Glaring policy omission: Immigration numbers

In that case you just interpret it as: ∞ = ♁ − :australia: − 1

That is infinity equals Earth (population) minus Australia (current population, because they’re already here) minus one (me; because if everyone’s coming here then there’ll be some comfy stuff out there and I intend to enjoy it).


I’m not sure if an absolute number makes sense given the capacity of Australia to support people can be increased with technology and thus would change over time.
If you want some evidence based absolute number fine, although I don’t know where you’ll find such a number or calculate one.

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Having done a bit of thinking on the topic and the meta-topic, it’s obvious to me that we should attempt to run a PDC working group regarding Aussie population policy next cycle (2018-2019). For all our explanations of why it hasn’t happened yet, OP is right in that we ought to have policy in this space.

Things to consider at a minimum:

  1. natural environmental carrying capacity looking forward over the next 50+ years (could eg CSIRO be commissioned to re-evaluate this every decade?)
  2. built environmental carrying capacity (i.e. if you want more residents you need to fund more (effficient/effective) infrastructure and services)
  3. How (1) & (2) relate to demographic trends (I.E. yes, we can take some net immigration because otherwise we’d decline, assuming we haven’t hit capacity yet)
  4. in many ways as far as the above is concerned a net gain is a net gain, so what proportion of the net immigrants should be voluntary and what proportion refugees?
  5. What if we’re already over capacity according to (1)?

A bit of Googling turned up this:

… as long ago as 1994 the Australian Academy of Sciences advocated a maximum population for Australia of 24 million …

That’s the only unequivocal number I’ve found so far. We’re past that now and the country started looking pretty sick a while back.

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I think this actually a really good solution and I’m surprised it’s taken this long to enter the debate. Apparently you can put in conditions into visas that entice people to move into places other than Melbourne and Sydney. Give them bonus visa points, but also put conditions on people who take up that offer that moving into Melbourne or Sydney violate their terms of the visa and result in it being cancelled. It seems like a pretty good compromise to me. So long as we can put the screws on immigration into Melbourne and Sydney (the big problem centres) we can ensure the rest of the country is not affected from tighter immigration.
We’d also get a lot more decentralisation given new migrants would initially be forced into other parts of the country. Even if they eventually become citizens and move into Melbourne or Sydney, it would at least suppress the rate at which they can move into those cities. And who knows, maybe after living in other parts of the country they might even find they like it, and actually decide to stay?

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It’s tantalising on the surface, but what it amounts to needing to be effective is a federal government commitment to funding decentralisation.

The article recognises this:

the federal government sets the number of immigrants each year but the states are supposed to build the cities to absorb them.

It’s also limited in that it can only really apply to permanent skilled/choice migration.

  • Our refugee intake has to go where the support services can properly exist, which to my mind means only first-tier and second-tier cities (>80K population).
  • Our family intake is going where their families are (for the most part, that’s the big cities).
  • Our temporary skilled migration quietly got much more temporary earlier this year (but anyone covered by that is still likely going to reside in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Darwin, or Mining Boom Town of the Year).
  • Our student intake is going overwhelmingly to the big cities also.
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@Jesse_Hermans, we did cover that slightly in our immigration policy quite a long time ago.

Asylum seeking is lawful, and processing should not last longer than the minimum time-frame necessary to assess claims and conduct health and security checks. Approved asylum seekers can be brought into the community, provided with support and training, and settled in areas where jobs remain persistently vacant (the National Farmers Federation estimates around 96,000 jobs are unfilled in regional areas).[314]

Thinking was that it even resolves security concerns to some degree. Settling people in country towns, everyone knows everyone else’s business in places like that.

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The biggest issue I think with relying on this policy is historically it isn’t effective:

The main problem with skilled immigration is there has to actually be job demand for skilled migrants in regional areas for them to actually move there.
So creating a que jumping regional preference system while good, is only to extent that demand for those immigrants in those regions exists.

I don’t think it will have much impact. Maybe more effective if the overall intake is reduced, and competition for the limited immigration quota also entices people to also take the regional restrictions to que jump.

There is also the Grattan Institute argument that decentralisation is bad because businesses deliberately move to city where there is higher productivity, access to labour, customers etc. Although arguably those benefits are offset by higher land costs.

It’s also ironic Grattan takes this line when they also argue that agglomeration economics of transport don’t exist.

That said, the priority in incentivising relocation is better transport links to regional hubs. People will move into a place (I.e regional town) if they can still access the city within a reasonable commute. If you provide those transport nodes you effectively turn regional land into suburb land, which will be reflected in the increase in land value. That ties into a whole other land value capture point…

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