Thursday, August 08, 2019

Australia's politicians ignoring voters by supporting population growth

At this year’s federal election, there were clear differences in the positions of the two major parties on every significant policy area save immigration on which, except for a few details, they effectively ran a joint ticket.

The Coalition spoke of sending migrants to regional areas; Labor wanted to reduce the number of temporary skilled workers while providing open-slather entry for grandparents. But the parties were in heated agreement in their support for high migrant intakes, both permanent and temporary, and the associated high population growth.

But political support for large-scale immigration does not tally with voters’ views. Support for large migrant intakes has fallen significantly during the past decade. People want immigration cut and slower population growth.

The evidence is in figures collected by Newspoll, Essential Research, the Lowy Poll, the Scanlon Survey and the Australian Population Research Institute. The politicians know what we think. They just act like they don’t.

The lobbying behind immigration is so strong that both parties have concluded the views of ordinary folk can be ignored. These forces include the bureaucracy — check out the Treasury’s reports — big business, property developers, the universities and various interest groups, some ethnically based.

Consider the recent report released by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, the only aim of which is to support unrestricted inflows of temporary migrants. It seeks to dispel the proposition that the surge of temporary migrants has been harmful to Australian workers.

There are about 1.4 million temporary visa holders in Australia. The number of temporary migrants has been growing by about 50,000 a year.

What the authors of the CEDA report desperately, albeit unconvincingly, seek to prove is that the increased competition in the labour market caused by temporary migrants has not affected local workers either in terms of their earnings or employment prospects. But the authors’ methodology doesn’t test this proposition.

Not only are temporary migrants not specifically identified in the study but the critical results are insignificant. The best that can be said is that weekly wages and unemployment of local workers appear unaffected by the migrant intake. It may also be that the causation of the model runs the other way. That is, migrants are attracted to strong labour market conditions rather than cause them.

Another point made by CEDA — that the number of temporary migrants is too small to affect outcomes — is wrong. Adding in New Zealanders, there are about two million temporary migrants in a workforce of about 12.9 million — or 16 per cent of the total. This is a sufficient proportion to significantly affect outcomes. Indeed, the government’s own Migrant Workers’ Taskforce notes that the abundant supply of temporary migrants is one of the reasons they are so widely exploited.

It is obvious why businesses would endorse the CEDA study. They don’t want the free flow of available workers impeded; indeed, the report recommends labour market testing for positions filled by migrants be ditched.

But when thinking about the low wage growth during the past five years, one plausible reason relates to the impact of the migrant intake, particularly temporary visa holders. Most temporary migrants operate in the unskilled or semi-skilled parts of the labour market.

This hypothesis is consistent with the material collected by the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce. Many instances were found of workers being exploited, with the conclusion being that “there is a culture of underpayment in some areas of the economy”.

While the taskforce presented several recommendations for ensuring compliance with Australia’s labour laws, it’s not actually clear how this can be policed. That we should have fewer temporary migrants was not canvassed.

Not not all areas of our immigration program are working well. There are clearly games being played with the partner visas program that are not necessarily in our interests.

According to population researcher Bob Birrell, there were 40,000 partner visas issued in 2017-18, down from 48,000. And there are at least 80,000 in the queue. These figures compare with about 112,000 marriages in Australia each year.

The reason there are so many partner visas is because we allow anyone aged 18 or older, including those who have recently been awarded permanent residence, to sponsor a partner — the most generous arrangement among developed economies.

As Birrell notes: “For the large number wanting a permanent residence visa, the partner visa is an attractive option. There are no onerous English language standards or any need to find an employer … For prospective partners living in low-income countries, an Australian partner visa offers the prospect of a huge lifestyle gain with no entry costs, other than the visa fee.”

It is not uncommon for recent permanent residents to return to their place of birth to select a partner known to their family or community. On Birrell’s figures, at least one-third of partners enter this way. A rising number of former overseas students also receives partner visas.

Partner visas now account for a quarter of the permanent migrant intake and most of the partners head for Sydney or Melbourne. But the government plans no changes.

Politicians will continue to ignore our wishes if they can get away with it. They will oversee an immigration program that is contributing two-thirds of population growth and is associated with lengthening commuting times and loss of urban amenity.

But there is always the possibility that quiet Australians could become noisy on this.


Samoans replace Cowra’s job snobs

Some mornings Peter Brown is so desperate to find workers for his NSW regional abattoir that he’ll drive around town at 6am looking for casual employees.

Mr Brown, the general manager of Cowra Meat Processors, said he advertised for local workers but most didn’t want to do more than two days a week so as to maintain their dole benefits. The company he runs is the biggest employer in Cowra, in the state’s central west, with 180 to 200 workers, but he is constantly under pressure for staff and sometimes works on the floor himself to make up numbers.

“We had a good base of locals, older blokes,” Mr Brown told The Australian. “But over time they got older and retired, and when relying on younger blokes, you can’t fill the jobs for this sort of work.”

For Mr Brown, the answer lies thousands of kilometres away in the South Pacific. He recently brought in his first seven workers from Samoa under the federal government’s Pacific Labour Scheme, in which they can work for three years and are then expected to return with a view to taking their skills with them.

Mr Brown said his seven Samoan men, who earn the same award wages as his Australian employees, were excellent, reliable workers, clean living, God-fearing, and all play rugby union for a local side.

What he and the Samoans can’t understand is why the federal government does not allow them to bring their families here to work, and get permanent residency, to provide a stable workforce and encourage regional economic growth.

One of the Samoans, Harry Ielome, 21, said he loved the work, and loved Cowra. “This is very good money, I feel very happy in the job, and I want to lift up the company,” he said, adding that he would like to stay in Australia “forever”.

The Australian Meat Industry Council has asked for the three-year scheme to be extended to five to help Pacific Islanders achieve permanent residency. Immigration Minister David Coleman would not say whether the government would grant AMIC’s request.


How families are being slugged with higher power bills to fund a $276million project to save koalas and 'increase climate change awareness'

Families will be slugged with higher electricity bills to a fund multi-million dollar climate change project.

The project, introduced by the NSW government, will help save koalas, 'increase public awareness of climate change' and offer pensioners cheap televisions.

Electricity providers Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, as well as Sydney Water will have to fork out $276million to contribute to the fund.

This would allow the companies to force their customers to foot 25 per cent of the cost by increasing their electricity bill. 

More than $3.25billion has been contributed to the fund by electricity companies and their customers since 2007, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The move comes after the Federal Government's Renewable Energy target scheme added about $68.50 more to the average electricity bill in 2018.

Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy and Sydney Water have been ordered to contribute $134million, $86million, $56million and $740,000 respectively.

A whopping $37.5million will go towards a 'Five Million Trees' initiative and $33.6million will fund coastal and floodplain management to prepare for floods.

The fund will give $6.3million to improve five habitats of koalas, while $3.9million will go towards rebates on energy efficient TVs and fridges for pensioners.

The project will also fund bushfire hazard reduction, rooftop solar systems and more efficient street lighting.

An Ausgrid spokeswoman told the publication they don't directly charge customers more for their bill, but that it does contribute to the fund through the company's price changes.

About nine per cent of bills paid by Endeavour Energy customers contributed to the fund.

An Essential Energy spokeswoman said the company collects 'no more or no less' than what is required by law.

A Sydney Water spokesman said the company has not made their customers contribute to the project in 2019-20.

The environment department regulates how companies will help customers recover the charges for the fund.

But NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean did not explain how the department will ensure the charges are actively monitored.

'Over the period of 2017 to 2022, the Climate Change Fund will have an average cost of around $22 per annum for householders, outweighed by savings of around $60 per annum on energy bills,' Mr Kean said.


University funding boost brings hope for new era

A plan to link a small proportion of funding to the performance of universities has been hailed as a breakthrough after a funding freeze.

University chiefs have hailed a promised modest funding boost, based on new performance criteria, as a "starting point" for a new era of growth.

Education Minister Dan Tehan met with university vice-chancellors in Wollongong on Wednesday to discuss a report on performance-based funding.

The report was commissioned in the wake of a $2.2 billion funding freeze initiated by the coalition government in 2017 to help balance the federal budget.

Performance-based funding will begin from 2020 and grow in line with population growth of 18 to 64-year-olds, providing an increase of around $80 million next year.

University performance will be determined by such factors as graduate job outcomes, student success, student experience and participation of indigenous, low socioeconomic status, and regional and remote students.

Review panel chair and University of Wollongong vice-chancellor Paul Wellings said linking a small proportion of funding to the performance of universities was a world-first. "It's a starting point - how do we start to grow the sector again," he told reporters.

"There was a cap put in to try and control the overall spend ... and now we are starting to see a green shoot emerge and a new opportunity for funding."

Mr Tehan hoped to finalise the details of the plan by the end of the month, after a further meeting with university bosses.

Universities were key to improving Australia's productivity and fulfilling the government's promise to create 1.25 million jobs over the next five years, he said. "We are providing over $17 billion to the sector," he said.

"What the model does is universities give up a tiny bit of autonomy where they are not performing and enables government to work with you to lift that performance."

National Union of Students president Desiree Cai said the promised funding was inadequate in light of chronic underfunding of universities.

"At the very least, Minister Tehan needs to restore funding to what it was before the $2.2 billion funding cut introduced in the funding freeze," she said.

The government also needed to step up support for students, including boosting the Youth Allowance and student income support, and tackling job insecurity and underemployment in the workforce.

National Tertiary Education Union president Dr Alison Barnes said there could be many unintended consequences from the performance-based criteria.

"If the 'job outcome' is not linked to the learning, we may see the perverse outcome of many more lawyers being qualified, but working in fast food outlets," she said.

As well, staff could come under pressure to improve student pass rates in a bid to reduce the number of dropouts.


 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

1 comment:

Paul said...

"but most didn’t want to do more than two days a week so as to maintain their dole benefits"

And yet, they demand that we increase their dole, because muh suffering??