The Coalition’s Immigration Challenge

aussie burkaIs the long-standing bipartisan consensus in favour of high immigration set to unravel? While led, for now at least, by a ‘Big Australia’ enthusiast, a recent survey suggests that the Liberals might soon have little choice but to abandon their support for mass immigration if they are to avoid electoral wipe-out.

The issue is becoming too pressing to ignore. Australia’s population swelled by a staggering 384,000 in the year to March, 2017, with around 60% of this growth due to immigration. Propelled by the highest per capita immigration intake in the Western world — a migrant arrives on Australian soil every 2 minutes and 21 seconds — the population will surge past 25 million this year. Malcolm Turnbull is routinely lambasted as a do-nothing Prime Minister who has thus far failed to leave a lasting mark, but that is not entirely true: his supercharged immigrant intake is irrevocably transforming Australia in myriad of ways.

Despite a concerted effort by the major parties and the large parts of the media to smother public debate on the topic, Australians are noticing their urban and cultural environments changing rapidly around them. There appears to be a growing worry about the effects of high immigration, as suggested by an Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI) survey of voters last August. The findings: around three-quarters of voters think Australia does not need more people, with significant majorities seeing such hand-over-fist population growth placing ‘a lot of pressure’ on hospitals, roads, public transport, affordable housing and jobs.

As prominent economist Judith Sloan recently observed, the immigration-fuelled population explosion is squeezing the life out of our major cities, with liveability crashing as the new infrastructure projects necessary to accommodate such rapid growth fall further behind. Another economic commentator, Leith van Onselen, has repeatedly warned that our cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, face an “infrastructastophe” due to population crush-loading. Australia, van Onselen has pointed out — not least to Andrew Bolt in the clip below — will need to build the equivalent of a new Melbourne every decade ad infinitum under current immigration levels, a scenario that is “unmanageable, unsustainable and undesirable.” Existing residents are quite rightly asking how Canberra’s plan to add millions more people to our already clogged major cities will do anything other than degrade their quality of life.

The TAPRI survey, led by veteran population experts Dr Katharine Betts and Dr Bob Birrell, also found voter disquiet about the country’s fast-shifting ethnic and cultural makeup. A majority of respondents agreed with the statement that “Australia has changed in recent times beyond recognition – it sometimes feels like a foreign country.” Fifty-five per cent of those  voters surveyed also agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Today, Australia is in danger of losing its culture and identity.”

Some supporters of high immigration invariably scoff at the suggestion of national identity being under threat, arguing the country successfully absorbed previous waves of migrants without losing its essential character and coherence and will be able to do so again. However, with the proportion of the population born overseas the highest it’s been since the colonial era and far more diverse than ever before, Australia is in uncharted waters. The last time the overseas born share of the population was this large, back in the 1800s, new arrivals were almost exclusively Britons moving from one part of the empire to another. It is hubristic folly in the extreme to assume that Australia can admit newcomers from every conceivable background in any given number without the risk of disrupting existing cultural patterns and national bonds.

Australians, it appears, want their government to be more selective when it comes to prospective migrants. Nearly half of voters surveyed by TAPRI supported or strongly supported a full or partial ban on Islamic immigration, including a majority of Liberal voters (54%) and a large minority of Labor voters (38%). In all, 48% supported or strongly supported such a ban, with a further 27% undecided. As Betts and Birrell observe, this result is quite contrary to findings by the pro-open borders Scanlon Foundation, whose reports are regularly adduced by the major parties in support of their high immigration and multicultural policies.

The Scanlon Foundation and others aver that Australians’ economic prosperity means they are more likely to support high immigration and multiculturalism. The argument goes that Australia’s broad material prosperity and optimism makes it different to the United States, the United Kingdom and Western Europe, where growing numbers of native-born “left behinds”, discontent with economic pressures linked to globalisation, have cohered around populist-nationalist immigration-restrictionist politicians and movements.

The findings of the TAPRI survey shoot holes in the claim that relative economic security insulates Australian voters from concerns about immigration and ethnic diversity. Few of those surveyed could be classified as economically insecure or “left behinds.” Yet, half or more of respondents in the TAPRI survey wanted a reduction in immigration and were unhappy about the implications of Australia’s fast expanding ethnic diversity. Those expressing such views were spread across the full spectrum of occupations.

Betts and Birrell note that voter concern about immigration and population has political implications, particularly for the Liberal Party, which is highly vulnerable to challenges from the Right. A majority of current Liberal voters are concerned about immigration levels and ethnic-demographic change in Australia and could switch their support to an alternative promising lower immigration. The Liberal Party can no longer count of its voters to remain forever loyal to the party as trust has collapsed (62 per cent of Liberal voters did not think their politicians were working for them). The resurrected One Nation is already begun tapping into voters’ concerns over Australia’s runaway migrant intake, with the party polling around 14 per cent during the recent Queensland election. Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives has also signalled its opposition to mass immigration and offers another alternative to disaffected Liberal voters.

According to Betts and Birrell:

“The Liberal Party may have little choice but to mount such a campaign because it faces electoral oblivion in 2018 if it does not guard its voter base from challengers from the right. If the Liberals do make such a move, Labor is likely to be a big loser, given that many of its supporters are potentially responsive to such a move.”

Liberal strategists would be wise to take note of the stark divide among Labor voters on the issue of immigration, as revealed in the TAPRI survey. A mere 34% of Labor voters with tertiary educations believe immigration should be reduced, compared with 53%t of non-graduate Labor voters. It is conceivable that a significant number of non-graduate Labor voters could switch their vote to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Australian Conservatives or even the Liberals if these parties were successful in making immigration an election issue.

For the floundering, directionless, faction-riven Turnbull government, immigration presents the circuit-breaking issue it desperately needs in 2018. The Liberals could simultaneously wedge Labor, neutralise the One Nation threat, and abate pressure on living standards and social cohesion by slashing permanent and temporary migrant numbers. In the absence of a policy change, the Coalition will find it increasingly difficult to justify mass immigration in the face of weak wages growth, persistent unemployment and underemployment, chronically unaffordable housing, overloaded infrastructure and services, and mounting ethnic and cultural disruption and tensions.

Needless to say, such a policy shift is unlikely to be proposed by Turnbull, an archetypical globalist with clear preferences for high immigration and multiculturalism. Rather, it will fall upon Coalition MPs worried about their own seats to put pressure on this Prime Minister to change direction. Failure to do so may prove to be ruinous not only for their political careers but the future of the entire nation.

E.R. Drabik is a former regional journalist and research officer to a state politician. He lives in rural Western Australia

11 thoughts on “The Coalition’s Immigration Challenge

  • ianl says:

    The LNP backbenchers will not, repeat not, dump Waffle now. Yes, he’s politically dumb and irrevocably, vomitously narcissistic but as noted previously, he’s sneaky (cancelling Parliament for a week late last year until after Joyce’s by-election was sneaky and snide but it saved them). Politicians *like* sneaky, they admire it, although policy details not so much.

    Bipartisan and leftoid policies on immigration, the intellectually dishonest AGW and all its’ attendant destruction, high taxation levels, successive sabotage of superannuation, obsequiousness to UN goals – all these will remain in place. Compulsory preferential voting absolutely ensures bipartisan policies stay put. Expecting rational policy from Hanson is to step through the looking glass with Alice. Similarly, expecting the MSM to abandon their agenda for objectivity is best discussed at the Mad Hatter Tea Party; almost no-one voluntarily abandons power.

    Elections are merely squabbles over whose turn it is next. The lumpenproles do not matter. Exhorting us to “fight” side-steps the point on *how* to fight effectively. If you think that the politicians, bureaucrats, academics and meeja do not know that the Aus populace is helpless, cannot fight back effectively, then delusion is yours to keep.

    • whitelaughter says:

      A wise cynic asks “who wants me to be cynical? What is in it for them?”

      Your cynicism serves the political class well, which is why they encourage it. The thought of an electorate that would actually rise in fury when lied to would be bedwettingly terrifying for politicians – *if* they thought it would actually happen.

      • ianl says:

        1) Labelling me cynical is just a way of shooting the messenger, avoiding the issue. What are you actually proposing ? Not whitelaughter perhaps, just hollowlaughter ? Or more arm-waving ? That works.

        2) My whole point is that the self-described elites *know* the electorate will not revolt. The “convoy of no consequence” was the most intense we can muster.

        • whitelaughter says:

          They *know*, because you believe it. Merely stopping to believe it is sufficient to panic them. Beyond that?

          – the entire education house of cards will collapse if businesses simply triple the seniority value of employment when under 18; knowing that a university degree will ensure that you spend your entire career being ordered around by those who went into the workforce at 16 will cause the cream of each generation to abandon the degree factories.

          – the major political parties rely on their claim to be the only viable governments: that claim is dying fast. Simply sneering at those who vote for a major party will speed this collapse.

          – sending a straightforward letter to the public service will get you a straightforward form letter. However, if a letter addresses issues from multiple departments, then every concerned department must approve the response to you. Ensuring that multiple departments must respond is a simple method of persuading the system that letting you slip throw the net is worth while – especially if you ensure that a slightly different set of departments is involved with each response (obviously, this only works with matters where the service has discretionary powers).

  • Julian says:

    Excellent article ( I also enjoyed your article on a similar topic from a few months back as well).

    I always found the idea that Australia and Australians were somehow seen to be immune from the (natural) problems of mass immigration and demographic change, now being seen in the UK (Brexit), Europe (Le Pen, et al) and the US (Trump) etc, as slightly laughable.

    Also, the idiotic cheerleading by the economist class of 25+ years of economic growth (largely due to rampant immigration levels) was quite frustrating as well. But, hey, just give people the modern day equivalent of ‘bread and circuses’ (VB and footy), turn the immigration spigot to full and let the good times roll no?

    When Turnbull said ‘Jobs and Growth’ at the last election I knew they had no other alternative plan and threw my hands up in despair.

    One person who did have an alternative plan was Abbott, who a few months back, stated something in the form of cuts to immigration etc(as well as his pro-natal policies as well). This was largely ignored by the MSM.

    Keep up the good work Mr Drabik.

  • en passant says:

    “Liberals might soon have little choice but to abandon their support for mass immigration if they are to avoid electoral wipe-out.”
    It matters not what the il-Liberal’s do now, they will be wiped out at the next election by that Labor/Green drovers dog.

    The economy will tank to Venezuelan levels and the country will default on its debts. Fortunately, a large, rich country not fooled by CAGW, foreign invaders or international opinion is ready to step in for the next 1,000 years to establish stability.

  • Tricone says:

    “Australia’s broad material prosperity and optimism” is trotted out as if it is a constant.

    How short-sighted and shallow in historical learning are these people?

    There are plenty of countries well-endowed with resources wealth that have ended up as the kind of holes allegedly described by President Trump last week.

  • Jody says:

    It was Al Grassby in the Whitless government, who promulgated modern ‘multiculturalism’. The joke in Griffith, from whence he came, was that he had ‘struggled’ to complete the Primary final exams to enter high school. Grassby was not only dumb but incredibly corrupt, yet his advocacy and the consequent radical change in the complexion of Australia through immigration has been allowed continue its exponential growth unchecked because of ideology. In the decades since that decadent Italian menace we’ve seen a growth spurt in the public sector and its attendant ideological wings including, but not limited to, the HRC. All of this well described this last weekend in “The Australian” by Chris Kenny. There’s a fierce (so-called) intellectual determinism now in multiculturalism – so much so that it has become the de rigueur stance of the polity and its agencies, largely dictated by the Left and the UN in a tsunami of self-gratification and virtue signalling.

    Those of us who push against this tidal wave are merely unwilling to do good, churlish and completely without morals. Apparently.

  • brian.doak@bigpond.com says:

    E R Drabik has clearly presented the problem of our massive yearly immigration.It is of course not seen as a problem for our biggest unit builder High-Rise Harry Triguboff. As one of Australia’s richest it is said [ref Dick Smith] that he donates money sparingly to all but the Labor and Liberal parties and to some causes in Israel. Other business enjoy the ‘jobs and growth’ associated with high immigration and their wealth insulates them from the congestion, overcrowding, and cultural identity loss of the multi-culti nation.
    Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen was asked in a radio interview whether he was an advocate for a reduction in the government’s immigration rate and, to no surprise in this listener, said the present settings were about right.
    Unfortunately Cori Bernardi has not spoke with conviction on the matter so only One Nation can compel the Coalition to change on the basis of a preference swap and enter a coalition as Winston Peters has done in New Zealand to reduce immmigration. [Forget Tony Abbott, he has been tried and he failed and will get no second honeymoon from the press]

  • gardner.peter.d says:

    It is hard to understand why any country should deliberately import vast populations who indicate their deep disrespect and rejection of the culture of the land by covering their heads in a distinctive garb. Is it self hatred? Self flagellation? Is it a death wish fuelled by guilt or remorse? Does the country’s government need psychiatric help?

    • Julian says:

      I think there are 2 broad forces:

      The first (and no doubt the principle reason) is immigration-led economic (read: population) growth (brought to you by Right economists, property developers, etc). Now that feminism, post-modernism, urbanisation, birth control etc has reduced the birth rate to under replacement levels, and marginalised the traditional family, we are reliant on immigration for this growth.

      This would be fine if a society were purely an economy and everyone thought in terms of $, profit, etc. However, certain inconvenient facts such as terror attacks by (Islamic) immigrants, bollards and the security state, gang crime, decreased education levels, lack of social cohesion and trust, changes in the streetscape, etc (e.g. areas of Melbourne and Sydney which used to have bookstores, European style cafes and bars etc have now been changed into Asian noodle and rice shops, and made into box-like apartments for mainly Asian students – this is all ‘progress’ and ‘jobs and growth’ according to Mr Doyle, Turnbull, etc – never mind the fact that places like Japan, Eastern Europe etc would never permit such wide-scale societal transformation) are not mentioned.

      And, additionally, when this line of thinking melds with something like Islam, which is more than happy to move to your land, out-breed you, fail to integrate and consciously reject your liberalism and tolerance, than in the long-run it’s political suicide (see European demographic projections, Submission by Houllebecq, Mark Steyn, etc)

      The second broad force is our friends on the multi-cultural, post-modern left who believe that out of the decency of our hearts, past colonialism, ‘white guilt’ (see Pascal Bruckner and Douglas Murray ‘The Tyranny of Guilt’ for more on this), post-modern nihilism and rejection of natural rights, that we should let in as many of the benighted 3rd world as we can (which, in a globe of 7 Billion people, now numbers about 5-6 billion).

      So, yeah, that’s the situation, as I see it. The interesting thing is that this is not a TINA (There is No Alternative) phenomenon, as places like Sth Korea, Japan, Eastern Europe, etc have not gone down this path. It’s a conscious and lazy political decision by a political class who have no real other strategy than keeping the immigration spigot open (e.g. knuckleheads like Keating, etc).

      We live in interesting times.

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