4.9 Interesting Times Ahead

There is one law that seems to perfectly explain the logic behind the present immigration policy, and that is the Second Law of thermodynamics, which states that all order will degenerate into a state of disorder - with the generation of a lot of heat.

To a dispassionate observer it would appear that forces of economic pragmatism have won the day and the migrant has become the scapegoat, yet again, for any ills and maladies that are affecting the nation at the moment.

The Great Migration Debate has achieved the status of the Great Train Robbery. Television channels eagerly seeks the views of such unbiased experts like Bruce Ruxton on topics varying from macroeconomics to sex in foxholes. Pension schemes that have been acceptable for decades are now considered dangerous to the health of the nation. Over-population, salination problems, visions of sand-dunes burying our coastline cities - these and other doomsday predictions are, we are told, directly related to the Australian migration policy.

The truth of the matter is that there is an abundance of muddled thinking involving anything to do with the ethnic community, combined with a dearth of objective factual information.

Take for example the calculation of optimal population growth in Australia. The suggested optimal annual intake of migrants varies from 0 to 500,000 per annum depending on one's particular whim and interpretation. There are those who would say that any increase would be detrimental to Australia's infrastructure and hence the long term viability. The optimal total population is perhaps eight million according to some, who base their arguments on green and, one would suspect, naive thinking. The logic that people harm nature leads to a nihilistic scenario and a depopulated country. It must be realised that zero population growth invariably means reduced economic growth, and those that are so glib to accept the former proposition must be prepared to accept the latter also.

Another type of woolly thinking coming from the likes of G. Blainey relates to the economics of migrant intake. They would say that the 'large number of today's migrants contribute nothing to the nation' (The Weekend Australian, June 1990).

The study from the Centre for International Economics on Immigration and Economic Management concludes that a reduction of 20,000 in migrant intake would lead to:

  • A deterioration in the current account deficit of more than $700 million;
  • A reduction in real GDP of between 0.11 percent and 0.14 percent;
  • A reduction in aggregate employment of around 0.16 per cent;
  • A slight worsening of the trade balance (around $130 million); and,.
  • An increase in the consumer price index of between 0.21% and 0.31% (See BIR Bulletin, April, p.13, 1990).

Muddled thinking also permeates the question of portability of pensions. On the one hand we are most concerned with the pressure that an ageing population has on economic viability. On this premise one would suppose that one solution would be to encourage our elderly to settle elsewhere thus saving this country millions in health care, residential homes, for instance. Not so, however. It seems that old people should not be allowed to choose where to rest their bones, but must come to Australia, if necessary every year, to renew their allegiance and rights for pensions. It takes the generation of mass anxiety, a multitude of public meetings and intense discussion before the Minister in question sees the light and decides to rethink and perhaps hold discussions in advance with those most closely involved on the outcome of decisions taken in Canberra.

The egotistical 'I AM RIGHT - YOU ARE WRONG' approach (to quote Edward Debono's aphorism) will only serve to generate heat, not light, on the matter. We must be prepared to discuss immigration dispassionately and hopefully come to a reasoned decision

[From: The Ethnic Voice, Vol 2(5) June 1990, p 3]

Source: Maurice N.Cauchi - The Maltese Migrant Experience, Malta 1999

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