Judith Sloan writes in today’s The Australian:
“Let’s consider what the Coalition has decided in relation to the annual permanent migrant intake, a figure that is traditionally announced at budget time. Instead of the non-binding cap of 190,000, the figure will be set at 160,000.
The trouble is that the actual number of permanent migrants has been about 160,000 for the past two years. By going slow and tinkering with processes, Home Affairs has been able to reduce the number of permanent residence stamps it hands out.
That doesn’t mean that many of those future permanent migrants aren’t already here. Moreover, some of them — partners of citizens and permanent residents, for example — have a right to permanent residence, so it’s just a matter of timing.
Here’s the thing: the permanent intake numbers are not the ones that count, given our ludicrously high number of temporary migrants, many of whom can stay for years and years. And let’s remember that the Coalition just introduced some new temporary visa categories, including grandparents, agricultural workers, actors and athletes and regional agreements.
Forget about the supposed “cut” of 30,000 in the number of permanent migrants; these new visa categories will boost the population by much more 30,000 each year. And bear in mind that the 30,000 cut wasn’t real in the first place.
The key figure is net overseas migration: the latest figure will be released tomorrow. It counts everyone who is here for 12 months out of 16 months. It has been running at massively high levels — well over 200,000 and all the indications are that the latest figure will be higher again.
The real take-home message is this: the Coalition government is completely captured by the big Australian lobbyists (think big business, industry associations, universities and some community groups) and won’t do a thing to reduce population growth. And bear in mind that Australia’s population growth is extremely high by the standards of developed economies and higher again in Sydney and Melbourne.
Note that the Coalition’s stance is taken in the face of overwhelming evidence from multiple surveys that most Australians think the rate of population growth is too high and want the migrant intake to be cut. But rather than act in the national interest, the Coalition prefers to curry favour with its mates.”
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has told Paul Murray Live on Sky News, the situation is only going to get worse if Bill Shorten gets elected in May.