Immigration and deferring blame


The blame game


Immigration and deferring blame seem to be a sport for government and media outlets. Large societal players can manipulate issues by blaming other less ‘attractive’ societal groups. The National Budget has put a spotlight on immigration and decided that migrants are competing with locals for the limited housing available and that needs to be controlled.


The Labor Government has put a cap on immigration to partly address the housing crises and the Liberal Government’s response was to be even more aggressive on immigration. Both want to be the hero and claim they are addressing home ownership. This demonising a group to deflect from difficult problems often has real estate at the core.


The irony is we need houses and we don’t have enough tradies in Australia to build what we need. This focus on immigration is a clear case of deferring blame because Australia needs tradies and we cannot produce our own quickly enough to address the housing shortage. The other issue the government can deflect is that these homes need to be built in places where people do not want them – an unpalatable vote killer.


It is easier to blame a group and demonize them than tackle the root cause. The media also loves the blame game. Most coverage perpetuates the immigration blame game but there is not equal coverage on what will happen if we reduce the migrant intake. Most mainstream media is relishing the ugly division that popular opinion generates but no coverage exists that calls the media out for monetizing these stories.


The big picture


Australia has a long history of immigration, which continues to play a significant role in shaping its population and economy. Immigration policies, including skilled migration programs, family reunification schemes, international students and humanitarian intake, influence the influx of people into the country. Immigration impacts various sectors, including labour markets, housing, infrastructure, and cultural diversity.


The demand for housing in Australia is affected by immigration but also by low interest rates, investment speculation, and urbanization. High demand relative to supply has led to soaring property prices and concerns about housing affordability in many parts of the country.


Demand for housing


Population growth in Australia is partly driven by immigration. It is correct that population growth, particularly in urban centres has fuelled demand for housing. As more people move to cities, the demand for housing in urban areas increases, leading to densification and higher property prices. However, property as an investment also fuels demand. Investors who own several houses could also be blamed for denying first-home buyers access to housing. However, changing tax laws is not as widely accepted as reducing immigration.


If Australia does not focus on our falling population through immigration, we will not have taxpayers to pay for all the infrastructure and resources we need. It seems highly unlikely that Australians will increase their families’ size as the costs are now prohibitive. So, no matter how you see it we need migrants to continue building the Australia we all currently enjoy.