Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fresh blood: Australia is still lucky, thanks to our young migrants

Ross Gittins is perfectly right in what he says below but he ignores two elephants.  The first issue he ignores is the RATE of immigration and its effect on our infrastructure.  Immigration driven population growth is outrunning our capacity to provide the infrastructure needed for a civilized existence.  We spend longer and longer unproductive time in our cars due to ever worsening traffic jams and already stretched public hospitals become overstretched.  And overstretched hospitals mean diagnostic mistakes and longer and longer waits for service.  Those things matter.

And the second elephant is the assumption that all immigrants are the same.  For their own strange purposes, Leftists pretend that all men are equal when that is not remotely true.  Fortunately, most of our immigrants come from Britain, India and China -- people who are no problem to anyone.  But there are two minorities that create big problems:  Muslims and Africans, who are both heavily welfare dependent and hence do little or none of the useful things Gittins extols. 

And it is amazing the amount of problems such small groups can cause -- through Jihad and violent crime.  It is those groups who are making many Australians critical of immigration generally. There are options to send problem migrants back to whence they came but such options are rarely used.  A minimum approach to the problems they cause would be to accept no more migrants from those sources

Reserve Bank governor Dr  Philip Lowe thinks Australia’s strong population growth in recent years is a wonderful thing, and he sings its praises in a speech this week.

I’m not sure he’s right. Like most economists and business people, Lowe is a lot more conscious of the economic benefits of population growth than the economic costs. As for the social and environmental costs, they’re for someone else to worry about.

But whatever your views, you’ll be heaps better informed after you’ve seen what he says about our changing “population dynamics” and absorbed his tutorial on demography.

Over the past decade, our population has grown at an average rate of about 1.6 per cent a year. This is faster than in previous decades. It’s also faster than every advanced economy bar Singapore.

Most other rich countries – including the US and Britain – grew by well under 1 per cent a year over the period. The populations of Italy, Russia and Germany were stagnant, and fell in Japan and Greece. China’s annual growth averaged only 0.5 per cent.

What’s driving our growth is increased immigration, of course. Over recent times, net overseas migration has added about 1 per cent a year to the population, with “natural increase” (births minus deaths) adding only about 0.7 per cent.

Our rate of natural increase is pretty steady. It perked up a bit a decade ago, but quickly resumed its slow decline, as more couples have smaller families and some have none.

Net migration, by contrast, goes through a lot of peaks and troughs – which, not by chance, correlate well with the ups and downs of the business cycle.

We think of the government controlling immigration with a big lever (making it “exogenous” or coming from outside the system, as economists say, pinching the word from medicos) but many demographers see immigration as “endogenous” or determined within the system.

This has become truer as permanent migration becomes dominated by workers with skills we need, rather than by family reunion, and there’s more temporary migration by overseas students and skilled workers brought in by employers to fill a temporary shortage.

The resources boom showed temporary skilled migration was great at helping us control (wage-driven) inflation, one of Lowe’s primary concerns as boss of the central bank.

But I worry our young people are paying the price for this greater macro-economic flexibility. We’re schooling our employers not to bother training plenty of apprentices ready for the next shortage because it’s easier to wait until the shortage emerges and then pull in a tradesperson or three from overseas.

Sorry, back to Lowe’s speech. He notes that growth in the number of people here on temporary visas adds to the size of our population. For instance, there are now more than half a million overseas students studying in Australia.

Here’s a stat you probably didn’t know: about a sixth of foreign students are permitted to stay and work here after finishing their studies. This boosts our population. Always a man to look on the bright side, Lowe reminds us it also boosts the nation’s “human capital”.

Plus, he’s too polite to say, it does so free of charge. It’s a neat trick: we charge foreign parents in developing countries full freight to educate their children, then allow the best of 'em to stay on.

But wait, there’s more: we also benefit from our stronger overseas connections when foreign students return home, Lowe says.

Now for his big reveal. Particularly because of our emphasis on skilled workers and students (as opposed to bringing out nonna and nonno), the median age of new migrants is between 20 and 25, more than 10 years younger than the median age of the rest of us.

At the time of Treasury’s first intergenerational report in 2002, our present median age of 37 was expected to rise rapidly to more than 45 by 2040. But after the past decade of increased immigration of young people, the latest estimate is that the median age will be only about 40 by then.

“This is a big change in a relatively short period of time, and reminds us that demographic trends are not set in stone,” Lowe says.

This means that, on the question of population ageing, and looking at the latest projections over the next quarter of a century, we compare well with other advanced economies, he says.

First, our median age of 37 makes Australia one of the youngest countries. We are ageing more slowly than most of the others, meaning we’re projected to stay relatively young. This is better than earlier projections suggesting we’d move to the middle of the pack.

Second, we have a higher fertility rate than most rich countries. Australians tend to have larger families than those in many other countries. (Note, not large, but larger than the others.)

Third, our average life expectancy is at the higher end of the range, and is expected to keep rising.

Fourth, our old-age dependency ratio – people 65 and older, compared to people of working age, 15 to 64 – is rising, but less quickly than in most other countries.

And our relative youth and higher fertility rate means our dependency ratio is expect to stay lower than other countries’ for the next 25 years or so. Only then is it projected to rise rapidly.

The first intergenerational report expected that the disproportionate bulge of baby boomers reaching normal retirement age would lead to a steady decline in the rate at which people are participating in the labour force.

It hasn’t happened. The reverse, in fact – for fascinating reasons I’ll save for another day.

To economists, this slower rate of population ageing – that is, slower rise in the old-age dependency ratio – is great news. It means the economy’s growth in coming years won’t slow as much as they were expecting (see point above about the participation rate).

It also means ageing will put less pressure on future federal and state budgets. But let me give you a tip: there are so many other pressures we probably won’t notice its absence.


Religion in decline in Australian schools

Australian school students are becoming more likely to identify with “no religion” even in religious schools, including a 68 per cent increase in Catholic schools.

The trend, which mirrors changes in the wider population, has led the peak independent schools body to warn religious schools to rethink their marketing.

Across all schools, 37 per cent of students identify with "no religion", according to an analysis of 2016 census data by the Independent Schools Council of Australia. That's up from 30 per cent in 2011.

At government schools, 45 per cent of students profess to no religion or did not specify a religion in the 2016 census, up from 38 per cent in 2011 and the highest proportion ever recorded.
The number of students describing themselves as having no religion increased 68.2 per cent at Catholic schools.

About 31 per cent of students at independent schools are categorised as having no religion, up from 24 per cent in 2011, and 14 per cent of students at Catholic schools did not have a religion, up from 10 per cent in 2011.

The change reflects a drift to secularism in the wider population. About 30 per cent of people reported “no religion” in the 2016 census, up from 22 per cent five years earlier. The trend is most marked with the younger population, with 39 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 reporting no religion.

Just over one in two Australians of any age identified as Christian, with Catholicism and Anglicanism the two biggest denominations.

"Schools may need to think about the implications of the slow but steady rise of secularism, and the ways this may affect their approach to religious education and how they market their schools," the Independent Schools Council of Australia states in its analysis.

Matt Beard, a fellow at the Ethics Centre, said the rise in non-religious students wouldn't necessarily affect the approach schools take to education.

“If you found out students aren't reading literature, you wouldn't stop teaching novels," Dr Beard said. "But it may provide a catalyst for having a discussion around whether religious education is a critical analysis of faiths and their place in society or teaching the tenets of particular religions."

Social researcher Rebecca Huntley said the Baby Boomers kickstarted the rise in no religion, but also a changed relationship with the church even for those who identify with a religion.

"Children get their religious direction and affiliation from their parents and with each generation since the Baby Boomers we've seen not just a decline in people identifying on census documents as belonging to a particular religion but also a decline in behaviour associated with religion," Dr Huntley said.

"You might put that you're Catholic on the census form but that does not necessarily mean that you go to church every Sunday and do the other things the church might tell you to do."

Dr Huntley added that, anecdotally, she'd observed parents "suddenly declaring for a religion and doing things like baptizing their child to give them more school choice".

The number of students describing themselves as having no religion increased 68 per cent at Catholic schools, 48 per cent at independent schools and 41 per cent at government schools.

The next biggest increase was in students who said they were Christian, with a 59 per cent increase in Catholic schools, a 15 per cent rise in private schools and a 27 per cent rise in government schools.

Students professing to Islam also grew by 19 per cent in Catholic schools, 41 per cent at independent schools and 36 per cent at government schools.

Greg Whitby, executive director of the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, which oversees 80 schools, said the diocese "recognises things are changing" and caters to students with different levels of understanding in faith-based lessons.

"Though Catholic students have enrolment priority, we welcome other community members who wish to join our caring learning communities," Mr Whitby said.

Julie Townsend, headmistress at St Catherine's School Waverley, a private Anglican girls' school, said most of her students did not have a strong religious affiliation and attended the school mainly for its educational facilities, but also benefited from its Christian underpinnings.

"The families who send girls to St Catherine's may not be religious in the home but they're looking to the school to teach them about Christianity and its values of compassion and kindness," Dr Townsend said.


Labour Party turned a blind eye to a would-be queen in its ranks

The immediate reaction at senior ALP levels to Emma Husar agreeing not to recontest her seat at the next election is a huge, collective sigh of relief.

No such public admission is likely, from Bill Shorten down, but Husar had become such a political headache that a quick resolution was needed. The alternative if she had dug her heels in was a continuing stream of damaging allegations about how she treated staff in her electorate office, with more former employees going public with stories of woe.

There were other serious allegations, too — not yet fully fleshed out or investigated — that Husar could have misused her travel entitlements, and campaign funds running to some thousands of dollars could have found their way into a personal bank account.

These are not the message-distracting issues Shorten and his team wanted festering for months in the lead-up to an election that Labor has good prospects of winning.

There were other reasons for wanting the issue of Husar’s alleged staff bullying, and possibly erratic behaviour, to go away. Headline stories were niggling Shorten, day by day, about what he or his office might have known about problems in Husar’s office, and when they knew about them.

Further, if they did know more, why was more decisive action not taken earlier to remedy the situation?

Shorten says he knew nothing of specific allegations until July 18. Maybe so. His critics would say he lives in a cocoon of deniability that includes not just the Husar case but others.

After all, the signs were surely apparent: a first-time backbencher allotted a maximum of four electorate staff churns through a record 22 staff in two years, and nobody at a senior level does anything until perhaps too late?

Lobbying by former staff and their supporters eventually forced an internal party inquiry, not leadership from the top.

The Husar saga is a sad one in many ways. When she was picked as a candidate for a key western Sydney seat, where was the initial party vetting that could have discovered more about her experience and suitability? When problems were first brought to the attention of senior party officials in March last year about the MP’s altercations with staffer Blake Mooney, he was abruptly moved and a troubleshooter, Cameron Sinclair, was briefly inserted in the office to sort things out.

Meanwhile, she was living the dream for a novice politician, befriending Shorten’s wife and becoming part of Shorten’s office clique. No wonder staffers thought their complaints would not be heard when it seemed their boss had a Shorten office fan club.


Paris Agreement To Cost Australia $52 Billion

“Following the emissions reduction requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement will impose significant and irreparable economic damage without delivering an environmental dividend,” said Daniel Wild, Research Fellow at the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

Today the IPA released a research report Why Australia must exit the Paris Climate Agreement. The report estimates that the Paris Climate Agreement emissions targets will impose a $52 billion economic cost, over 2018-2030. This equates to $8,566 per family.

“The immutable law of energy policy is this: lower emissions mean higher prices.”

“Each family in Australia will be at least $8,566 worse off under the Paris Climate Agreement, on average. This is at a time when wages are stagnating and the cost of living is rising.”

“$52 billion could purchase 22 new hospitals or pay for 20 years’ worth of the Gonski 2.0 education funding.”

“For families, $8,566 could be used to pay off credit card debt, pay the school fees for a few years, or pay four years’ worth of electricity bills.”

The report finds the Agreement which Australia signed is much different to how it is currently operating. The United States has exited the Agreement. China is unconstrained by the Agreement. And none of the European Union nations are on track to meet their targets.

“The time to exit the Agreement is now. The government must put lower prices and improved reliability ahead of emissions reductions.”

The report finds that the cost of the Paris Agreement more than twice cancels out the benefits of the government’s tax relief, put forward in the 2018-19 Budget.

“The National Energy Guarantee and the Paris Agreement will lead to higher electricity prices. This will damage business investment, jobs growth, and wages growth, and put upward pressure on everyday goods and services,” said Mr Wild.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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