at the familiar phoney war on ‘congestion’ and ‘infrastructure’. And Morrison, Shorten, and Di Natale, are united that Big Australia is simply none of our business. No way is this a topic for discussion at the federal election.

    The number that really matters is Net Overseas Migration. That’s the number they use in NZ. In our 2018 Budget and in real life, NOM runs in excess of 230,000. Morrison’s real intentions as regards immigration and population should be revealed, as usual, in back of Budget Paper No. 3. As usual, the media will totally ignore what is the single most important parameter of the budget.

    Ardern did promise to rein in NOM – with some success. In NZ, as it is here, the big migration surge is Indian and Chinese. ‘Muslims’ are way down the list.

  7. Another poll taken for the NSW election stated 57% of voters thought climate change is another factor deciding population growth .My main concern under a Bill Shorten Govt boat. people from Indonesia will resume. This will potentially increase Australia’s population potentially by 1 million a year. There is a wait list of 10 million refugees wanting to call Australia home.

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