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Canadian & Australia Population,
Immigration Predicament

By Frosty Wooldridge
Tim Murray, http://sinkinglifeboat.blogspot.com or http://biodiversityfirst.googlepages.com, said, "I came upon an orchestration, the environmental movement, and all the musicians were playing violins to the tune of "Overconsumption, overconsumption, overconsumption." They refused to play any other tune or use any other instrument to compliment that narrow repertoire. Apparently some corporate donors were paying them to be a one-trick pony.
The following oped, an oped, an Australian poll on immigration, and an Australia broadcasting corporation interview provide three telling differences between Canada and Australia on the immigration issue. You may inspect the third part below. 
3. A recent ABC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, interview featured representatives from the two sides of the immigration issue. Canadians should take special note because our CBC has given virtually all publicity ­paid for air time on the immigration issue to views of the pro-immigration lobby. 
The following is an excerpt from a recent ABC interview with Mark O'Connor (a writer and co-author of a book titled,Overloading Australia, and a minor party Senate candidate in New South Wales at this election) and Robert Mellor (the managing director of economic housing and immigration forecaster for BIS Shrapnel, which advises business and government). The two participants discuss whether Australia should continue to take large numbers of immigrants and whether Australia should cap its population. 
INTERVIEWER : And what in a nutshell, very briefly, is the economic argument from your perspective for a substantial immigration program like the one you're describing?
ROBERT MELLOR: Well, see the trouble is it is not really an immigration program. It is partly an immigration program because the number of permanent residents coming in can get up to 150,000 - and maybe higher at the peak - but that is not where the big increase in the numbers have come. 
It has come because we have allowed a significant increase in the number of people on long term visas including the 457 visas (Temporary Foreign Workers) to come in through the period when the economy was really booming in 07 into 08. And they came in and they relieved pressure in the labour market.
If they hadn't have come in at that point in time, we would have had significantly greater inflationary pressure in wages and that would have flowed through to even higher interest rates than we had at the time---remembering that we had housing interest rates in the middle of 2008 around 9.5 per cent.
So I think there is an economic argument in terms of our labour requirements given the ageing of the population that we will need more people. And secondly there is a decision we have to make with regard to whether we want an increasing number of students. Because we have probably gone from 200,000 to even 500,000 students in the country at any one point in time in terms of overseas students. So that is a critical export market for us.
INTERVIEWER : Okay. Mark O'Connor, in arguing for serious population limits, including much lower caps on immigration I assume, how do you address the economic concerns that limits to growth will also seriously limit the nation's, and therefore individual, prosperity?
MARK O'CONNOR : That is very much the view from the big end of town that we've just heard. It's quite different from the figures I'm hearing from demographers and certainly from the figures that (Monash University Professor) Bob Birrell was offering in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday. 
You always get this argument, particularly not so much from small business - which often finds that its rents are going up and it's being squeezed in sorts of ways by population growth in much the same way as ordinary people are. 
But when you are the biggest fish in the pool, you just want the pool to be big and you get this argument that we need more labor, that immigration is actually determined by the labor shortage. 
I do not believe that for a moment because there is no labor shortage in Australia. We have 5 per cent unemployment. 
What we have is an unwillingness by many employers the pay the market cost of labour, which in most countries - most other advanced countries - means training people. 
But if you can actually con the Government to bring in skilled laborers ... whenever you say you're short of them, then why would you take an Australian teenager and train them for four weeks or six weeks or six months at your own expense? Or why would you pay them enough that they would then actually find it worth their while to do the training themselves?
It's easy to get somebody who has just been brought into the country who has already got labor experience. It saves perhaps $10,000 per person but it costs the taxpayer an enormous amount.
INTERVIEWER : Robert Mellor, I know you acknowledge the need to manage sustainable growth but why should we have any faith in government's capacity to do that - provide proper infrastructure, proper social planning, proper protection for the environment - when governments have failed so dismally to do precisely that in the past?
ROBERT MELLOR: With respect to the need for overseas workers here, I think the critical thing is to explain to people that we need the infrastructure and then there is an actual commitment to deliver on that infrastructure. 
While there may be a whole range of xenophobic views out there on the immigration issue, I suspect that putting that aside for a certain group of people I think probably the biggest concern is people's worry that their environment's going to change significantly - both at the local level, they don't want the high rise or even the medium density occurring in the backyard. And you know, they are concerned - I think as Mark made the comment in one of his speeches - the fact that the trains might get rid of the seats and we are all standing up on the trains coming from in the outer suburbs.
So they are the sort of things that concern people and I think if government actually took a longer term view and started to address those infrastructure issues and sold the view to our community that rather than spending an hour and a half or two hours in your car or more every day we are actually going to be committed to infrastructure and you are going to be paying more taxes to meet that, then I think there would be less of a debate on the whole immigration issue.
INTERVIEWER : Well I'll come back to the taxes in a moment but Mark O'Connor would you be any more relaxed about the kind of population growth at the top end if the numbers of people were being spread more sensibly around the nation away from the population hotspots that we are seeing now?
MARK O'CONNOR: All advanced nations struggle with infrastructure and there is a simple way of thinking about what the problem is. 
Infrastructure lasts about 50 years, which means that with a stable population - which is what most advanced countries basically have - you have got to replace about 2 per cent of it a year,... a very, very large amount of GDP has to go to it. 
If you have a population growing at 2 per cent a year, then just to stay in place and not have things get worse you have got to spend double the amount on infrastructure - and by a standard economist's rule of thumb that's well explained by Jane O'Sullivan from the University of Queensland - you then have to use about a quarter of all GDP ...(that is) extracted from the taxpayer and put into infrastructure. 
And that ain't possible! That is why none of these places where you have got rapid population growth are actually keeping up with infrastructure despite all the optimistic talk that we hear.
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents "The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it" to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715

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