November 3rd 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY What religious freedoms does the Government propose removing?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Regions are in no state to accommodate immigrants

CANBERRA OBSERVED Wentworth swing least of Morrison's worries

CLIMATE CHANGE Good science contradicts IPCC's two-degree panic

GENDER POLITICS Inquiry needed into why so many kids are identifying as transgender

LIFE ISSUES Truth the first casualty of Victorian bubble-zone law

LIFE ISSUES Culture of death lands killer blow on Queensland

FOREIGN AFFAIRS High stakes in U.S. midterm elections

FREE SPEECH Are university chiefs growing backbones?

HISTORY Chicago: City of the Big Shoulders


EUTHANASIA Making death easier makes life harder


MUSIC Recipe for groove: pulse is best sign of life

CINEMA First Man; Ladies in Black; Bad Times at the El Royale

BOOK REVIEW FDR's bad example from Depression era

BOOK REVIEW Cartoon hero puts it in black and white



VICTORIAN ELECTION The left gets ready to scream 'haters'

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Regions are in no state to accommodate immigrants

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, November 3, 2018

With 85.7 per cent of Aust­ralia’s 2.3 million immigrants between 2006–16 choosing to live in the capital cities, the Federal Coalition Government has flagged a population package to entice or force migrants to live in the regions to ease congestion and infrastructure deficiencies in the cities.

Minister for Population Alan Tudge has indicated that the Government plans to draw new migrants to the regions via such means as awarding additional points through the points-based skilled migration system to temporary visa holders if they move to a regional area or a capital city other than Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane for a period of five years. Detail, however, of the proposed policy is scant.

Decentralisation of the population is necessary not only to ease the squeeze in the biggest capital cities but also for the sake of the regions, which are being drained of their populations, affecting the social and economic wellbeing of these communities. However, any plan must deal with the need to create new jobs in the regions rather than just funnelling people there.

The Federal Government’s contention is that regional areas are in need of workers and migrants should be directed towards filling these vacancies. This might be the case in some regions, especially where there is seasonal work, but is evidently not the case in others. Regional unemployment rates vary markedly and youth unemployment is horrendous in many regions.

A Brotherhood of St Laurence report using Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment figures from January 2018 shows that 14 of the 20 worst areas for youth unemployment are in regional Australia. Youth unemployment rates range from 16.1 per cent in Shepparton, Victoria, to 67.1 per cent in outback Queensland. Conversely, 14 of the nation’s 20 regions with the lowest youth unemployment are in the capital cities, ranging from 5.8 per cent youth unemployment in Brisbane Inner City, to 9.5 per cent in Melbourne’s Inner South.

Clearly, many regional areas are not “crying out for more workers”, as Minister Tudge put it, but are suffering from a lack of investment in infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture, which can provide jobs in regional communities.

Federal and state government policies based on unscientific and extreme envi­ronmentalism have led to renewable energy targets forcing up power prices, mandatory “environmental” charges, the closure of coal-fired power stations and intermittent power supply.

The same ideology has resulted in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which has robbed farmers of their water allocations and flushed it down the river with no evident benefit to the environment. Since 1984 only one dam, Wyaralong in southeast Queensland, has been built to supply the capital cities. Australia added almost 10 million people to its population in that time.

If those governing us are serious about increasing our agricultural production and drought and flood-proofing our nation, new dams and large-scale irrigation projects are required.

The abolition of tariffs on manufactured and food items has led to the decimation of manufacturing and parts of the agricultural sector that cannot compete with cheap imported goods. Deregulation of the wheat, sugar, dairy and water sectors has also wrought havoc with farmers’ livelihoods as they struggle to compete on a world market, most of which is heavily subsidised. These have had the effect of forcing smaller farmers out to be replaced by corporate interests.

Prior to embarking on a journey of removing protections (subsidies) for Australian industries and farmers, the unemployment rate in Australia sat at 1 to 2 per cent and manufacturing contributed 29.7 per cent to gross domestic product. Now it contributes 6.5 per cent.

The overall unemployment rate now sits at 5 per cent, although the real rate is over 20 per cent once underemployment is taken into account.

The only party that has consistently opposed the destructive effect of free trade upon Australian jobs is Labour DLP (akathe Democratic Labour Party) and decentralisation is a key plank in its policy platform. Victorian secretary Stephen Campbell, responding to the Federal Government’s announcement of forcing new migrants into the regions, said the plan would not fix the problem of unemployment.

Mr Campbell maintains that, what usually happens after migrants spend a mandatory period of time in regional areas, is that they move to the city. Similarly, once short-term incentives for businesses to relocate to the regions expire, businesses relocate back to the city.

Mr Campbell said that incentives should be given to all Australians to move to or stay in the regions, not just incoming migrants, which creates its own problems in terms of a large cultural change in a short period of time in smaller population areas.

The way to do that, was through government backing of employee-ownership share programs or community- based cooperatives, he said. This could include no/low interest loans to make up the shortfall that the employees could not raise to buy out a business at threat of a takeover or offshoring.

In Italy, any company for sale must first, by law, be offered for sale to the employees. Adoption of this model here would allow employees to retain their jobs and directly benefit from the company, enabling that community to thrive as a result of the multiplier job effect of any large business.

Structural change is needed in Australia if manufacturing and business, especially in regional communities, is to have a viable future.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm