Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Immigration forcing down standards?

What are some of the consequences of Prime Minister Rudd pushing immigration to record levels?

Well, pity the first home buyer. According to the ANZ bank, housing prices are set to soar again due to pent up demand:

The ANZ's senior economist, Paul Braddick, said yesterday that Australia faced a critical and potentially chronic shortage of housing.

"A growing housing shortage is setting the scene for the mother of all housing booms," Mr Braddick said.

"Demand has accelerated and rising immigration, both permanent and temporary, shows no sign of abating".

There will be cultural changes as a result of this. Parents and grandparents will have to play more of a role in purchasing housing for younger people, as happens in some Asian countries with high property prices. It will be more difficult for young people to establish financial independence early in life; it will also be more difficult for women to choose to devote a part of their life to raising young children at home.

We're also more likely to get low quality housing options:

A radical plan to solve Victoria's affordability crisis by putting shipping containers in caravan parks has infuriated social welfare groups.

Macroplan Australia managing director and prominent urban planner Brian Haratsis said shipping containers could be located on public land or in caravan parks ...

"There will be a lot of talk about trailer trash, but people don't seem to understand there are others who simply can't afford accommodation ..."

This follows on from earlier news about overseas students being crammed into Melbourne share houses. In one case a Nepalese landlord stacked 48 overseas students into a single Melbourne home:

A millionaire landlord has been stacking up to 48 Nepalese students in a single house in northern Melbourne and dozens in two other rundown properties, say council investigators.

In today's Age, writer Lea McInerney describes the difficulty of finding a flat to rent:

Constant, fruitless searching in this high-pressure rental market is crazing me ... I behave obsequiously toward agents ... They get to decide how long my life stays on hold. One day I'm sitting in a park, feeling glum ... A friend rings and I burst into tears, not sure I can go on ... The lowest number of people I count inspecting a flat was 11; at the busiest one, a quirky two-storey place, I stopped counting at 60 ... One agent I came across, from the kindly camp, said: "Don't take it personally; it's a nightmare for everyone."


  1. That's why I abandoned Australia. I could see lowering of living Standards. Unlike my parents who had the quarter acre block that "RIGHT of being an Australian" has become history. Now the government through their insane immigration policy over the last 35 years created a situation where you expect to live in a dog box and be happy about it. Its ok if you are rich or an ethnic person who lives with your parents until you are married. If you are an aussie you will battle.

  2. If the process is gradual enough we will remain compliant and not look beyond the ends of our noses for the political and cultural sources of such problems. "It's just how our country is nowadays". If things become unlivable then even more intrusive and expansive state control will be the only perceivable solution for many citizens. Liberalism always leads downstream.

  3. leadpb, you're right that the lowering of standards won't lead automatically to a rejection of liberalism.

    At my workplace, there are a few left-wingers who have been put in a difficult situation. The disruption to family formation has left them single and they have little chance of breaking out of the rental market.

    I was interested to hear one of them state that immigration would keep house prices rising despite higher interest rates and that this would continue to price him out of the market.

    However, despite their unhappiness with their personal situation, I can't see them breaking with liberalism: they have too much fallen into the idea that liberal politics defines them as morally good and socially advanced people.

    There has to be a political alternative for young people to identify with, before they harden into an identification with liberalism, for things to change.

  4. Mark,

    You say "...they have too much fallen into the idea that liberal politics defines them as morally good and socially advanced people." Yes. This mindset, en masse, forms a sturdy facade that renders critical thinking or reasoning-- or criticism-- nearly useless. Now to get on with personalized individuation and the multicultural vibe. How can you not dig that, man?

    Of course the problem with any hegemony is that the dominant party ends up becoming complacent and stale. We (US) are somewhere in that process now. Sometimes it seems strange and even sad to think that in the beginning convulsions of modern liberalism, say the 1960s and even into the 1970s, there was a genuinely creative and exciting energy about the new and the possible. How quickly we have converted the results into onerous dogma.

  5. As to your last paragraph, I see this coming from resilient groups within society, political and otherwise, rather than the official political arena (horse before cart, etc.).

  6. I see this coming from resilient groups within society, political and otherwise, rather than the official political arena

    I agree.

  7. To Anonymous,

    Where did you abandon Australia for?

  8. Dear Mark,

    You raise very interesting points.

    My admittedly brief scan of the announcements embedded in budget week that immigration would be lifted to near record post-war levels were that the justification was on the basis of plugging skills shortages in the Australian economy.

    I am involved in the mining industry and am acutely aware of those skills shortages both now and what are likely to be persistent shortages as the baby boomers march into retirement. The demographic roller coaster is a whole argument in itself.

    I understand that even in regional mining service areas like Port Headland, Mackay and Moranbah ( for example ) house prices are being bid up rapidly as demand outpaces supply.

    Thus even Blind Freddy could also see that accelerating immigration while the state and territory governments continue to drop the ball on expansion of housing and infrastructure could only be inflationary ie demand massively exceeding supply.

    And thus push up the price of housing and other services, fuelling inflation and doubtless placing the Reserve Bank in the position of having to ratchet up interest rates even further with accompanying pain for all borrowers and people living on slim financial margins.

    So where was the fearless Treasury advice and analysis on all this that we were promised would be the hallmark of the new government? Where was the dire warnings that there will be no gain ( more skilled workers ) without more pain ( inflation ) ? If I can figure it out, it should be a doddle for Ken Henry and his team.

    So we are left with these questions:

    Are the Feds pumping people into the economy to increase the pressure on their state and territory comrades to snap out of their torpor and actually do something about building up infrastructure ?

    Are they pumping people into the economy to so embarrass the hollow men and women of the state and territory governments that the Feds will seize the opportunity to take more direct control of infrastructure and development nationally as the calls for relief from the Working Families escalate ? ( Personally, I am a lousy conservative because I would consign the state and territory governments to the wastebasket of history tomorrow – but preferably by a democratic process, not stealth rewriting of the Constitution ).

    Are the Feds just trying to apply at national level that exquisite level of torture developed in NSW, for example, where you keep the voters in a fine level of misery such that they are constantly turning to the Labor governments to provide populist solutions to bail them out of the misery those same governments have inflicted on them in the first place ?

    Or are the Feds just not conscious of what is happening in those mortgage belt suburbs that delivered them government AND ignoring fearless and impartial public service advice ??

    I don’t really believe the new Feds are that dumb, so by a process of deduction I will vote with you and leadpb that this appears to be part of a deliberate strategy to increase the overall misery level, especially in the marginals and for ‘Working Families’, such that they will increasingly accept Big Bruvver permanently managing everything for ever if it eases the immediate crises. A death-of-a thousand cuts coup-d’├ętat if you like.

    And supporting opinion from one who recognises the animal for what it is ? How about Mark Latham in the AFR of 12 June 2008

    “..Rudd’s approach as PM would be that of a bureaucrat, a centralist and a consummate networker……..He has set himself a goal of wiping the Tories off the electoral map at the next poll”.

    The ascendant political class is looking to cement itself in power for a generation at least by whatever means. We are possibly heading into deep and turbulent waters here.

  9. Rudd is just doing the Tony Blair-George Bush formula for pumping up the economy. Mass immigration = cheap labor subsidized by modern welfare states = low inflation + huge real estate bubble. The sheeple are too happy with their rising property values and cheap food, services and goods to notice they are losing their country due to mass immigration and that the bill for the welfare state has ballooned to unbelievable levels. By 2010, Blair-Brown will have gotten 13 years out of it and Bush got eight. Can't say your boy Rudd is a dummy -- he learned from the masters. Unfortunately your property/debt bubble will burst just as in the UK and the US.