Politics

Take It From The Experts: Immigrants Aren’t Clogging Up Your Highways

Surprise! ScoMo, Dutton and Abbott are incredibly wrong.

Scott Morrison's response to the UN report on climate change is embarrassing.

So it looks like Scott Morrison has decided that the next election should be fought over immigration — specifically, whether immigrants are the reason you’re stuck in a traffic jam or your train is packed on your way to work every morning.

Yes, that’s actually the argument the government is running — that we need to cut Australia’s immigration intake so that our infrastructure can catch up.

Yesterday, when Morrison flagged cutting Australia’s migrant intake by around 30,000 a year (that’s a drop of around 15 percent), he said Australians are screaming out for relief from the immigrant horde: “They are saying: enough, enough, enough. The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton echoed that argument. “We want people out of cars and spending more time with their families and doing things they want,” he told radio station 2gb.

And Tony Abbott has been making the same argument for months, saying that we need to slow down immigration until infrastructure has caught up.

The thing is, it’s all total bullshit. Instead of just relying on vague feelings about brown people clogging up train carriages, Junkee spoke to a heap of actual experts on immigration and demographics, and they all said the same thing: If you’re sick of peak hour traffic, blame the government, not immigrants.

What The Experts Say About Immigration

Don’t Blame Immigrants, Blame The Government

“The notion that immigration is the reason Australia’s infrastructure is failing is nonsensical,” said Dr Liz Allen, demographer and social researcher at the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. “Population merely highlights policy and funding failures.”

“Population, in particular immigration, is being blamed for successive government failures across all levels of government. Rather than admit to this, the Australian and state and territory governments problematise the very thing keeping the country economically afloat.”

Economist at the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, Alison Pennington, agrees.

“The Coalition has been underinvesting in infrastructure since it formed government in 2013,” she told Junkee. “Public infrastructure spending rose consistently from 2000 to 2012, declined after 2013, and still hasn’t recovered to its pre-Coalition peak. Infrastructure projects take time to complete and typically there is at least a 5-year lag to completion. If there is pressure on our cities’ infrastructure, then we are feeling the effects of government inaction on infrastructure spending in 2013-15.”

Thinly Veiled Racism

Alana Lentin, Associate Professor of Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University, said the government’s arguments are actually just straight-up racist:

“It is this government and, more generally the white Australian settler colonial state, going back to the White Australia Policy, which has fabricated the notion that immigration creates a drain on society’s resources,” she said.

“This is predicated on the idea that these resources are only properly for white people because we must not forget that Aboriginal people — the traditional owners of the land — are also construed as a drain on public resources. The government does not wish to build the necessary infrastructure prioritising spending money on such things as detention centres for asylum seekers which costs the taxpayers billions of dollars each year.”

“The government concedes that many of the current temporary migrants will become permanent migrants thus revealing that the problem is not with immigration per se, but with people who, despite living in the country and paying taxes etc., are still seen as ‘less than’ members of the dominant culture. In this sense the ‘debate’ about immigration is cut through with racism. The only people whose view I would be interested in hearing about immigration numbers are Aboriginal people.”

Fuck Off, We’re Not Full

Andrew Bartlett was a Democrats Senator and spokesperson for immigration for a decade. He’s also a former Greens Senator and was an academic with the Migration Law Program at ANU, so he knows his stuff.

“It is widely recognised that Australia has one of the highest proportion of migrants as part of our population of any country in the world. For a country of migrants to develop a ‘migration is bad’ mindset would cognitive dissonance on a grand scale,” he told Junkee.

“Anything which makes the potential migration pathway harder for people, including ever-growing waiting times (often with associated costs) for processing, decisions and issuing of visas will make more and more potential migrants look elsewhere. This could well please Hansonite and others in the “fuck off, we’re full” brigade, but it will harm Australia’s economy, the adequacy of our social services, our diversity and our future.”

But Why Not Just Ask Scott Morrison Himself?

Before he was a Prime Minister desperately trying to win an election, Scott Morrison was the Treasurer desperately trying to get the economy back into surplus.

Back then, when people like Dutton and Abbott were calling for immigration to be cut, Scott Morrison thought it was a terrible idea.

“If you cut the level of permanent immigration to Australia by 80,000, that would cost the budget, that would hit the bottom line, the deficit, by $4bn to $5bn over the next four years,” Morrison said back in February.

“If you did what Tony Abbott suggests, then you would only reduce the proportion that was skilled migration and you’d have a bigger proportion which was family migration – which ultimately gets more dependent on welfare. People who come as skilled migrants pay taxes. They make a net contribution to the economy.”

So there ya go, if you don’t believe all those experts above, just listen to Scott Morrison himself.