8 min 3 weeks

An astounding incongruity now exists in Australia with how organisations such as the Business Council of Australia [BCA], in cahoots with the economic advisory firms KPMG and PwC, pressure the government to significantly increase the annual migration intake. Meanwhile, a critical shortage of rental accommodation exists for those already here.

A fervent champion of mass migration is the president of the BCA, Jennifer Westacott. This woman has pushed the Big Australia agenda from as far back as 2012 (even during the mid-COVID pandemic). A collective of business concerns, headed by Westacott, immediately buttonholed the new government upon its election, hassling them to increase migration. Between 2017 and 2019, the permanent-migration figures were, supposedly, 160,000. The number of temporary migrants was, again, allegedly, 240,000. Industry leaders and their political counterparts are now demanding an added increase of 250,000 per annum.

However, as business groups bang the drums for higher migration, Australians are facing a dire housing shortage. How can the BCA and its affiliates insist on importing more migrants when there aren’t enough homes for Australians?

Those pushing the big-immigration agenda include KPMG’s Bernard Salt, Innes Willox of the Australian Industry Group, Lucy Turnbull, the Premier of NSW, Domonic Perrottet, and Victoria’s Premier, Dan Andrews. They aren’t perturbed by this housing dilemma because they’re already imbued with wealth and property. And, in many cases, some politicians own between three and four luxury properties.

Alice Workman wrote an article in The Australian in July 2022 about 15 federal politicians who own more than three houses. Other commentaries followed in the same periodical. One by James Kirby and the other by Matt Bell. Both are worth noting.

Bell conveys a bizarre situation by quoting the chief economist of PropTrack, Cameron Kushner, saying, “It seems so strange that with no one coming into the country (between March 2020 and November 3, 2021) and population growth this low, we could see the rental market this tight… We are only at the start of the rental crisis, and with overseas and interstate migration returning with borders open, it seems likely that rental conditions will tighten further over the coming months… If the push by business leaders comes to fruition, stock levels, which are already tight, will further decrease and rents will grow rapidly—this is most likely to be the event in Sydney and Melbourne. ”

With particular regard to the Melbourne CBD, on either side of Hungry Jack’s on Spencer Street, Chinese real estate agents operate a total of five agencies. These loyal ex-pats advertise rentals exclusively to students from China. Anyone familiar with the broad expanse of Melbourne’s CBD and its adjacent suburbs knows that this area was radically transformed in the six years between 2014 and early 2020. The major change is due to an estimated 28,000 foreign students inundating those areas. This programme of introducing international students to the CBD has made the CBD unrecognisable. It now resembles a Chinese colony. Worse yet, they’re leaving Australians homeless.

James Kirby writes, “An Albanese government plan to lift migration will further fuel rent increases across the property market, industry analysts suggest.” This is despite, “…The residential market … already witnessing dramatic rent increases as the amount of space for rent. The so-called vacancy rate hovers around one per cent.”

Kirby quotes Tim Lawless, from the economic advisory firm, CoreLogic, who says, “Migrants traditionally head straight to the cities, and they move first to the rental market.”

Lawless is correct when he talks about Indian immigrants. However, over 42,000 Indians (excluding family members) migrated here between 2014 and 2019. They moved directly into 20 development estates in Sydney and Melbourne, having purchased them before leaving India, bypassing the rental market altogether. What’s more disconcerting is that these properties were financed by Indian banks. In 2019, Larry Schlesinger wrote in the Financial Review, “Indian Immigrants Keep Homeownership Dream Alive.”

Two days after the article appeared on March 5, the author rang Shlesinger to query him on how Indians were getting around the credit squeeze. He suggested that Indian immigrants were getting around APRA’s rules because Indian banks were providing them with capital. Schlesinger replied firmly, “I have no idea how this is happening.” The author wondered whether his ignorance was affected.

In July 2018, Robert Gottliebsen wrote an article in The Australian with a similar refrain to Schlesinger’s, “Chinese Buyers Find A Way Around Credit Squeeze.” He quoted another major beneficiary of mass immigration. Property tycoon Harry Triguboff said, “[Despite] Australian banks [having] shut the door [to loans], the Chinese have found a way around the problem and are reorganising their finances.”

Triguboff gloated, “This is terrific and is more like it is overseas because people are not required to say how they will refinance after three to five years.”

With that, Gottliebsen concluded, “The message from Triguboff is that Chinese customers have found a way around the regulator-imposed (APRA) credit squeeze in Australia with the help of Chinese banks.”

Now that the Chinese economy has declined over the past 12 to 18 months, those Chinese either in Australia or wanting to migrate here won’t be able to obtain loans from Chinese banks. However, major Indian banks are ready to sponsor Indian migrants with home loans (on average $750k) in Australia, providing they’re granted permanent residency and will earn over $85k per year in a growth industry.

The number of foreigners entering Australia on these visas is roughly 40% higher than the official figures indicate. Those figures only represent the visa holder. They don’t include the non-working spouse or their children, who enter later. Thus, the 160,000 figure (or whatever it might be) is closer to 220,000. Those with temporary visas are estimated to be around 240,000 per year. Again, these figures hide the reality. An international student spends, on average, four years in Australia before they either leave or become permanent residents.

In other words, five years down the track, those international students who arrive on temp-visas will have accumulated to over 1.2 million. Apart from international students, hundreds of thousands of migrants enter Australia on temporary visas. By the close of 2019 alone, their numbers had accrued to 2.1 million. But with COVID, the number dropped to approximately 1.85 million.

The impact of 900,000 non-Australians each year on those metropolises has reduced the native Anglo-Celtic-European population to a minority. That’s without mentioning the rental crisis caused by the influx, and the homelessness that it creates.

Bear this in mind as the property developers and the politicians in their pockets crow about the return of international students. ■