03 August 2011

Two recent publications on immigration and population issues

In the past month I have come across two well-researched publications on immigration and population issues, each approaching the issues in very different ways. These are in addition to the report on illegal employment mentioned in an earlier post.

The first is a report from the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, entitled Immigration and the Resources Boom Mark II. The main author being Dr Bob Birrell, anyone familiar with this area will not be surprised that the report favours a reduction in immigration intake overall. While critical of the government's policy assumptions, it contains a few of its own that in my view predetermine some of its conclusions. One in particular that I disagree with is the assumption that the need to build and renew infrastructure to cope with population growth is bad or undesirable. I also think that the alleged preoccupation of Australian city dwellers with congestion and overcrowding is more of a political beat up than a reality.

The second is a report from the Productivity Commission entitled A 'Sustainable' Population? - Key Policy Issues. It contains the proceedings of a roundtable discussion on this subject held in Canberra in March 2011. As such it reflects a variety of different views on the issues. I'm glad to see the word "sustainable" put in quotes, since I think it is a largely meaningless tag that gets stuck onto just about any argument these days. I haven't yet had the time to get very far into the different papers and views collected in this volume, but I hope to have a few more observations over the next few weeks. Any comments from anyone who has read all or part of it are very welcome.

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