The recent ABS release had some welcome news. Net Overseas Migration was down 64.8 per cent compared to the previous year. Resulting in a much more practical net overseas migration figure of 85,100 people.

The Covid 19 related pause on international travel gives the Morrison government the perfect opportunity to reset net overseas migration to more manageable levels than the previous 15 years.

Unfortunately, there are no signs yet, that the Australian PM is contemplating a return to a longer-term average of around 90,000 net overseas migration per annum.

The Federal government refuse to listen to the common sense of Australian citizens concerned with the impacts of mass migration on quality of life (see discussion below).

Immigration policy in Australia.

Australia’s population growth has been in hyper drive for the past 15 years, mostly due to the massive temporary migration program.

Australia experienced an explosion in net overseas migration starting with the implementation of the 457 visa and other temporary worker programs in the mid 1990’s, reaching a high of 315,000 people in 2008, see Graph 1 below.

This was due to sloopy immigration policies from both major parties. One of these was under the Howard Liberal government linking permanent visa grants for students enrolling in lower and higher education courses and allocating additional bonus visa points.

In 2008, the Rudd Labor Government reformed student visas to automatically grant the right to work for up to 20 hours a week while their course was in session and unlimited hours throughout the year. Previously, foreign students were required to make a separate application for the right to work after being granted a student visa.

The legacy of Howard and Rudd immigration policies, led to an acceleration in demand for Australian visas, in particular from low income countries in the Asia Pacific Region. With Chinese and Indian nationals leading the charge.  

In 2008-09 student visa grants spiked at 319,000.

This massive intake of foreign students, propelled Australia to its highest ever net overseas migration figure to 315,000 in 2008, (Graph 1 below). This equates to an incredible 243% increase over and above the long-term average for net overseas migration.

Graph 1; Annual Population change Australia

(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, National, state and territory population, Released


The push back on Australia’s huge migration program.

The loosely controlled temporary migration program started to alert the public, with huge numbers of migrants flowing into Australia’s major cities, culminating in infrastructure issues, persistent hospital waiting lists and other social and environmental problems.

This led to a sharp spike in anti-immigration sentiment

In 2018, for the first time in Lowy Institute polling, a majority (54%, a 14-point rise from 2017) of Australians say the ‘total number of migrants coming to Australia each year’ is too high. Australians also questioned the impact of immigration on the national identity.

The push back on hyper immigration was also instigated by the more Conservative side of Australian politics, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.

In 2018, Senator Hanson introduced a new bill in parliament.

A Bill for an Act to provide for a plebiscite at the next general election in relation to the level of migration to Australia, and for related purposes:

The question to be submitted to electors at the plebiscite was: “From December 2005 to December 2016 Australia’s population grew from 20.5 million to 24.4 million; 62% of this growth was from net overseas migration. Do you think the current rate of immigration to Australia is too high?”

Population Research WA wholeheartedly supported the Senators’ plebiscite on migration.

But as was predicted, the two main parties Liberal and Labor are totally committed to mass migration and therefore the Plebiscite Bill was defeated.

Closing remarks

Given net overseas migration has returned to long-term normality, due to the Covid 19 pandemic and resulting international restrictions on travel. Population Research views this as the perfect opportunity to give the Australian public a democratic say on migration levels for Australia.

Approaching the next Federal election, the Morrison government should recognise the right for Australian citizens to become involved in steering the country towards a less excessive migration intake than the past 15 years, which has taking its toll on Australia’s cities, suburbs, and environs.

The pause in mass migration has presented an excellent opportunity to revisit the Plebiscite (Future Migration Level) Bill at the next Federal election.

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