Immigration surge threatens 'terminal decline' of Australian living standards, economist warns

An economist warns of dire consequences as Australia faces record immigration levels and population growth.

Immigration surge threatens 'terminal decline' of Australian living standards, economist warns
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Australia is facing a surge in immigration that threatens to surpass previous records, causing significant concerns about living standards, according to economist Leith van Onselen.

Despite promises from the Albanese government to maintain sustainable immigration levels, recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggests otherwise.

Van Onselen, co-founder of MacroBusiness, highlighted the alarming trend on 2GB radio, stating:

“We smashed that out of the water and all it tells you is net overseas migration surged higher than its peak from mid last year and this 375,000 target is going to be absolutely obliterated.”

The ABS revealed a net increase of 55,330 migrants in January, marking the highest January intake on record and doubling the figures from the previous year. Van Onselen linked the population boom to a collapse in housing construction, exacerbating the rental crisis across the country. In New South Wales (NSW), the housing stock increased by only 44,000 while the population surged by 173,000, illustrating a significant mismatch.

NSW Premier Chris Minns raised concerns about the exorbitant housing costs driving many residents away, leading to severe consequences for community engagement and economic activity.

The housing crisis is further evidenced by record-low vacancy rates nationally, prompting makeshift tent cities to emerge, particularly in Brisbane.

Van Onselen attributed the crisis to the federal government’s immigration policy, calling for a reassessment of the approach to population growth. The issue extends beyond housing, affecting infrastructure and quality of life, with toll roads becoming ubiquitous in major cities like Sydney.

Former NSW Premier Bob Carr echoed these sentiments, criticising Australia's unsustainable immigration rates and their detrimental effects on existing residents.

Calls for action have intensified, with various stakeholders urging the government to address the root causes of the housing crisis rather than scapegoating migrants.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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