Economists wrong again

Another week and another embarrassment for the cabal of economists and commentators who for decades have asserted that high immigration is essential for Australia’s prosperity.

This week the national accounts showed that the Australian economy grew by 1.8 per cent in the March quarter to fully recover from 2020s steep recession and back to its pre-pandemic levels.

And with the boders shut, this is with about 600,000 fewer people to spread the wealth among. We are doing better without immigration, and we should not resume pre-pandemic levels when the border is re-opened.

Journalists must stop the innate bias of reporting that lower immigration and lower population growth or falling population are “Bad Things”. They should be reported as “Good Things”.

And the falling property prices which will follow after an initial blip should also be reported as a “Good Thing” making housing “more affordable”. 

Also can we stop the rot about the burdens of an ageing population.

Ask any parent in their 30s and 40s with kids as to who is the bigger burden, the kids or their 65-plus parents. Invariably, the answer will be the former.

Given the costs, especially education, of supporting children we should be more concerned about a younger age profile not an older one. Given so few people are in manual labour which precludes working much beyond 65, the aged are not a burden. Many work well in to their 80s. 

Also, it is a same hypocritical cabal that wants to stop legislated increases in superannuation contributions. If they were really worried about the ageing population, they would be calling for higher superannuation, not lower.

These economists should do their professional duty and call it as it is and not side with big property and big retail who profit from high immigration.

Business, politicians and the cabal who support them should just say, “We want high immigration to line our pockets; to do our donors’ bidding; or to swagger more self-importantly on the world stage.” But they should not pretend that it is any good for the economy, environment or the well-being of the existing population.

Journalists and commentators from the centre and left who have long and correctly supported multiculturalism should now also get a dose of reality. From 1945 to about 1975 immigration gave us a multicultural society and was economically beneficial. But we do not need more immigration to keep the advantages of a multicultural society. We have already got those advantages. All we need is acknowledgement, recognition and respect for a diversity of cultures.

If they are really worried about race and immigration, they should look at it from an indigenous perspective. High immigration is just a continuation of the invasion.

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In a way it is shame the Christian Porter case against the ABC was settled. A court’s ruling on this act of political communication and whether the Constitution protected it would have been illuminating.

However, Porter was in a fairly desperate position for two reasons, and faced with that, it is entirely understandable that he took a somewhat face-saving resolution.

First, he was not named in the article. It just referred to a Cabinet Minister. The law says that to get defamation damages Porter would have to show that the publication carrying the defamatory imputation that rape occurred was about him.

That might have been difficult. If he could sue, so could every male Cabinet Minister unless he could show that something in the publication pointed to him – as distinct from Canberra bubble rumour.

Second is the constitutional defence.

This is based on the fact that the Constitution establishes a system of representative democracy that implies voters must be well informed and that state and federal defamation law must not be an unreasonable impediment to the flow of information to the voter.

The ABC reported that the Prime Minister had been sent a detailed account that a member of his Cabinet a raped a woman 30 years ago.

Question: in a representative democracy should voters be apprised of this fact. And if so, is it just too bad that every male member of the Cabinet is under suspicion?

Question: should a media organisation fearful of state defamation laws say to itself, “We cannot prove that every male member of Cabinet committed rape, nor could we name and prove the allegation against one male Cabinet member, so therefore we cannot publish the fact that this letter went to the PM?” If that were the case, the voter would never get to know critical information which could inform their vote.

The High Court has held that a publisher must act reasonably. It has held that putting the allegations to the impugned person and publishing their side of the story is usually an essential part of reasonableness.

But in this case that would be impossible because it would mean that the publisher would be identifying the impugned person.

A court might well hold that therefore it would be reasonable to publish without putting the allegations to any Cabinet member.

Porter would have been told of these risks and the consequences of losing the case. That would result in a heavy costs order and more importantly the practical and political consequence of many voters wrongly concluding on the basis of that loss alone that Porter had committed the rape.

Further, the court had ruled that Porter’s counsel could no longer continue representing him because of a conflict of interest.

Small wonder he discontinued with only a small concession by the ABC that some readers might have drawn the wrong conclusion and that it could not be proven on the civil or criminal standard that Porter had done the things alleged .

But the ABC stood by the importance of reporting the fact that the information had been sent to the PM.

Where does this leave us? Back to Square One. What has the Prime Minister done, if anything, about the information? Upon that, voters might well judge him, his government and those who serve in it.

Crispin Hull

The article first appeared in The Canberra Times and rother Australian media on 5 June 2021.

4 thoughts on “Economists wrong again”

  1. The man should resign as he is ruined politically, as he should be. I would have preferred it went to trial as it would have set an important precedent and that would have been worth knowing for the future of the free press. Scott Morrison needs to act now, but he wont…

  2. Well said Crispin , How do we get these facts out to the swinging voters ? Australia cannot afford another term of this headstrong ,arrogant bunch of self serving pollywafflers.

  3. The Frydenberg Budget dictates a swift (2023-24) return to unwanted “Big Australia” levels of mass immigration. Albanese’s Reply indicates consent.

    But here’s the key difference. If COVID ignites Morrison’s political backside, he just might “flip” on immigration. I wonder if anything could flip Albanese.

  4. I think your position on immigration is correct from the viewpoint of an Australian economist. I think, however, that it wrong from a “justice as fairness” perspective that makes value judgements from the point of view behind a veil of ignorance – independent of birthplace, gender, religion, parents’ wealth etc…

    I know the “Rawlsian” perspective is politically unpopular, to say the least, but that does not make it the wrong. It just shows how crass and biased we are, how dysfunctional our local and global political institutions are, and how we are not as ‘sapiens’ as we delude ourselves of being. I support immigration not for Australia’s sake but for the sake of the immigrant who has decided her/his birthplace sucks and decides to take the risk of migrating to a better place with a reasonable chance of offering better outcomes for their children. A form of wealth redistribution from rich to poor at the global scale.

    I do not however support the immigration of already skilled migrants who drain their birthplace of the skills that would have raised the quality of life in their birthplace.

    So your article comes down to who “we” are. Human first and Australians second or Australians first and humans second? I can’t see how it makes sense to prioritise being Australian over being human either logically or in good conscience.

    And so Crispin, I agree with your pov on most policy positions, but not this one. (My personal bias? My parents were non-English speaking refugees who left school when they were fourteen. I continued university studies till I was twenty-eight. Thank you to a post-war Australia that was more compassionate and empathic than it is today.

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