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Australian Media Nativists on Immigration Population Growth

Price cuts key to boosting international student market. THE Abbott’s government’s decision to extend streamlined visa processing to invited non-university providers won’t boost the international student market much unless the new players significantly undercut universities on price, according to demographer Bob Birrell.

“We will have to wait to see who these providers are, the courses they are offering and their price before further judgement,” Dr Birrell told the HES. “But as they stand (the changes) are unlikely to boost revenue much at all, subject to the price issue,” he said.

However Dr Birrell noted that the change will provide more competition for universities, who could lose students to private providers and TAFEs offering competitively priced courses…’

  • What has been the impact upon enrolments via private ELICOS, VET and TAFE feeder courses to universities over past few years, and of late Streamlined Visa processing?
  • Advantages private colleges of higher education have over universities are not just e.g. 30% lower fees but more start dates, smaller classes, easier access to faculty, payment plans and personal welfare.
  • If universities are concerned about international price competition they should have thought of that during past 15 years when fees often increased well beyond CPI.
  • Since when has Dr. Bob Birrell been qualified to comment on international education, apart from former Labor Senator Bob Carr describing him as ‘Australia’s best demographer’?  In other words Birrell’s background should preclude him from being asked to comment on anything related to foreigners, immigrants, students etc.


Why? Birrell has contributed and liaised with John Tanton and The Social Contract Press in the USA, described as:

‘The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants. Recent articles in its main product, The Social Contract, have propagated the myth that Latino activists want to occupy and ‘reclaim’ the American Southwest, argued that no Muslim immigrants should be allowed into the U.S., and claimed that multiculturalists are trying to replace “successful Euro-American culture” with “dysfunctional Third World cultures.”’

Further, several journalists in Australia frequently cite Birrell’s ‘research’ i.e. opinions and views on immigration, international education, employment, English language skills and population growth.  These include The Age’s Tim Colebatch, News Corp’s John Masanauskas at the Herald Sun, Leith van Onselen at MacroBusiness, as does The Australian’s Higher Education section.

Using the same over population and/or anti immigration narrative based on unfounded claims, while making no distinction between temporary residents and permanent immigrants, highly educated journalists spread the message further into the mainstream, and help inflame the ‘torrid and emotional debate’ (as described in the UK by Business Secretary Vince Cable) in Australia as evidenced by comments on recent MacroBusiness article:

From Leith van Onselen, High Immigrationis not an economic no brainer.  Over the weekend, Business Spectator’s Rob Burgess posted an article strongly supporting his boss, Rupert Murdoch’s, plea that Australia maintain its high immigration intake, while lambasting those whom question the merits of such policy:

…. But Burgess’ claim that to question high immigration is either silly or xenophobic is economic hogwash (but you cite same negative claims without empirical evidence).

As regular readers will know, I have been a long-time skeptic of Australia’s high immigration policy, which is running at roughly double historical norms. While expanding Australia’s population by more than 1 million people every three years might be great for Australia’s business elites –  who enjoy the fruits of an expanded market – it imposes real costs on the rest of us, who must endure increased costs of congestion, higher infrastructure costs, lower environmental amenity, and minimal uplift in material economic well-being…

…However, while the big end of town is the clear winner from rapid population growth, it doesn’t wear many of the costs. That is borne by you and I.

As argued many times previously, while I believe that Australia could probably support a substantially larger population with improved policy settings and investment, like many Australians, I don’t hold much faith in our political class or policy making processes, which have time and again proven to be deficient in providing adequately for the pre-existing population (let also tens of millions more people), or that a substantially larger population would improve living standards anyway.

I challenge commentators, like Rob Burgess, to counter my arguments and articulate why high immigration is unambiguously beneficial for ordinary Australians. Given high immigration is supposedly a “no brainer”, they shouldn’t have too much trouble drafting their response.

One would think someone with high level numerical and analytical skills (e.g. sceptical of auction ‘clearance rates’), while offering no clear evidence yet demanding it of others, could point out that the definition of ‘immigration’ used or more correctly net overseas migration NOM, includes temps such as international students, 2nd year backpackers, 457 temp workers, dependents etc.; and uses the clichéd and suggestive language popular with anti immigration and over population alarmists?  At first logical then emotional…..

Further, does little to stop MB’s own commenters showing their true colours, keeping in mind most would claim to be well educated, centre left politically, and progressive or tolerant…..

It all sounds too much like the same claims offered by the John Tanton Network over the decades, coincidence?  At best nice to know Australians do not need to do anything provided we stop all those pesky foreigners…. amd the status quo remains….

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