Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


Plebiscite (Future Migration Level) Bill 2018; Second Reading

3:43 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.

Leave granted.

I table an explanatory memorandum, and I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Australia's population increased by 3.5 million people in the decade 2006 to 2016. Around 60% of that population increase came from immigration.

There is no doubt that immigration is the cause of Australia's exceptional population growth.

If we continue to allow annual immigration targets to determine the size of our population, then the Australian Bureau of Statistics expects that Australia's population increase will double from 25 million to 50 million in just 30 years. Melbourne and Sydney will become megacities of over ten million people, but there is no evidence that we can plan and pay for this growth.

Governments, both Liberal and Labor, argue immigration is good for the economy, but economist Judith Sloan says immigration benefits special interest groups. She says the economics of immigration are very clear. In the short term immigration reduces per capita income and in the long term per capita income gains are very modest, but these calculations ignore the congestion costs, house prices and the loss of amenity.

Our immigration policy is like a horse that has lost its rider. It is dangerous. What we need is a rider, a population policy to safely guide the immigration horse.

Each year the government of the day sets an immigration target, but there is no plan to take into account the cumulative long term consequences of those yearly decisions. In fact it is the States and Territories that are left to manage the ever increasing population. State Governments are now carrying very high levels of debt and have little prospect of ever paying these loans.

If high levels of legal immigration are such a good idea, why is Australia the only OECD country with a population greater than ten million that is increasing its population at the rate of over 1.7% a year?

In 2011 the percentage of overseas born was just over 25% but today it is over 28%. In certain regions of our major cities those percentages are much higher due to concentration of settlement by certain groups.

No other comparable country has such a high proportion of overseas born. We have double the percentage of overseas born when we compare ourselves to the United States, the United Kingdom or New Zealand.

It is time to put the interests of citizens first and to stop pandering to special interest groups, including business, higher education and property developers who benefit from excessive immigration.

The Lowy Institute Survey reported a 'sharp spike in anti-immigration sentiment' in 2018, causing their annual sentiment measure to change from positive to negative.

The 2017 Scanlon Survey reported 37% of respondents see the current immigration intake as too high, but when respondents remained anonymous 74% said that Australia did not need any more people.

In the same year the Australian Population Research Institute found 54% of respondents, who were Australian voters, wanted the number of immigrants reduced.

The government and the opposition must be aware of these findings, but they have not changed their positions. Jointly the major political parties want a bigger and bigger population for Australia.

Is it that these political parties do not believe the results of these surveys?

Inevitably the sample sizes in these surveys are small when compared to the total population. Perhaps the major parties will be persuaded of the electorates view if a plebiscite on immigration is held at the next general election, because that is what is proposed in the Plebiscite (Future Migration Level) Bill 2018.

My Bill proposes to ask voters "Do you think the immigration rate is too high?"

My view is that an overwhelming majority of Australians will say that the immigration rate is too high, when they are told 62% of the population increase in the decade to 2016 was the result of immigration.

It is clear to see that the benefits of a high level of legal immigration are outweighed by problems, but political parties depend for much of their support from the special interest groups which benefit from high immigration.

The Liberals and Labor have two choices. Either they accept there is no political support for high levels of legal immigration or they can argue there is no problem with legal mass immigration.

There is plenty of evidence the government and the opposition will use statistics to mislead the electorate on the real cause of Australia's population explosion.

There are three recent examples worth noting.

The first one took place on the day after the Budget in May this year when the Treasurer said that permanent immigration only accounted for around 20% of Australia's population growth.

Treasurer Morrison made that statement knowing that many permanent visas can only be issued after residency requirements in Australia are met. Once these pathway visas are taken into account, permanent immigration accounts for around 60% of Australia's population growth and not the 20% claimed by the Treasurer.

The second example involved the publication of figures which showed that in 2017-18 the number of permanent migrants had dropped from 190,000 to 163,000, but the government failed to say that a further 40,000 people were on bridging visas awaiting the outcome of their applications for permanent residence. In other words, the government can manipulate the figures by reducing staffing resources.

Labor is just as deceptive, because like the government they will not accept there is a problem with permanent immigration.

Labor says the immigration problem is one of temporary migration because we have two million temporary migrants in Australia, including up to half a million foreign students. Temporary migrants, however, are just temporary and unless they are on a pathway visa they leave Australia.

Political parties must be stupid to deny there is a problem with permanent migration, because families do notice demountable classrooms at the school, crowded train platforms, buses that don't stop because they are already full, ever increasing travelling times between familiar destinations and long wait times to see specialist doctors etc.

I have often been called a 'populist', but all I do is listen to people wherever I go.

Unlike most of the political class I talk with people, who are doing their best to get by, and they tell me that politicians are out of step with them on the issue of migration.

I take the view that I am here to represent the views of most Australians or a significant majority of Australians.

One Nation believes that our immigration should be reduced to 70,000 a year or whatever number is necessary to maintain the current population size and a sustainable population profile.

Australia is a dry continent and our vast land fragile. We need to consider the carrying capacity of the country.

At the end of World War II Australia's population was over seven million people and 90% of those people were born in Australia. In 1945 we were short of labor and the war had created a feeling that a bigger population would be necessary if we were to defend ourselves in the future. After the horror of the war in Europe many people wanted to leave and start a new life in Australia.

I acknowledge the hard work and the contribution made by so many overseas born Australians and their families, but that does not mean that we should continue to have the highest levels of legal immigration in the world.

I do not believe in a bigger and bigger population, but more importantly I believe Australian Citizens need to be given a say and that governments should not act on this issue without a mandate from the people of Australia which is why I am putting this Bill before the Senate for debate.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.