There is probably no greater policy divide between the elite and proles than on immigration. Put simply, the elite just love immigration: the more, the better. After all, they reap all the benefits: cheap workers and funky ethnic cafes. The rest of us, who have to pay all the costs for little return, are, as repeated surveys show, not so keen.

But who cares what a bunch of bogans think? As rock group TISM once said to me, “Certainly we would support the proletariat — if they weren’t such fucking peasants”. So it is that Australians are regularly browbeaten by lobby groups spruiking for not just continued but increased mass immigration. Recent “studies” have called for up to two million migrants (a near 10% population increase) in just the next five years.

Even the Big Australia addicts know that this sort of nonsense is a near-impossible sell, so they do what all hucksters do: lie.

In an editorial published last year, it was argued that “migration is often miscast as a Ponzi scheme, lazy growth in which migrants service other migrants to produce headline GDP gain that is neither sustainable nor worthwhile. That’s a fundamental misreading of the character of Australia. Unlike most of its developed peers, Australia is still a frontier economy with untapped resources, and its biggest days in front of it.”

This is utterly bizarre nonsense on stilts. Australia hasn’t been a “frontier economy” since at least the late 19th century, which is when the country’s income from services first outstripped primary production — and when it was already the most urbanised country in the world.

And it is absolutely true that mass migration is a Ponzi scheme, because it must be continually increased in order to get the same GDP boost relative to the total population.

It’s also true that it’s “lazy growth”, which massively disadvantages the resident population. Even the writer of the two-million-migrants report acknowledges that “immigration can moderate wages”. Which is as close as you’ll get to a Big Australia fanatic admitting that mass migration drives down income for workers.

This is where the laziness comes in: rather than take the time and spend the money to invest in training local workers, big employers simply import them en masse from the developing world.

It seems passing strange when so many of our young folk aspire to be doctors but are rejected because of the limited number of university places, but we regard bringing in doctors from overseas (who would be highly valued in their own countries) as acceptable. The solution is obvious: train more of our own.

What? And spend their own money? Don’t be absurd.

Speaking of absurdities, there is also the argument that mass migration is a net economic benefit. Again, the spruikers resort to lies and obfuscation.

One of the angles pushed by big Australia advocates is that migrants provide a fiscal dividend by generating more in tax revenue than they cost (think here education, health and aged care, transfer payments). According to Treasury modelling, skilled primary migrants have a positive lifetime fiscal impact of $319,000 per migrant. (Bear in mind here that only the costs incurred by the federal government are included. The costs borne by the states, including of additional infrastructure, are not counted.)

The problem here is that all the other migrant groups, including skilled secondary (who have a right to accompany skilled primary migrants), have negative fiscal lifetime impacts. Family migrants, who remain a substantial part of the permanent migrant intake, generate a lifetime fiscal impact of negative $137,000 per migrant.

Of course, it is simply not possible to attract skilled migrants without allowing them to be accompanied by their spouse/partner. Many also seek to bring in other family members, including elderly parents (often on temporary visas).

The Australian

So, if one skilled migrant brings in only two or three family members, that supposed positive fiscal impact is blown out of the water. Mass migration becomes a net economic negative.

Which doesn’t even begin to address the social and infrastructure negatives. But then, when you’re an economist with KPMG, it’s extremely doubtful that you’re going to be living in a cheek-by-jowl new outer-suburb and commuting hours every day on choked freeways, let alone waiting weeks for a GP appointment.

Everything’s win-win when you’re at the top of the heap. Let the peasants eat quinoa at that chic new ethnic cafe in the hipster, Greens-voting inner-city suburb.

The Big Lies of Big Australia

Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...