Thursday, September 16, 2010

Business Council out of touch with people on fixed incomes

Thursday 16th September 2010


The Business Council of Australia’s calls for an increase in the GST and for continuing record high levels of immigration are in the teeth of the best interests of Australians, and especially Australians on fixed incomes- pensioners, retirees, and the unemployed.

Older Australians had their standard of living lowered as a consequence of the GST. The compensation provided to pensioners and retirees for the GST was not adequate, and the GST goes on forever. If the GST goes up, it will be the same all over again- Australians on fixed incomes will find it even harder to make ends meet than they do already.

The Business Council’s wish list also includes a continuation of record high levels of migration. Once again, they are out of touch with the daily reality of life for people who are not in the workforce. Migration driven population growth has fuelled massive increases in house prices, leading to higher rents and council rates. It has put upward pressure on the cost of essentials such as electricity, gas, water and food.

It is a bit rich for the Business Council to say it was “disappointed with the quality of the debate” on issues of population and migration during the election campaign. The election campaign saw Labor, Liberal and Greens responding to public concerns over Australia’s runaway population growth, and that is a healthy and democratic thing.

One can’t help but think that what really worries the Business Council is that 70% of Australians don’t want a ‘Big Australia’, and want to see migration levels returned to those of the 1970s and 1980s. Political parties should respond to that public concern, and look after Australian pensioners, retirees and those who are presently out of the workforce but could be in it given appropriate training.

Federal member for Wills

Kelvin Thomson's response to Sunday Telegraph article 'Fall in migrant arrivals' (12/09/10)

The statement that Australia is heading towards recording its biggest drop in immigration numbers in 90 years is seriously misleading.

It could give the impression that Australia’s runaway population growth is coming under control.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Macroplan’s approach to the immigration issue is like that of a man who used to eat 3 hamburgers a week, but last week ate 11, going to his doctor expecting praise for only eating 8!

The figures provided by Macroplan Australia say that migration numbers fell from 341,000 to 230,000 in the 12 months to July 31.  The fact is that net overseas migration of 230,000 remains incredibly high.  It is much higher than every other year in Australia’s history.

If continued, it would cause Australia’s population to be much higher by 2050 than even the Treasury projections of 36 million by 2050.  These projections are based on net overseas migration each year of 180,000, and 70% of Australians don’t agree that Australia should rise to 36 million by 2050.  They think that number is too high.  During the election campaign the Liberal Party proposed to cut net migration to 170,000.  This would not make much difference to the outcome – it would give us 35 million, rather than 36 million, by 2050.

My own view is that we should cut net overseas migration to 70,000, in line with the figures we used to have in numerous years of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.  This would stabilise Australia’s population by 2050 at 26 million, and would be much better for Australia’s environment.

Macroplan’s claim that a cut in immigration would drop our standard of living is nonsense.   Runaway population growth puts pressure on housing prices, making housing unaffordable.  It is also driving electricity, gas, water and food prices upwards, as well as Council rates.  People are not better off as a result of the rapid increases in migration of the past 5 years, they are financially worse off.

Federal Member for Wills