Once upon a time, proud, multicultural Australia heard Pauline Hanson’s talking points and found them intolerable. Outside of that one uncle everyone avoids at the Christmas party, we’d collectively laugh at them. “Fuck off, we’re full,” wasn’t ever a sincere phrase. It was a mocking term, fake thick bogan accent and all, that was used to insult people who were too damn racist to realise that migrants add more to Australian culture than they take from it.
Sadly, now it’s mainstream. Sadly, it has become the policy line of the parliamentary “left.”
Late last week, Anthony Albanese, supposed hero of the “left” wing of Australian politics – outright communist if you can stomach Sky News propaganda long enough to hear their talking heads claim that with a straight face – promised that since “our migration system is broken,” he was going to take charge, and Labor was going to “bring migration back to sustainable levels.”
This week we heard what Albanese’s plans are via Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil.
“It is far too easy to use the side doors and back doors of the migration system to come as a temporary, lower-paid migrant,” she rued in a column that an Australian newspaper had the gall to publish.
“We’ve got the system backwards. We need better, protected, regulated pathways for the workers needed in the lower-skill parts of the economy… we need freer movement of people in highly skilled roles, who will create jobs and wealth for Australians.”
That might seem like pretty words. Many will read that and think, “fuck yeah, they’re closing down the loopholes and the rorts!” But, of course, for anyone that has dealt with immigration to this country those “rorts” are pure fantasy, and the actual meaning of those pretty words is blunt: “fuck off, we’re full. Unless we can exploit you to our benefit.”
This is also why Labor has refused to do anything about the cost of the partner visa (which is now nearly $9,000, despite perpetual dickhead, Julian Hill, campaigning hard on how “illegal” that was, when it was cheaper, under the L/NP). Partners are undesirable. Good poor people are not wanted. In fact, unless you’re a handy resource to tap for your skills, Labor and Australia don’t want you.
Migrants are not people to this government or, sadly, this population. They’re a tool. A gold mine. A GDP boost. Pauline Hanson was never smart enough to add that level of “nuance” to her politics, but it is what she always meant. Hanson has always been pro-migration if it’s white people from wealthy countries. In other words, Labor has adopted One Nation rhetoric and is building policy that, while One Nation will inevitably claim isn’t enough, is in the direction that they want to see it.
How did we get here?
To look at it pragmatically, it’s understandable why Albanese’s Labor government has adopted the same attitude towards migration that the most fringe right-wing skinheads have advocated for: Albanese’s Labor government runs on populism, and mainstream Australia, across both left and right, has embraced anti-immigrant attitudes with a fervour that is, frankly, embarrassing.
Take, for example, the new favourite national hobby of blaming migrants for the housing crisis. Whether it’s the popular left or right, to listen to these people (as Albanese clearly does), we need to reduce immigration to nothing to have any hope of returning housing to affordable levels.
That is, of course, nonsense and a convenient mask for the actual reason to be anti-immigrant (racism). The housing crisis is a problem with supply, not demand, and the reasons for that stem from issues like a total lack of infrastructure making it difficult to build high-density properties quickly, and resistance to zoning making large parts of our critical city real estate inaccessible for building up. Forcing the NIMBYs to piss off, or just ignoring their complaints about new train stations or high-rise apartment blocks, would do more to solve the housing crisis than slashing immigration.
Another popular talking point that the “left” and One Nation seem to share is the idea that inflation is being caused by immigration and brown and yellow people are, therefore, bad for the cost of living. In fact, reducing immigration too far would be catastrophic to the cost of living for us all. What’s actually going on in our economy is a different picture to what they paint: Australia is already experiencing a per capita recession. That’s bad enough, to be sure. But what these galaxy-brained geniuses haven’t figured out (or simply don’t care about) is that reducing immigration turns that into an actual, bonafide recession.
And a recession generally comes with a hike in the cost of living (particularly when the recession occurs during an inflationary period), with basics like food, petrol and clothing becoming even more expensive. The populists are either too dumb to understand this, or, out of spite and cruelty, they believe that the tradeoff is worth it. Either way, that cut in immigration would result in a cut to what ends up on the table for many Australians.
A recession means a rapidly increasing unemployment rate. If we, as a nation, had the means to handle that then it would be one thing, but we don’t. The Australian household saving rate is a terrifyingly low 1.10 per cent, and the unemployment rate is about half of the Henderson poverty line. So, what an increase in unemployment means is a rapid increase in starving Australians. It also means stagnating wages for those lucky enough to hang on to their jobs, and while the property bubble might deflate a little, good luck getting a loan after banks tighten their lending requirements because the defaults are piling up.
The only people that benefit from a recession are, surprise!, the 1%. They can weather the storm and buy up assets to come out strong on the other end. Anyone outside of that 1% should not be looking forward to a second “recession we had to have,” as saccharine Paul Keating fanboy Jim Chalmers would inevitably claim. Anyone that genuinely cares about the welfare of Australians would hope that immigration stays high enough to keep us out of a recession, until we can address the structural issues sitting underneath.
Without a doubt, Australia has structural issues, and relying on migrants to stave off a lost decade or mini-depression is a lousy way to do things. But the solution to this is not to blow everything up. You fix the problem first, and rather than blame brown people for your life sucking, you start looking at the mismanagement of the Australian economy, from as far back as Howard, as creating a big fucking tangle of threads that need to be untangled before we even touch immigration levels.
Anthony Albanese has been a monumental disappointment, even when all he promised was to be a not-Morrison. If we wanted someone to demonise migrants to appease the mob, implement stupid policies that will cause the country long-term harm (again, to appease the mob), and crib One-Fucking-Nation talking points while doing so, we may as well have just kept Morrison. He was almost as good at that as he was cooking the occasional chicken curry.
Migrants are not Australia’s problem. Migrants put up with an awful lot of shit, and the only thanks they get for it is people giving a thumbs up to the “foreign food” they’re shoving down their gullets. By far the worst thing that migrants put up with is being a scapegoat every time something goes wrong in this country. With no meaningful voice or representation in public debate, they’re the easy target to shift blame for everything onto, and sadly Australia’s education system doesn’t seem to be good enough to help people see through such crass populism.
Migrants are not the problem in this country. They’re not the cause of our economic challenges, the cost of living, or the housing crisis. In fact, they’re quite often all that stands between us and things becoming so much worse.
So fuck Anthony Albanese and Clare O’Neil for seeing their fading poll numbers and actually going with “Fuck off, we’re full.” What utterly gutless, dishonest, cruel and worthless politicians they’ve turned out to be.