Daniel Wild Discussing Migration And Housing Research On NewsDay – Sky News Australia

Written by:
15 March 2024
Daniel Wild Discussing Migration And Housing Research On NewsDay – Sky News Australia - Featured image

On March 15, IPA Deputy Executive Director Daniel Wild joined Cheng Lei on NewsDay to discuss the IPA’s research into Migration and Housing.

All media appearances posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


Cheng Lei:

And joining me live for some discussion is Daniel Wild from the Institute of Public Affairs. Welcome to the show, Daniel.

Daniel Wild:

Nice to be with you.

Cheng Lei:

So let’s talk about these January figures. I mean, why are they so high? What’s behind it?

Daniel Wild:

Well, they’re high because it’s government policy. The main economic policy of the government is to increase our GDP through increasing our population growth. Now-

Cheng Lei:

There was a promise to curb arrivals?

Daniel Wild:

There was, they have on a number of occasions said they want to normalise our intake. They’ve said that they’re basically making up for lost ground throughout COVID. However, this is well beyond any intake that would be needed to make up for that slowdown during COVID. And the main issue here is not the migrants themselves, because I understand why so many want to come to our great country for a better life. The issue is-

Cheng Lei:

[inaudible 00:01:47]

Daniel Wild:

You are a great example of that and many others. The issue here is a lack of planning. The schools, the roads, and particularly the housing. The rental market is so tight that not only can young Australians really not afford to even buy a house, they can’t even rent one at the moment. So the government has put the cart before the horse and there’s been a complete lack of planning.

Cheng Lei:

So a lot of these arrivals are international students. Do you think they, some live on campus, some live in student housing. Do you think that in itself is driving up the tightness in the rental market?

Daniel Wild:

That’s a big part of it. We released some analysis last year showing that about two thirds of all houses had been taken up by international students in one given year. Now, I understand that some universities provide on-campus accommodation for international students, but it’s nowhere near in the numbers that are needed to accommodate the total growth of international students into Australia. So that’s one of the key issues. And I think that universities and education providers need to do more to make sure, firstly, that international students have affordable and dignified housing. And secondly, to make sure that they’re not putting pressure on Australians trying to get into the rental market or the housing market as well.

Cheng Lei:

Yeah. I remember first being released and looking for rental housing. And even when I went to an open for inspection, the leases were already signed. It was crazy.

Daniel Wild:

Yeah, it’s almost impossible. You see 50 or 60 people in a line to get a rental property, and there’s something much bigger happening here, when you just look at the raw numbers, and I think James Morrow and the Daily Telegraph has done a great job in spelling all this out. Currently, they’re on track, the government, for over 650,000 this year in terms of the net intake. Our long run historical average is 125,000 per year. So they’re at over five times the long run average. And again, migration has played a very vital role to our economic life and our social fabric.

Cheng Lei:

It’s what makes us.

Daniel Wild:

It’s what makes us the nation we are, but it’s unsustainable. And we’re also seeing some social cohesion challenges as well with the events in the Middle East. So you’ve got the growth numbers plus this sort of division that we’re having in our society that is causing the community a lot of concerns about what will this mean for their day-to-day lives over the coming years.

Cheng Lei:

Do you think we have the wherewithal to be able to handle migrants more cohesively?

Daniel Wild:

Well, I think we do, and we’ve demonstrated that as a nation. So since World War II, we’ve done, I think, a phenomenal job of getting the balance right. But we need to have leadership on this issue from state and federal political leaders that we’re just lacking at the moment. Like I said, the only real economic growth strategy of the government is really mass migration to pump up the headline numbers, but it’s the per capita numbers, as you know, which matter more because that’s more of an indication of how are you going as a person. And we know from the latest data that we’ve had four consecutive quarters of negative per capita economic growth. The last time that happened was in the early 1980s, over 40 years ago, where we were in recession, and there was also a global economic recession. So yes, you can use migration to pump up the economy, but what really matters is the day-to-day lived experience of the person on the street. And that’s actually getting worse in a lot of ways.

Cheng Lei:

And I find it interesting that a lot of employers are still finding it difficult to get employees despite all these arrivals.

Daniel Wild:

Yeah. That’s a really important point because we know that there’s still around 380,000 job vacancies across the country, that’s about 80% higher than what it was pre-COVID. So yes, you could say some of it was attributable to what happened throughout COVID, but we’re well beyond that now, and it’s just not coming down. So the government-

Cheng Lei:

So it’s a skills mismatch?

Daniel Wild:

It’s a skills mismatch. The government has said that we need the migration to fill the jobs. Well, fair enough. But it’s failed. We’ve had record migration for the last 12 to 18 months, but our job vacancies have never been higher. There’s also another important policy area, which is the restrictions on pensioners, veterans and students getting into work because they have such high effective marginal tax rates. So if you’re a pensioner and you earn more than about $230 a week, you’ve then got to pay 69 cents in tax or lost benefits.

Cheng Lei:

Wow.

Daniel Wild:

So that’s why only three out of a hundred pensioners-

Cheng Lei:

That’s a disincentive.

Daniel Wild:

A massive disincentive. So we know that 20% want to work, but only 3% are working. So the government just needs to look at these homegrown solutions to this problem rather than always doing the population growth strategy.

Cheng Lei:

So being a numbers nerd, I was also looking at what makes up these new arrivals. And it turns out there’s a big increase in people from central and South Asia, and also the median age is pretty young, 26 to 28. Surely that’s good for the economy.

Daniel Wild:

Well, there’s lots of positives from migration to the economy. We talked about jobs, provided that there’s a skills matchup that’s taking place which at the moment it doesn’t appear to be the case. We do have an ageing population, so having a younger demographic coming into the nation will help with long-term budgetary pressures. But again, I come back to this point that whatever you do, whatever the justification, it has to be planned for. One of the reasons why we’ve had a successful migration programme, going back to Arthur Caldwell in the post-World war II era, the populate or perish idea, is people could get houses, people could get jobs. This was an era where-

Cheng Lei:

Starting with a blank slate.

Daniel Wild:

Well, we were, but the government had a vision for the future of the country. They said, economically, we have to populate because of the dangers of the region we’re in. And socially we want to have a cohesion, integration strategy.

Cheng Lei:

Productive.

Daniel Wild:

So they had a vision, but this government, they’re just bringing in numbers to put up the GDP, but where’s the vision for the future of the country?

Cheng Lei:

Okay. Interesting points. Thank you so much for your time today.

Daniel Wild:

Pleasure. Thank you.

Cheng Lei:

Have a great weekend.

Daniel Wild:

Thanks.

Cheng Lei:

It’s Daniel Wild from the Institute of Public Affairs.

This transcript with Daniel Wild talking on NewsDay – Sky News Australia from 15 March 2024 has been edited for clarity.

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