Immigration and common sense: The real facts about Australia

August 20, 2018 by Professor Bill Rubinstein
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In common with the majority of people, I never heard of Senator Fraser Anning before he made his controversial speech on immigration…writes Bill Rubinstein.

Professor Bill Rubinstein

I know nothing whatever of his background or his views on any other issue. It goes without saying that his proposal for a referendum on Muslim immigration is unethical and politically impossible, while his use of the term “final solution” appears to be due to sheer ignorance rather than to malice or antisemitism.

     However  ̶ and attracting little or no publicity in the media  ̶  many of the points he made in his speech are quite pertinent, and highly relevant to the Australian Jewish community.  His central points were that rates of immigration to Australia are unsustainably high and ought to be reduced, and that the actual figure for net immigration greatly understates the actual volume of immigration and foreign residency here.  On both points he is absolutely correct.  Visas granted to immigrants numbered 190,000 in 2012-13 and have been cut to 165,000 in 2017-18.  Although there has indeed been a welcome drop in immigrant numbers, in relative terms our rates of immigration are still among the highest in the developed world. The United States has a total population thirteen times larger than Australia’s, but admits only 1.1 million legal immigrants each year, and 58,000 refugees (compared with 17,000 by us).  If Australia admitted immigrants at the same rate as America, it would allow only about 85,000 to migrate here annually, a figure one-half the size of our actual intake, and far more sustainable.

But limiting the discussion to legal immigrants grossly distorts and understates the actual situation.  In September 2017 there were actually 2,072,000 “temporary” migrants here, of whom 160,00 were here on “bridging visas” and no less that 513,000 were here on student visas, up from 342,000 in 2012. The total number of “temporary” visa holders increased by no fewer than 382,000 in the period since 2012. Many of these “temporary” visa holders are far from temporary, especially among students.  According to many reports, thousands of university students do not return to their home country, but disappear into the limbo of the lost, and, when found, make endless formal  appeals to the government to stay on, something which the government does little or nothing to combat.  Government statistics show that there are at least 62,000 deliberate over-stayers here, a number  ̶ almost certainly an understatement  ̶ which has increased by 20 per cent since 2013.

While a limited and controlled level of immigration is arguably good for Australia, a vast and uncontrolled volume is plainly and obviously bad. It is the driving force of the unaffordability of housing for tens of thousands of young people who are desperately trying to buy their own homes, and also plainly pushes up the cost of renting. The vast number of overseas students here have to live somewhere, invariably driving up housing costs. This affects everyone, but it arguably has particularly bad effects on the Jewish community, whose disposable incomes, after paying for their mortgage or rent, will simply not bear the costs of Jewish day schools, synagogue membership, or donating to Jewish charities. These costs have driven hundreds of young Jews outside of the main Jewish neighbourhoods, where most of the existing synagogues are located. The highly negative effects of uncontrolled population growth on every aspect of the infrastructure and environment, from roads and public transport to hospitals and state schools, are self-evident, although apparently not to our politicians.

The second point made by Fraser Anning concerns the number of Muslims in Australia.  Many readers will be unaware that the 2016 Census found that there were 604,000 Muslims in Australia, five times the number of Jews.  The vast increase in Muslim is quite new: as recently as the 1970s there were more Jews here than Muslims.  Of course, most Muslims are simply minding their own business, and Turkish Muslims have lived peacefully here since the 1960s. But Anning was also quite accurate to say that while all Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists in today’s world are Muslims, a fact for which there is good evidence.  Even beyond the questions of terrorism or Islamic antisemitism, it is surely a certainty that politicians here are more likely to listen and take heed of the views on the Middle East of a community five times larger than the Jewish community, and with five times the number of voters.  Muslims have a perfect right to lobby against Israel, and will surely do so with good effect when they have developed the political skills. The Jewish community in my view can have no possible interest in increasing still further the number of Muslims in Australia, especially those from radical or jihadist backgrounds.

None of the major parties appears to be interested in cutting immigration beyond its current unsustainable levels, and millions of voters regard themselves as unrepresented on this issue.  It seems strange that the Green Party does not advocate stringent cuts to immigration in order to safeguard the environment, but for them political correctness clearly trumps ecology.  If the Coalition loses the next election, due next year  ̶  as now appears more than likely  ̶  its total failure to rein in uncontrolled immigration will surely be one of the major reasons for its election loss, and deservedly so.

(Bill Rubinstein taught at Deakin University and at the University of Wales.)


One Response to “Immigration and common sense: The real facts about Australia”
  1. Gary Luke says:

    Search for the word “solution” in Annings whole speech.

    He poses a few national problems, then lists a few solutions. “My first solution” is the irrigation scheme proposed by Bradfield in the 1930s. A solution for transport infrastructure for our international mining trade involves more ports. And the final solution on his list of solutions is a plebiscite to determine imigration policy. It’s a “final solution” on a list with a first and a last item. What’s the reason for such a big fuss.

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