Australian immigration in the 21st century (Part 1)

This is the first in a two part series about Australian immigration in the 21st century

Two symbols of Australian suburban life – the Hills-Hoist and the lawnmower –were broadcast to the world at the Sydney Olympics. Both command attention in backyards across the country, most of which are more than big enough to play cricket in. At the dawn of the 21st century, a bemused global audience caught a glimpse of how we see ourselves. Above all, our space – an entire continent to ourselves – embodied an idyllic Australian lifestyle.

This is the heart of the our population debate. More people means less space. This sentiment fused with electoral politics makes for uncomfortable public policy and strange bedfellows.

The most recent iteration of this potent mix was seen in 2010. A new Prime Minister ran from her predecessor’s policy agenda and a future Prime Minister surveyed the political landscape and made the easy call. Divisive public opinion provided the foundation for ‘a great big new tax’ and ‘stop the boats’. Yet even in this period of heightened political division, bipartisanship in Canberra was far from extinct.

A ‘sustainable Australia’ was born.

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott campaigned almost in tandem. Abbott called immigration ‘out of control’, Gillard created a Minister for Population and Sustainability and we were promised a Productivity and Sustainability Commission from a Coalition government, which was inevitably scrapped very quietly.

In the four years since, sustainability has been incorporated as a buzzword into the political lexicon, littered within endless talking points and speeches.

This bipartisanship shades the truth. A big Australia is here to stay. Whatever the word sustainable once meant, it must incorporate at least 36 million people by 2050. Sam Dastyari uses his own word to describe the 2010 debate: rhetoric.

“When Gillard redefined the issue from a big Australia to a sustainable Australia, it was actually more rhetoric than policy. It was rhetoric. Rather than embrace it and debate, we’ll redefine it into a less scary concept. There was obviously politics in that. Rhetoric not being matched by policy change was actually disingenuous but everyone is in on it. The Conservatives have got in and nothing at this point indicates anything serious in terms of the broader immigration framework but again, it’s almost as if there is this secret that everyone is in on.”

In his short time in Parliament, Dastyari has become the poster boy for a big Australia.

“It’s become this huge taboo in politics, talking about immigration, talking about population. This is the most significant challenge that is going to be facing us in the next 20-30 years”

This taboo doesn’t apply to Dastyari. A pivotal figure in the much-storied NSW Right faction of the ALP, his position in the Senate allows him a wide berth to explore the controversial. The fact he is Iranian-born is nearly lost in the whirlwind that trails him down the corridors of Parliament House. As his colleagues focus on the deterioration of manufacturing across the eastern seaboard or defend the union movement from another conservative advance, it is easy to dismiss his claims as hyperbolic.

Yet hyperbole it is not. Current rates of net migration are trending above historical levels, something demographic forecasters have had trouble with, making future projections almost impossible. In 2001, the Treasury in the first intergenerational report based its long-term net migration rate at 90,000 per year. A decade later in the third intergenerational report, this number had doubled to 180,000 per year, creating the magic 36m figure where public debate floundered on. As we await the next iteration of the intergenerational report, current net migration trends are hovering at about 240,000 per year. 36m is likely to become 38-40m.

Dastyari is right there is a secret about immigration policy. You’ll find very few politicians who will seriously discuss the issue. Unlike other economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, no politician has been able to explain to a sceptical public how and why a bipartisan consensus exists on the wholesale reform immigration policy has undertaken in the past two decades. This starts with a simple yet somewhat uncomfortable truth: with economic growth, comes immigration growth.

Historically, the federal government picked the number of immigrants to enter Australia every year. This was loosely based on the unemployment rate and strength of the economy. These migrants were provided permanent visas, as the vast majority settled in Australia, a concept in direct contrast to many European countries, where temporary migration was the norm.

Two major policy changes in the 1990s transformed Australia’s immigration framework.

These were the introduction and expansion of temporary visa programs such as 457, student and working holiday visas and the shift away from family reunion towards skilled migration. Bipartisan in nature, there has not been a set of policy changes in the past two decades designed specifically to limit migration in any way whatsoever.

Taken together, these reforms lay the foundation of a ‘demand-driven’ immigration system where demand from the labour market and universities largely determines the number of people who immigrate to Australia. Like interest and exchange rates, immigration has changed from a policy wholly determined by government to one where the market plays the dominant role.

This has not removed government agency from immigration policy. Governments establish boundaries through various program settings but cannot determine the exact number of immigrants who come to Australia each year. Economic growth, such as the much touted 23 years without a recession, will bring more people. This is why the past decade has seen such large increases in population projections.

I ask Bob Carr how he would see a lower rate of population growth. He calls for the government to lower the level of permanent visas in the annual budget process. But he doesn’t touch on the policy settings behind student, 457 or working holiday visas, all of which are increasingly doing the legwork on population growth. These are complex programs now interwoven in our labour market, higher education sector and foreign relationships, arising in the last two decades without the accompanying percolating public discussion akin to how we discuss home loans.

We do not understand immigration as a market driven institution but this is exactly what it is. By constantly relying on politicians to set a limit without acknowledging the policy transformation, we are poorer in our understanding.

Elsewhere in Parliament, particularly with the loss of Bob Carr, you find the very same support for immigration and a larger population. Andrew Laming, a Harvard-educated, beer-swilling, Liberal MP represents the electorate of Bowman, a suburban seat in Brisbane’s east.

“On population growth I regard myself of supporter of what we are currently doing. I’m very comfortable with the current growth and wouldn’t dream of any slower.”

From different sides of the political divide, Dastyari and Laming represent the dominant view in Canberra on population.  This bipartisanship emerged as Australia’s period of economic sunshine began in the 1990s. Dastyari calls this “a secret political consensus” on immigration and population, a journey where the public have been left behind.

Those outside this consensus who advocate for a lower rate of immigration, such as former Premier and Foreign Minister Bob Carr, agree with Dastyari’s central point – how difficult it is to talk about Australia’s population. Says Carr:

“Governments in Canberra have traditionally assumed they can ramp up immigration without any accountability and whenever it surfaces as an issue, I’m struck by the fact that Australian’s have made it pretty clear they don’t accept the simple arguments for a bigger Australia”.

I ask Dastyari if this is simply because no one talks about population or if there is something deeper, a wariness of what this conversation might unearth.

“No-one likes change. People are comfortable and change is an unknown. Historically there has been this sense of the Australian psyche which is wrong, that we are this lucky country with this amazing land of prosperity and peace and someone is going to come and take it away from us.”

Bob Carr on the other hand sees the delineation of federal and state jurisdictions as an important factor. He mentions the oft-cited call by federal governments for an infrastructure response to immigration as not being borne out historically.

“I’ve never seen a federal government – Liberal or Labor – make a serious commitment to the nations cities since the era of Whitlam. No subsequent prime minister has shown any commitment to the quality of urban life”.

These are sharp words for his own side, as the ALP oversaw six years of strong population growth from 2007-2013.

Peter Lewis is a director with Essential Media Communication and has tracked public opinion on population.

“Our leaders don’t want a debate about population, they know they can’t win on a ‘big Australia’. Instead they allow immigration to quietly increase while creating panics around specific groups. The slogan trumps the big issue.”

Lewis’ comments about an inability to win a ‘big Australia’ debate are concerning given Bob Carr is hardly inventing what is a genuine public concern about population.

Following the 2010 election campaign, 47 per cent thought there were too many migrants arriving. This tapered off to 42 per cent last year but remains in the top handful of issues raised by voters after the traditional staples of the economy, health and education.

This entrenched gulf between the public and the political class is dangerous. The result is tokenistic urban planning frameworks across capital cities, devoid of vision and detached from reality.

Exhibit A is Infrastructure Australia’s National Priority List. The largest ‘transforming our cities’ project – the Melbourne Metro – is classified as “only not ready to proceed due to a small number of outstanding issues” despite the fact Premier Napthine has likened the Metro plan for Swanston St akin to the Berlin Wall. There is a lack of transformative infrastructure projects simply awaiting approval.

This even extends to where we live. The Grattan Institute has found Australians have strongly divergent preferences about the housing we live in now as opposed to the housing we want to live in. Something is not quite right.

This is where the politics of population crashes up against a brutal reality about sustainability. Policy and discussion are kept in the backroom instead of the front page. Peter Lewis believes politicians have convinced themselves this debate is ‘unwinnable’ because of a reliance on focus groups.

“It’s not impossible. When people think this is simply a choice between development and no development they opt for the status quo. But when you tell them the population will grow, regardless of who is in power, they accept this and are prepared to engage in a debate about what sort of development we should have.”

We now have a sustainable in name, market driven by nature immigration policy that will push Australia’s population past 36m by 2050.

The 20th century lifestyle celebrated in the Olympics by our love for traditional quarter acre is already in the rear view mirror.

The question is not how many people but what does this mean for Australia? The social and economic impacts on Australia are lost in the debate over the headline figure.

(See Part Two here)

The emerging population* debate (read immigration): a response to Nicholas Stuart

Nicholas Stuart had an op-ed in the Canberra Times this week arguing against a bigger Australia.

His argument is with Michael Fullilove, Director of the Lowy Institute, for his speech on ‘A Larger Australia’. I disagree with bits and pieces of Fullilove’s means, but on population, come down at the same end. However it is pleasing to see an emerging debate on this issue outside the confines of a federal election.

In familiar op-ed style, Stuart situates his argument within either/or:

Now this is one of those fundamental ideological positions you either hold, or you don’t. Intellectual arguments don’t seem to make much impression on those in favour or those against the idea that we can be “bigger”, and this is really a debate about population size.

I don’t believe this to be true and wonder if Stuart actually holds this belief, what is the purpose of his op-ed in the first place?

Stuart has three main arguments against a bigger Australia.

The first is to focus on infrastructure and the public cost of this provision. It’s an important point. More people require more stuff. Yet this only focuses on the demand migrants place on government and ignores the contribution from migrants. Most economic work on most developed economies shows the effect of immigration hovers around neutral. In Australia, we err on the side of positive because of the high-skilled nature of our immigration framework. Benign but limited as termed by the Productivity Commission in 2006. Therefore for Stuart to ignore the contribution of migrants to governments in the provision of public infrastructure is poor form. Yes, more schools and roads cost money. Thankfully migrants pay taxes too. His lament that “in the long run only a few benefit” is akin to claiming the only winners in the AFL last season were Hawthorn. While Melbourne may not have had a great year on the field, hundreds of people have good jobs because of the club and thousands more supporters gain enjoyment from participating. There is a good argument to be had about infrastructure in Australia, but blame state and federal governments as opposed to migrants.

Perhaps the most egregious part of his argument is his second point. Stuart co-opts Gina Rinehart as his main antagonist. This is despite the fact he goes to great lengths to explain one is not racist or anti-development to believe in a stable, low-growth population. In the same vein, one does not need to believe Gina Rinehart’s $2/day nonsense to believe in a larger Australia. Stuart is incorrect to state a big Australia means lower living standards. There is little proof to his claim. Australia today is the most populous and near to the richest we’ve ever been. This does not prove migrants are the individual equivalent of economic stimulus packages, but it does mean you require some evidence when you categorically state having more Aussies “simply means lower standards of living”. Stuart is dishonest by conflating Rinehart’s push for outlandish policy with the bigger Australia argument and the spectre of lower living standards. Even the most pessimistic takes on the impact on immigration see only very minimal impact on living standards (Borjas etc) while in Australia, the effects are generally small and positive (See Productivity Commission 2006).

Stuart’s last argument is the environment. “It’s fragile. Despite last week’s deluge, the rain isn’t coming when or where we want it. The soil is thin and old. There are limits”. All of this is true, but none of it precludes more people.

Finally, Stuart says:

There is another model. This week I’m in Sweden. In the 1600s this was a mighty power. Today it’s just a pleasant country; but I don’t think it’s lost anything in the transition.

Here is what Sweden has lost: the opportunity to take as many people possible on its journey to massive wealth. A nation is mostly a collection of the people within it. While Stuart laments our slide down the happiness and wellbeing measures (of course, Australia sits 2nd while Sweden sits 8th on the Human Development Index), since 1946 Australia has been busy integrating many people into high paying jobs, world class education and cultural exchange opportunities. Further, Sweden itself has run a pretty large immigration program over the past decade (just not for the past 400 years), something he would find if he ventured into the Stockholm suburbs in the south.

I think I understand the fear about more people from an environmental and economic point of view. There is a risk standards of living will fall with more people. Personally, I see this risk as much smaller than the risk of population stability in terms of wellbeing. In relation to the environment, unlike climate change, the issues of population are second order and based on tradition (i.e., water policy in Australia) rather than best practice*.

Stuart’s piece is more thoughtful (and pleasant) than the standard stable population writing that is spewed onto the internet by a small handful of excitable activists. However it contains many more questions than answers. I should note, I generally enjoy Stuart’s column in the Canberra Times as he explores matters at the margins as opposed to the general op-ed industrial complex which has arisen.

Other takes: Andrew Leigh has a more “factual” take on the population debate here, where he comes down on the side of more people (but only just it seems). Richard Tsukamasa Green has a different take to Fullilove here but supports a bigger population.

* Of course acknowledging people coming from low carbon economics to Australia increase Australia’s net carbon emissions. This is not an argument against immigration but for rigorous climate change policies.

Interview outtakes (II): Sam Dastyari on bipartisanship, immigration and the public

I’ve been interviewing a range of public figures about immigration, population and multiculturalism, amongst other topics. However its impossible to squeeze everything said into written form so I’m posting bits and pieces here which I found interesting in one way or another. Earlier this week was Andrew Leigh on immigration, unions and the labour market.

Below is from Sam Dastyari, on the question of bipartisanship on immigration:

“Broadly the idea of migrant intakes has been bipartisan. But the Australian public haven’t been brought in on that journey. It is almost as if it’s a secret that has been kept from them.

The danger is, as we are going to have to make some tough choices around things like transport and housing, at what point do we turn around and say there is a housing crisis in Sydney and we are going to be increasing the population? How do we increase density in the inner city?

There is a huge federal government role in this and no-one is having this discussion. This is not a sexy thing to talk about about the moment but this will be the big issue.”

Dastyari spoke about these issues in his maiden speech which I wrote about here. He has been vocal on the need for politicians to talk about population more. This is a fascinating topic, as there certain appears to be a level of bipartisanship on population that is not apparent on other issues yet you rarely hear about it. The federal-state dynamic between migration and infrastructure is horribly under-explored in policy circles, which in a period of high population growth is probably sub-optimum.

I’ll post links to more of his comments exploring the intersection of population, immigration and asylum when I’ve found the appropriate place to publish.

Paul Sabin on EconTalk

Paul Sabin, author of The Bet, was the guest of last week’s EconTalk podcast (transcript and audio).

I haven’t read the book as yet but the topic fascinates me; how people can be so divergent on issues, in this case, population and resource consumption and where this difference comes from. Here is my favourite Q&A from the podcast, with the most important take away at the end:

“How did Ehrlich and Simon’s values differ? They did differ. They weren’t just disagreeing about whether markets worked well or not.”

“Well, I think that one difference had to do with how they thought about people and their role on the planet. And I think that Ehrlich has tended to have a view of humans as one of many creatures on earth and we have a claim to the resources of the earth but not the only claim, maybe. And he has a value of how to live on the planet that was one of greater balance, a harmony, or humility on the part of humans; that we would take maybe a lesser claim, that there would be more space for other creatures to be living. I think Simon’s view was really about: people first. That the goal of society was to be able to support a larger number of people on the planet and that the measure of the success of society could be taken in the numbers of people who were able to live productive lives. And so he often would say that, for him, if he had to choose between the claims of nature, other creatures, and the claims of people, he would favor the claims of people. And so I think that’s a very interesting question that there’s not a right answer. These are ethical questions that are subject to debate and different values.”

Social Cohesion – Australia and the World

The sixth Scanlon Foundation “Mapping Social Cohesion” report was released last week. A slew of articles were published (Julia Baird, David Marr and John Masanaukas with good coverage in the Herald Sun were amongst the better ones). The report is thoughtful and considered, as was the coverage.

The trend of social cohesion in Australia is undoubtedly one where generally positive attitudes are slowly changing, becoming more complex. The five measured domains – belonging, worth, social justice, participation and acceptance and rejection – were all below the 2007 benchmark level, meaning the Index of Social Cohesion recorded its lowest level to date. This informed all of the coverage, where the negative shift of social attitudes was emphasised. This is completely understandable and a very important concept for public discussion.

However I feel this is a small case of missing the forrest for the trees. Professor Markus says compared to international standards, “Australia remains highly cohesive”, where “life in Australia continues to satisfy the new arrivals”. Too often this is overlooked, where our success at building a cohesive society is diminished. A quick peek overseas should act as a good reminder.

Lets start with the share of migrants in Australia. In an oft-quoted figure, about 1 in 4 Australians are born overseas, and 1 in 2 having at least one parent born overseas. Perhaps this isn’t impressive anymore. It should be:

Migrants as a proportion of population

(Source: OECD)

Amongst rich, developed countries with sizeable populations, Australia is unique. While the U.S. is the traditional home of the immigrant dream, Australia is a much better reflection of that reality. This underscores social cohesion, as people mingle economically, socially and culturally. This is the core of multiculturalism in Australia and while the rest of the world struggle with what this means for society, we only struggle with what the word means. As the Scanlon Report says, multiculturalism is now accepted across society.

Next, the labour market:

Migrants and Natives: Unemployment

(Source: International Migration Outlook 2013, OECD)

This shows the difference in unemployment between migrants and domestic born populations for OECD countries. Australia is in the sweet spot, with basically no difference in unemployment between the two groups. Differences can appear, i.e. 6.7% of migrants were unemployed in 2009 compared to 5.3% of Australian-born, yet they tend to smooth out quickly. This is not the case for other developed countries. Migrants struggle in many labour markets, stifling integration into society and damaging social cohesion. This isn’t a perfect picture. Despite some recent convergence, participation rates, especially for women, tend to be lower for migrants than Australian-born.

These labour market results are one of the foundations of strong social cohesion in Australia. A job is important for a host of individual reasons but also for social integration. Having a job helps prevent geographic migrant clustering (“migrant ghettos”). It also prevents migrants acting as a fiscal drag. While you will occasionally read fluff pieces about migrants addicted to welfare or simply coming to Australia for the public benefits, it’s completely incorrect.

migrants and natives: fiscal contribution

This shows the different fiscal contribution of migrant and domestic households. Basically, how do migrants contribute to the budget? Those big blue lines on the left indicate countries where there is a substantial gap between migrants contribution and domestic contributions. Australia doesn’t have a blue line, either negative or positive, meaning migrant and Australian-born households have the same fiscal contribution.

These differences come back to the labour market, and are due to a range of factors, including Australia’s two decade plus journey towards prioritising skilled migration. Family migration and asylum seekers, which are much more prominent in Europe, tend to contribute less to government budgets than domestic-born households. This happens in Australia as well, but is offset by the large proportion of skilled migrants. I believe this has a strong impact on social cohesion, as people don’t associate migrants with the dole in Australia, preventing negative sentiment from escalating. Again, this doesn’t mean things are perfect. If migrant and Australian-born employment rates were equal, the budget would improve by ~0.5%, the fourth largest gain in the OECD.

I don’t mean to ignore the changing trends of Australian attitudes to social cohesion and immigration. There is a shift, and its negative since 2007. However, social cohesion in Australia relative to the rest of the world is unprecedented. Much like how the Australian economy has softened since the GFC, it remains the envy of the developed world. This is despite the vitriol of Hansonism, the fall out from the Tampa and the Cronulla riots. These negatives have failed to rapidly change social cohesion in Australia, which remains strong. This is important to recognise as it demonstrates what has worked in the past.

Andrew Markus recognises this. The Scanlon surveys are a vital insight into Australian society and hopefully his research this year fulfils one of its central objectives, the provision of an early warning against threats to social cohesion, and creating a public environment to “foster informed debate on the challenges necessarily accompanying the maintenance of a successful large scale immigration program”.

Note: the OECD’s annual International Migration Outlook is an excellent document, with useful accompanying country summaries, here is Australia (.xls)

A ‘sustainable’ population

Disclosure: I am heavily pro-migration and in favour of a significantly larger Australian population.

In 2010, just in time for the Federal election, the Treasury released the third Intergenerational Report. What proceeded was a population ‘debate. With the forecast (not estimates) of approximately 180,000 more people arriving in Australia than leaving every year to 2050, Australia was on track for a population of 36 million. This number seemed to evoke a national hysteria. Two things stand out from this episode.

The first is the appointment of a new Population Minister did very little to change government policy about population over the proceeding three year period. The document ‘Sustainable Communities: A sustainable population strategy for Australia‘ is a blithe attempt to to satisfy a pre-election promise. Within are little gems such as this one;

Seriously this is the best we can do?

‘Foundations of wellbeing’… what does that mean?

This document is less a policy statement, more a motherhood statement about poorly defined terms such as sustainability and prosperity. This stuff is borderline deceitful given the unknowns in the debate. Can 20 million people live in Sydney? Technically possible but desirable? The six principles outlined on page 8 of the overview seem like glib attempts to satisfy everyone. I know this stuff is not easy but population was perhaps the most debated issue at the 2010 election and the official government response was not pretty reading.

If you want to read an actual policy document, the Committee for Economic Development Australia report released in 2012, ‘A Greater Australia‘, is a much better place to engage. I do not agree with everything in it yet the authors and editors are experts, informed and communicate in real words as opposed to bumbling rubbish. Graeme Hugo’s multiple contributions demonstrate the best of Australian academia. Topics covered include multiple chapters on the environment, the economy and infrastructure. Social attitudes and public opinion deservedly get included.

The second point is on reflection, the 2010 debate was just the beginning. The Treasury forecasts of 180,000 additional immigrants per year were based, like all forecasts, on past history and assumptions of future policy (note: these are not projections but ‘best guesses’).

Less than three years later we can see how difficult this concept is. The current Department of Immigration and Citizenship forecasts of net overseas migration currently average about 240,000 per year over the next four years. If this holds constant, 36 million will arrive well before 2050. Tables 1 and 2 in the above link are the crux of the issue. Immigration numbers came down to 180,000 in 2011 as predicted but they are now increasing again. I haven’t read a single well sourced story about this trend in the papers recently and I’m worried this is going to be some major surprise when it should be nothing of the sort. We get a million words of bluster after every RBA board meeting but somehow net overseas migration figures are less sexy. This is a shame.

Global economic forces and Australia’s position in the world are driving these migration trends. While Australian governments can and do tinker with immigration regulations, no government can institute an immigration framework that doesn’t account for the centrality of economics to the movement of people. To have this debate seriously, this needs to be acknowledged. A perfect example is Mexican immigration to the United States. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the estimated number Mexican citizens living illegally in the US increased to about 11 million. Yet since 2006, the number has stopped rising and now in decline. This is due both to Mexican economic growth and the economic slow down in the US.

Exploring the figures in Table 3 shows where this growth is expected. International students to double. Other temporary migration will hold constant (at historically high levels) while the increase in the refugee intake to 20,000 has also been factored. Regardless of your feelings on these distinct immigration programs, they are now central pillars in much more than just immigration. International students subsidise Australian higher education, in the process becoming a top three export industry. Skilled migrants increase Australia’s labour market participation. Working holiday makers prop up the agricultural industry with their labour. These are not good or bad, they just are and any discussion on reducing or increasing immigration must account for these complexities.

Table 3 of the DIAC document also shows just how difficult these assumptions are. What is going to happen to Australian citizens, both living here who travel and expats returning from overseas? What will happen with New Zealand citizens? The Department of Immigration expects that more Australians will leave while less New Zealanders will arrive than current figures show. Like all forecasts, these are only as good as their assumptions and in this case, I’d be wary anyone claiming a very specific number.

Population and immigration policy have an uneasy relationship with the Australian public. I have no idea what the answer is to this apparently conflict. At worst, we could have a proper debate instead of what Bernard Keane so aptly described as “I’m Spartacus” debate in July 2010 when the we last hit peak stupid. Yet how likely is a rational debate when 36 million by 2050 becomes 40 million+ in less than three years? Given our fascination with numbers – 36 million, 40 million, 50 million (!) – the emotion is soon captured by endless pictures of traffic jams and house prices.

The questions remain numerous. What is a big Australia? Is there a carrying capacity? How do different levels of government work together effectively on an issue as diverse as immigration and population? I don’t agree much with Peter Brent but his quip about high immigration levels being a ‘technocratic, not democratic, consensus’ seem accurate. Again, this isn’t simply a good thing or a bad thing. Many policies are not well supported by the public yet remain entrenched in our society (see deregulation particularly privatisation).

With the seeming emergence of increased populism in public debate, this is an area where leadership is perhaps required heavily than what we see currently. Perhaps Tony Burke is that man. While the aforementioned sustainable population stuff was highly disappointing, he seems technically smart and able to communicate well. After nearly 30 years of public education in economic concepts such as interest and exchange rates, the time has come for a complementary public conversation – immigration and population and what it means for 21st century Australia. I wish him all the best for the coming election campaign.