An Australian Reader Reports Not NEARLY Enough Talk About Immigration In Australia's Latest Federal Election
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From: Phil Shannon [Email him]

Australia went to the polling booths on May 18th but immigration only made fleeting appearances in an otherwise insipid election campaign, despite immigration-restriction being highly popular amongst the Australian public.

Both the center-right Liberal/National party government (which won) and the opposition centre-left Australian Labor Party paid mere lip service to immigration-control whilst keeping the structural policy settings intact.

The Lib/Nats announced that they would “cut” annual permanent settler-immigration to 160,000 but this “new” target simply maintains the immigration status quo and will keep Australia at the very apex of the developed West in terms of per capita immigration.

The Lib/Nats also boasted that they would freeze Australia’s refugee intake at its current annual level of 18,750. They have been less voluble, however, about the fact that it was on their government watch that Australia’s refugee immigration stream climbed from 13,750 to its new high which will be locked-in by the new “freeze”, making Australia still the largest per capita permanent resettler of refugees in the world.

For their part, the Labor Party promised to legislate to force employers pay short-term skilled-worker immigrants a higher minimum wage so that they lose their attractiveness as a source of cheap labour and wage suppression. Australia’s 83,000 skilled-worker immigrant visa-holders, however, constitute only 5% of the total temporary foreign worker intake of 1.6 million (including international students, backpackers and others with work rights in Australia). As good as it sounds, Labor’s policy won’t address 95% of the problem of cheap foreign labour.

Labor also planned to increase Australia’s refugee intake from 18,750 to 27,000, wilfully oblivious to the fact, as revealed by former senior Immigration Department officials, that large numbers of illegal arrivals who claim asylum are fraudulent and have been coached in how to scam the refugee system.

Most egregious from the party of “Diversity”, however, is Labor’s plan to open the floodgates for visas for parents of immigrants by slashing the cost of a parent visa by 75% and removing the annual cap on the number of immigrants’ parents admitted to Australia. This will dramatically increase immigration through “family reunification”. As the pent-up demand for parent immigration is huge (100,000 applications are in a decades-long queue; see the Migration Program Report), this will trigger a wave of “grey” immigrants who will splurge on taxpayers’ money for pensions, health, aged care and other welfare services whilst contributing nothing in tax in return—the government’s own Productivity Commission reports that the estimated “cumulative lifetime fiscal costs” to government of a parent of an immigrant are between $335,000 and $410,000 per parent.

What we had here from both major parties is a paltry effort to placate an Australian public unenamoured of high immigration (depending on the survey, between 54% and 64% of Australians want to see less of it) by making the right-sounding noises on immigration-restriction but only fiddling on the policy edges. Politicians from the major parties, utterly beholden to pro-immigration corporate Australia, are out of touch with popular sentiment on immigration: whilst over half of all Australians want to see immigration reduced, only 4% of all candidates in Australia’s previous (2016) federal election wanted lower immigration.

Australia’s major parties are so anxious to court the immigrant vote, and so cravenly terrified of being labelled "racist", "xenophobic" or "Islamophobic" if they dare to challenge Australia’s immigration policy fundamentals, that they shy away from running hard on immigration-restriction which would be what we call in Australia a "lay-down-misère" election-winning hand.

See previous letters from Phil Shannon, a veteran Australian working class socialist and supporter.

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