The rise of residence rights

One of the paradoxes of the Howard government was that while it was sometimes portrayed as anti-migrant, in reality it ended up with the most laissez-faire approach to migration since federation. Though the permanent migration program more than doubled in size between Howard’s first and last year, its highest level in 2007 wasn’t quite as big as it had been in Hawke’s peak migration year (1988), or for that matter in Rudd’s first year.

Rather, the most interesting thing about Howard’s policy was expanding migration via rule- rather than quota-based rights to long-term but temporary residence in Australia. Under a rule-based system, if you meet its criteria you can come to Australia, with no restrictions on total numbers. The quota system has criteria for admission, but once the target number of migrants is reached applicants are queued, even if they meet the criteria.

There were big increases in rule-based long-term visas for students and for people coming to Australia to work, the section 457 visas. A lot of people also came to Australia on working holiday visas.


Source: Immigration Department statistics

They were added to another more long-standing group of people with residence rights in Australia, New Zealanders. New Zealand is also a ‘back door’ route to permanent entry to Australia, with about 30% of the ‘New Zealanders’ taking up residence in Australia being born somewhere else.

Put all these rights-based migrants together, and there were about 1.2 million of them in mid-2009. Apart from the unions complaining about section 457 visa holders (or at least their employers), temporary migration has been below the political radar. But clearly a population this size has the potential to raise many issues.

12 Responses to “The rise of residence rights

  • 1
    conrad
    April 7th, 2010 04:36

    Looks like we should be blaming kiwis for congestion in our cities etc. :). More seriously, it would be interesting to know what NZ would look like if we didn’t let them come here en masse.

  • 2
    Son of the Ratpack
    April 7th, 2010 07:03

    Piggy Muldoon famously said that migration from NZ to Aus increased the average IQ of both countries.

    I don’t know if that is true, but in the absence of Kiwi immigration we would certainly have a shortage of night club and pub bouncers.

    The congestion issue is only an issue because migrants want to live in Sydney and Melbourne. If they and a few others could be persuaded to live in Adelaide or Rockhampton or Devonport or Orange, no one would bat an eye lid about how many migrants are arriving. I wonder also if the net migration figures in recent years have been affected by less emigration, as work opportunities in other countries have dried up.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    April 7th, 2010 07:40

    Emigration by both the Australian and foreign born continued to increase over 2006-07 to 2008-09 (totals up from 72,103 to 81, 018).

    However long-term but temporary resident departures did drop in 2009 from their usual about 100,000 a year to about 76,000. Residents returning was a bit up – 109,000 in 2007, 117,000 in 2009. This is consistent with a weakening labour market overseas.

  • 4
    Karl Kessel
    April 7th, 2010 07:46

    The rapid increase in migration appears to coincide with the dramatic increase in housing prices.

    There are no doubt other causes, but surely migration is a significant factor. With housing affordability becoming an issue you wonder how this will play out.

    Another question is how long increased migration via temprory migration can be used to run up prices and to build the economy. Perhaps this is a really nifty method that can be used for quite a few more years.

  • 5
    Baz (the ordinary Aussie)
    April 7th, 2010 12:59

    I wonder what was the catalyst for this post…hmmm.
    Agree its a lot of people….but these categories don’t phase me too much.
    Students (bona fide ones at least) typically spend their money and keep their heads down, section 457 don’t seem to rock the boat too much, back packers are needed for the fruit and the kiwis to be the butt of jokes (although the back door entry concerns a bit of a worry).
    But anyway, the key point is temporary. Any crimes, any worries, we can always ship them off if needs be. These groups aren’t the big worries.

  • 6
    M
    April 7th, 2010 13:38

    The issue with allowing unfettered access by Kiwi’s is that our immigration targets and policies are then not the only system and we have little to no control. 30% of them are born somewhere else! Do we want our PR visa factories out-sourced to NZ? I’m only half-kidding.

    Is there any big picture implications for having a large population of non-permanent residents? Or are half a million to a million people actually not a lot?

    What is the difference in rights between those with citizenship, PR, long temporary residence and short temporary residence?

  • 7
    Son of the Ratpack
    April 7th, 2010 13:42

    “the kiwis to be the butt of jokes (although the back door entry concerns a bit of a worry).”

    For example, juxtaposing “butt”and “back door entry” in the same sentence.

  • 8
    Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » Some implications of a large temporary population
    April 7th, 2010 19:14

    […] « The rise of residence rights […]

  • 9
    Michael "Lorenzo" Warby
    April 8th, 2010 20:02

    High population growth, no new dams and strict regulatory rationing of land for housing. What a wonderful policy combination.

  • 10
    Stuart
    April 9th, 2010 07:31

    In some respects the issue is not so much the numbers (although it would be good to see a narrowing of the back door alleyways, including the ‘education’ rort system) but the cultural mix that will inevitably see the demise of Australian peace as our freedoms are abused by expansionist regimes.

  • 11
    The open door through which one in 20 Australians came « Immigration Watch International
    April 11th, 2010 07:40

    […] Put all these rights-based migrants together, and there were about 1.2 million of them in mid-2009. […]

  • 12
    Michelle
    April 11th, 2010 18:53

    You ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to residence rights. Here is the fallout from Rudd’s proposed Asia-Pacific Union:

    “Using the very crude equivalent measure of Poles moving to the UK after its accession to the EU with these figures, an EU-type organisation that included Australia and these three Asian countries (leaving aside all the other proposed members) would see a migration to Australia of about 21.256 million people.”
    http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=7488

    20 million Asians moving here? Yep. That’s why Rudd skirts the population debate. Surely Rudd isn’t that mad? Surely he doesn’t want a fully open-borders union with Asia? Well, he hasn’t ruled it out, and all the talk so far is BIG. Rudd forewarned of such big thinking when he announced his Asia Pacific Community: “In the 1950s, sceptics saw European integration as unrealistic. But most people would now agree that the goal of the visionaries in Europe … has been achieved. It is that spirit we need to capture in our hemisphere. Our special challenge is that we face a region with greater diversity … But that should not stop us from thinking big…”
    http://www.asiasociety.org.au/speeches/speeches_current/s55_PM_Rudd_AD2008.html

    And Rudd continued the big talk: “I actually believe in a big Australia I make no apology for that” and “I actually think it’s good news that our population is growing. I think it is good for us, it’s good for our national security long term” and “good for our national security, good for our longterm prosperity, good in enhancing our role in the region and the world”.

    Those last words are the key to understanding Rudd-Labor: “enhancing our role in the region and the world”. It’s wrong to view Rudd-Labor through the prism of nationalism. They are card-carrying globalists who want to dissolve Australia into Asia. They’ve got a bad case of the Ban Ki-Moons: “This is, after all, an era of integration. Regional integration is taking place all over the world”. That’s why Rudd wants a big population but never says why, why he doesn’t care about the comparatively piddly number of boat people, why immigration and foreign students are at record high levels under Rudd, why he relaxed foreign owership laws, why he wants to diversify the military, why he awards the Indonesian PM an award of Australia, why he is allowing foreign lawyers to work here without local qualifications, etc. It’s all to move us towards assimilation with Asia.

    Wake up and smell the coffee folks, Rudd-Labor think that, just like the EU, Asia can become one borderless superstate. And John Howard has the hide to say that Rudd has done nothing. Rudd is proving to be the most radical prime minister Australia has ever seen. Sure, I can’t see China and Japan opening their borders to foreigners, but I can see Rudd martyring our borders as a sign of good will, a starting point for regionalisation, a gesture. Rudd-Labor are mad ideologues who will wreck Australia in the name of some misguided notion of “imagine no countries”. Sounds good in a pop song, but in reality it is a nightmare. They are barking mad.

    Rudd said we should “catch the spirit” of the EU. Well, the rising spirit in the EU is a wave of resurgent protectionist parties (anti-EU, anti-immigration, anti-Islamic, etc) e.g. Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom Party, Italy’s Lega Nord, The Swiss People’s Party, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, The Danish People’s Party, the Austrian Freedom Party, the UK Independence Party, the BNP, etc. Rudd-Labor are card-carrying globalists, deeply indoctrinated, and cannot help themselves – and the Liberals are not much better. If you want population control then get behind such protectionist parties here in Oz e.g. Dick Smith’s Stable Population Party or The Australian Protectionist Party.

    Rudd heralded his Asian Union with: “The purpose is to encourage the development of a genuine and comprehensive sense of community whose habitual operating principle is co-operation”. Comprehensive, habitual: these unlimited terms show Rudd’s true colours i.e. he’s got a bad case of Ban Ki-Moon’s one-world borderless groupthink. Co-operation is usually a means to an end, yet these fools make it an end in itself – which means the end of independent and critical thought, and hello big brother.

    Rudd sees himself as both lion tamer of China and shepherd of redneck Australia – with the aim of uniting us together in the ‘utopia’ of open-borders. Both sides are, of course, horrified at the thought. Rudd’s alarming disconnect with the sensitivities of ordinary folk regarding identity and social cohesion illustrates how far gone he is with ideology. Rudd maintains the facade of nationalism to prevent scaring his redneck flock, so expect him to pretend to be concerned about population whilst continuing the drift towards open-borders. That’s the mark of a mad ideologue: pushing ahead when all the warning signs scream ’stop!’.