MORE LABOUR MIGRATION IS THE LAST THING WE NEED
The claim by Chris Richardson of Access Economics that we need more skilled migrants in order to cope with the flood damage is insulting and ridiculous.
1. We were able to build the roads, bridges, schools etc that have been damaged by the floods. To suggest we have lost the skills needed to rebuild this infrastructure is insulting. If it has any substance, it suggests that relying on skilled migration is dumbing Australia down.
2. Numerous studies show that new arrivals come with a big infrastructure requirement. They bring their families with them, and all require houses, roads, schools, hospitals etc and many require English-language and other forms of assistance. One academic has found that population growth of 2% in a community doubles the infrastructure task of that community. In the years ahead the building industry will have its work cut out for it in rebuilding flood hit towns and communities. Nationally we’ve just had a flood come through the house. This is a time for replacing the carpets and the furniture and getting the power back on, not putting on an extension.
3. Mr Richardson’s argument that the recovery effort will drive demand for jobs, leading to price rises and then to higher interest rates, ignores the impact of higher population growth on prices and interest rates. Population growth is driving electricity price rises, gas price rises, water price rises, housing price rises, food price rices and higher grocery bills. These price rises put upward pressure on interest rates. Why is Mr Richardson concerned about inflation caused by workers getting higher wages but not concerned about inflation caused by population growth?
4. Mr Richardson’s Access Economics Report says that the unemployment rate is set to drop to 4% this year. This is a good thing, and we should welcome it, not try to undermine it through labour immigration. Prime Minister Gillard said last year she wanted Australia to become a high participation economy, where everyone who has the capacity to work has the opportunity to work. She is absolutely right, but labour migration to Australia only undermines that goal.
5. Mr Richardson claims that “migration numbers have been falling away very fast. It’s been happening for a while now but the acceleration there is a concern”. But the official Departmental figures show that Net Overseas Migration was 100,000 in 2004,
123,800 in 2005,
146,800 in 2006,
177,600 in 2007,
213,500 in 2008 and
285,300 in 2008-09.
So our net migration nearly trebled in six years. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship official report described the skilled migration for 2008-09 of 114,777 places as “the largest outcome on record”. Mr Richardson needs to produce evidence to support his claim.
6. The claim that a lack of skills will hold back the reconstruction task flies in the face of facts that:
· The Master Electricians Australia CEO has stated that Queensland has enough electrical contractors to handle the work and he opposes interstate electricians fixing Queensland homes
· Some builders have put their business on hold while they fix their homes; one said “it’s too hard to take on clients….when you don’t know if you’ve got a house to live in.”
· Trying to do everything at once risks running the economy in such a way that the Reserve Bank steps into slow things down by raising interest rates – the very thing Mr Richardson says he doesn’t want to see happen.
KELVIN THOMSON MP
Member for Wills
Thur 27 January, 2010