Apples, Oranges and Immigration

enochThat estimable publication, The New Criterion, features in its current (May 2018) edition a piece from Enoch Powell’s biographer, Simon Heffer, on the (in)famous “Rivers of Blood” speech, fifty years on.  Yes, it is another “fifty years on” event to go with all the others from that momentous and significant year, 1968.

Enoch Powell had a long and highly distinguished career.  It included a professorial appointment in classics at the age of twenty-five at Sydney University – an ironic historic footnote, given that institution’s almost total conversion to oily political correctness – plus many more accomplishments in the military and in politics.  Yet, despite his manifest achievements, he is pretty much remembered for one thing only, that speech.

Powell has been variously considered principled, racist, foolhardy, prescient, and a lot more besides for his call to limit immigration his call inspired at the time by what he saw as mounting evidence of rising conflict resulting directly from the importing of other cultures to the UK.  Little did Powell realise what would transpire in the early twenty-first century, an era described by Douglas Murray as an age of suicide by European governments seemingly hell bent on inviting immolation at the bloody altar of multiculturalism.  What was a mere trickle from Commonwealth countries in the 1960s, leading to real but probably exaggerated racial disquiet, has become a deluge, a veritable invasion, especially of Muslims. They come armed with the mores of their troubled homelands and a culture endorsed in its presumed superiority by holy texts that, just for good measure, treat women and their human rights with a propertarian disregard for the conventions of the society they have entered and changed but never joined.

Back in Australia, in locations such as the increasingly lawless outer Melbourne, we see violence by out-of-control imported African gangs and the insipid responses of major parties and the politically correct Victoria Police, whose brass insist in one breath there is no gang problem and in the next admit there is. Then tghey deny it again. These same police, by the way, have been seemingly more devoted to investigating a senior Catholic cleric before any actual complaints were been lodged, then finding drug addicts, bash artists and main-chancers to validate them. That at least makes a change from shaking down motorists by serving as revenue agents and charging visiting speakers five-figure sums to protect them from rampaging leftist mobs.

This is the same Australia that tut-tutted at John Howard in 1988 when he suggested, very gently, from the Opposition benches, that a slow-down in the rate of then-rising (and now galloping) Asian immigration would be a good idea.  Like Powell, and very recently Tony Abbott, Howard was merely listening to what his constituents were saying.  And like the other two, Howard did not believe those constituents to be racist.

Each age has its “difficult” immigrants, it seems.  What is different now is that, since the exponential rise in global people movements from around 1990 that was fuelled by globalisation policies seeking to impose a truly borderless world, we have now almost unrecognisable, discombobulated places whose lonng-term inhabitants’ heads are spinning. We have tribal enclaves where interactions with native inhabitants are minimal and non-collaborative. Try getting a beer these days in Lakemba now that the last pub has closed its doors. Understandably, we see an exodus of former residents who don’t know what has happened to their communities or why.  We have increasing violence, emergent gang culture, lawlessness and an arrogance on the part of the newcomers, which is understandable. When the official doctrine of the state holds that all cultures are equal and, sillier even than that, how the ills of the world are a legacy of racist white colonialism, why make an effort to assimilate? Indeed, stick your daughter in a burka and do so with pride. Western feminists won’t utter a peep of protest and, if there is criticism, dash off a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

So what is the response to all this, and what should tolerant, liberal people who live in a country built on immigration regard as an appropriate annual number and trajectory?  In one sense, there is simply too much in play in the current debates over the appropriate level of immigration, with things getting badly mixed up as a result.  Here think of jumbled conversations and mistaken analyses of cause and effect.  Finally, there is the question of whether limiting the rate of increase of immigration now would have an impact on the problems we already have, problems that are possibly the result, at least in part, of our previous high immigration policies.

Some preliminary points are needed.

One, there is not much in principle wrong with the notion of a “big Australia”.  Many of the objections completely miss the point, especially those of Bob Carr and Paul Ehrlich-types who think all populations should be cut.

Two, there is no “magic” number of immigrants.  All numbers are relative to some other variable, such as available work, skills shortages and needs, general prevailing economic conditions, current birth and death rates, and so on.  The current “right” number of immigrants is only right in relation to these other things.

Three, the impact of immigration on our economy is positive, but only marginally so.  The problems are non-economic.  Yes, there is still “they took our jobs” thinking among existing residents.  But in a world of increasingly rapid changing skills and skills-matching-needs (due to globalisation, technology, outsourcing, offshoring, hyper-mobility, ease of moving, disruption and so on), this argument has lost a lot of force.

Four, neither is there a magic number for an Australian population of the “right” size.  We are the world’s fourteenth-biggest economy and could easily do with more growth.  Yes, we are limited by governments that either can’t or won’t build the infrastructure we need in the places we need it, and who prefer vanity projects of little economic or social consequence.  There is indeed a correlation between the adequacy of infrastructure, the perception of the adequacy of infrastructure by residents, and fear of further pressure on infrastructure by future population increases.  And yes, it is important that we maintain support for our immigration policies.

But, and it is a big but.  Cutting immigration numbers in the future will not solve existing infrastructure problems.  At whatever level of immigration we have, we will be required to build adequate housing and transport systems.  Much better to fix the systemic problems we have now – vertical fiscal imbalance, debauched federalism, out-of-control spending on things like transfer payments, the ABC, subsidised child care, useless education pipedreams, unaffordable NDISs, trams in George Street, regional vanity projects (and so on), that stop governments focusing on better infrastructure, one of their core tasks.

Five, law and order problems are law and order problems, not size-of-immigration-intake problems.  Kick out the troublemakers?  Too easy.  Limiting in-migration now is too late, and will not solve the problems.  Get genuine police forces, not touchy feely community strokers.  Limiting future immigration intakes, absent fixing the other problems we have right here right now, simply will not help.

Six, if we bleat endlessly about multiculturalism, we should insist that new arrivals should try it sometime!  It goes both ways, folks.

Seven, who comes is way more important than how many, the migrant mix being important beyond other things, such as the size of the intake. Bring in people who can speak the language or are eager to learn it, are ready to work or invest, who don’t come from troubled places where local mayhem has driven their decision to leave.  Immigrants used to be regarded as the ultimate entrepreneurs.  Now many seem to be the ultimate welfare scroungers at best and troublemakers at worst. Spend 30 minutes in your local Centrelink and observe the ethnic mix of what, in this era of euphemism, are known as “clients” rather than mendicants. On this view, we could keep the current rate but radically change the mix.

So, solutions.

We should not mix up immigration issues with other matters that look like they are related but are not.  We should do law and order properly.  We should ditch multiculti fantasies and rediscover the real assimilation that was expected during the great post-war migration boom.  We should ditch all welfare for immigrants.  We should build proper infrastructure for a growing population.  We should not ditch our long-term goal of growing bigger, but we should just do it smarter, for example by subsidising natural increase.  The much-sniggered-at baby bonus was a cracker policy that actually worked. We should ensure visa scams are upended (we all know what they are and who is involved).  We should attempt more seriously to stop foreign nationals buying up the country, its real estate and its infrastructure.  We should all speak English routinely in the public square.

We do need to make Australia great again.  We need to make it Australia again, actually., and we can do that while continuing to grow.

By all means let us have our immigration numbers debate.  But do it with Howard and Enoch Powell in mind, and the actual problems they saw and commented on.  And let us do it with our eyes open by aligning the many problems we have as a nation with the best policy and cultural solutions available for these problems.  We should not burden immigration policy with the task of solving things for which it is not equipped.

What the Rivers of Blood speech did some half a century ago was to alert us to immigration follies and to what should be the proper limits of an out-of-control concept Powell did not at that time know about: globalism. Powell’s speech still deserves our attention, indeed commands it.  But let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  Population growth is good, indeed essential, and immigration will play its proper part in that and we need to get it right. But it is about way more than mere numbers.

10 thoughts on “Apples, Oranges and Immigration

  • whitelaughter says:

    We went with large immigration after WWII because we realised we could grab the best while everyone else was faffing around – a shrewd move. But the flip side is, once we’ve got the best, why continue?

    Immigration should be linked to finding new ways to select the cream. Frex the Lib Dems want to sell the right to come here, with the money being used to pay off the debt; not bad. I’d tweak that though to have them pay for Israeli military equipment for out troops: Islamofascists, Marxists, Neonazis, and trendy metrosexuals would all refuse, improving immigrant quality immensely.

    • Reech says:

      That Australia ‘grabbed the best’ refugees after WWII is debatable.

      The distinguished polymath, Sir Walter Crocker, noted in his diary (16 July 1953):

      ‘It is incredible and depressing that Australia goes on year after year taking in these dregs, to add to its own formidable native body of dregs … I tried to raise my voice, in public as well as in private, but to no effect. Such is the ignorance and the provincialism. The whole of this post-war immigration policy, panicky and designed against Asia, has been done by local politicians for local politicians, without study and without knowledge. There is still no research section in the Immigration Department.’

      The comments followed an interview in which the Polish Ambassador intimated tactfully that Australia was getting ‘the sweepings’ of the IRO refugee camps.

  • Julian says:

    I agree with most of that.

    However, a few things…..

    1) Mindless population-led economic growth seems a lazy and unimaginative economic policy

    2) Immigration and immigrants from where? Are we to believe the fiction that, say, a place like Denmark would easily assimilate and integrate Hondurans, Bangladeshis and Koreans as they would, say, the Dutch or the Norwegians?

    3) What value social cohesion, trust and unity? E.g. the ‘Bowling Alone’ thesis by Robert Putman which is, basically, the more ethnic diversity you have in a society the less social cohesion and trust you have (e.g. no kids walking to school, volunteering etc).

    4) Professionalism and skilled migration above all other qualities and considerations? e.g. A skilled, say, Chinese surgeon may be a good addition to the medical fraternity, but I doubt he’ll join the local cricket or footy team, attend the local church, volunteer, make small talk with you at the local cafe, etc. Wouldn’t it be better to train and employ people here?

    5) What’s the long-term vision? What does Australia look like circa 2050? 2100? (What Europe will look like seems scarier by the day)

    I just note that the Japanese, for one, seem to be relatively prosperous, cohesive, and suffer little crime without mass immigration (and their population is declining as well.)

    In my opinion, the above VALUES and CULTURAL questions (NOT ECONOMICS) are the ones people are worrying about (and are the reason people are politically disenchanted) and all Turnbull etc are doing is trying to bribe or distract us via things like a $10 tax cut. (Mal, you can keep your $10 buddy, just don’t destroy society in the meantime.)

    Essentially, as the article noted, we’ve had 50 or so years of failed policies r.e. immigration and multiculturalism and we’re now paying the very high price for such things.

  • lloveday says:

    Quote: “The much-sniggered-at baby bonus was a cracker policy that actually worked”.

    It worked in that it resulted in more babies, but that is far from the only test (given the writer’s tick of approval was based it being a “smarter” way of “growing bigger”), nor in my opinion the most important – how those children develop, what sort of adults they become and how they contribute to society being far more important than whether they were born in-country or “imported”.

    No rational person disputes that Stephen Hawking’s son was more likely to be a genius in a top job with Microsoft than was Joe Frazier’s son, nor that Frazier’s son was more likely to be a heavyweight boxer who fought Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson than Hawking’s- no matter what the Left says, genes matter. A lot. Both those offspring made valuable contributions in very different ways – Mavis Frazier not only through the economic activity generated by his boxing, but after retirement he became an ordained minister and active participant in Prison Fellowship Ministries.

    But what about the “baby bonus kids”? I doubt research has been done (PC would not allow funding or publication of figures if available?), but limited empirical knowledge and common sense suggests to me that they would, on average, be much more likely to end up “below average”, in a disproportional number of cases a negative to society.

    With freely available birth control, abortion on demand, and good job opportunities with high wages, smarter women are generally having fewer babies and later, if at all, and the baby bonus is unlikely to figure much, if at all, in their decisions to breed. So it was likely to be less smart, less educated women in unstable, violent or no permanent relationships, who were encouraged by baby bonuses (and abundant welfare and a social status far higher than the unwed mothers of yore) to make babies, so often fathered by men of similar character. A druggie on the dole could screw Joe Blow, become pregnant, pop out a sprog and pick up the $5,000, get the higher welfare rate as a single mother, maybe get Child Support, not have to look for work…. (heck she could even have a taxpayer funded full-term, partial-birth abortion and get the $5k). Such babies would disproportionately be raised in circumstances likely to result in poor economic and social contributions as adults.

    Meanwhile the smarter men are generally avoiding having children by use of birth control and avoiding marriage – most of the youngish men I know are so aware of the FCA/CSA axis of evil that they are reticent to have children knowing the high likelihood of them “losing” them along with most of their assets and a good part of their income because of unilateral decisions and actions of the mother. And again they are unlikely to be influenced by the $5k bait.

    • Jody says:

      Got to agree with most of this. The FCA is a national scandal which no politician is willing to reform – same as their unwillingness with the ABC. But with a one seat majority we cannot expect miracles. My son calls the FCA “a temple of lies” and I replied “not so much a temple”.

  • lloveday says:

    “..based on it….”

    • padraic says:

      Agree with your all your comments LBL, re the baby bonus – an accurate description of what is happening in the community. It’s too hard to get rid of because the druggie vote has become a significant force in voter land and our nation is on its way to go down the gutter because no one is tackling drug abuse with effective policies, only encouraging its expansion via “harm minimization”.

  • gcheyne@bigpond.net.au says:

    So, solutions?
    Stop electing the Village Idiot to Parliament, for a start.
    We have an abundance of unused energy: oil, gas and nuclear, lying in the ground bet nobody is allowed to touch it. Why not?
    We have abundant water, albeit not where we really need it. With all that abundant energy, why not pump it there and use it? We can build pipelines for oil and gas, so why not water?
    We are billions in debt, yet still give foreign aid away. To Indonesia, for example, who have just bought half a dozen attack helicopters. Charity begins at home, remember?
    And when we can eventually afford it, any foreign aid should be aimed at helping people to help themselves: say family planning for a start.
    Get out of the silly Paris climate change arrangement: oh yes: get out of the useless UN while you’re at it.
    Immigration: why import people who hate us and our way of life? Adherents of evil doctrines who would do us harm are no use to us. At least we know that South African farmers would make a go of things. Those with the same values that we embrace are more likely to fit in here.

  • brian.doak@bigpond.com says:

    Rudd, Abbott/Turnbull doubled immigration because the increased GDP gave them easy tax money, and GST and Stamp Duty money to the states.
    They collude to sell our birthright for porridge not realising that the increased funding and jobs only cover the cost of services to the immigrants. Our massive immigration is a Ponzi scheme.

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