Friday, March 4, 2011

A Migration Agent's View -- Part 2

The posting "A Migration Agent's View -- a rare spot of mirth etc"  has produced an interesting trail of correspondence on another website.

This began with my posting a short reply on Grant Williams's blog-site to his attack on Kelvin Thomson. I wrote

Upton Sinclair once said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
For a critical review of the rather convenient biases in this “review” of Kelvin Thomson’s views, see my “A Migration Agent’s view — A rare spot of mirth in the population debate” at

Grant Williams then wrote a fairly civil reply (showing that his views had some flexibility, and making the case for the poor employers who can't find people to work for them, or at least not at the wages they offer)  ---to which I replied. Then a more emotional person called Team Oyeniyi cut in. I replied once but found her second piece too incoherent to deserve reply.

Here's the sequence up to then.
  • immigrationptyltd
    Wow Mark that’s an angry response and I’m sorry I’ve upset you with my view from ‘within’ the migration advice industry. I must say I’m saddened that you seek to denigrate me and to sink to sarcasm in your desire to point out what you see as my bias and failings. I’m also saddened that you feel you are the only one who can see a bigger picture or possibly think a step or two beyond the source of their income.
    Mark I deal every day with Australian businesses who genuinely find it very difficult, despite their best efforts using all available labour market tools and systems to find staff to meet their immediate needs. I’m all for training and retraining Australians who are out of work but no one can contend that this is an instant process, training takes time, often years not weeks in specialised fields. So what’s your suggestion to the businesses that can’t find the appropriate staff member(s) to enable them to continue in business employing many thousands of Australians? Tough. Wait till me retain someone. This is not commercial reality.
    I have not said that the only solution is migrants (these are your words put into my mouth) but I am keen to know what you see as the realistic real-time alternatives for the business sector.
    Migration is at an all time high the figures speak for themselves. Again the best you have to offer here is sarcasm and ridicule. There are studies that show that migration has had positive economic impact and there are studies that show a neutral outcome and some that show negative impacts. Like most attempts to apportion outcomes to social and economic policies they are all flawed and built on masses of assumptions and people cherry pick them to help make their point. I’m not making any claims for any point here. My point is that the submission in question has taken only one side and ignored the other studies completely.
    You have intentionally misunderstood my point on population growth rates. Please note the word is ‘growth’ as in ‘rate of growth’ – getting bigger. My point, as you well know, despite again more sarcasm, is that the trend for the rate of growth over the period I quote is down. This is not a measure of the absolute number of people, as you seem to suggest with your total population figures.
    You say that I have not offered not a jot of evidence for my own claims. What claims would those be Mark? My response is not about claims for anything it is about the process used to generate Kelvin Thomson’s views, and sources he uses and getting the facts straight. I’m happy to show you the factual errors there in but beyond that I make no claims, that would seem to be your area.
    I have not forgotten about the abuses to which you refer in fact I’ve been involved in uncovering them, reporting them and encouraging DIAC to respond to them within the scope of their powers and the law.
    If you choose to think that I’m doing all this to protect my patch, go ahead I doubt I’ll ever convince you to the contrary.

  • Grant,
    I’m sure you do see yourself as a reasonable person, but your response to Kelvin Thomson’s careful documentation of the costs of population growth was the response of someone whose prejudices have been offended.
    You admit in your reply that “Migration is now at an all time high. The figures speak for themselves.” Yet you attacked Kelvin Thomson for suggesting as much, called him a demogogue and a distorter of the truth, and claimed the facts were transparently on your side: “If we look at Australia’s population growth over a reasonable period say 1950 to today we see that it changes year by year (that’s to be expected) but the trend is unremittingly down not up. ” And no I don’t think you can argue that your readers should have known you intended “trend” to refer to the second differential — i.e. not the size of our population, or even the rate at which it is changing (steeply upward), but the rate of change in the rate of change itself. It’s an old trick in statistical arguments, when you can’t deny that something is big and getting bigger to find a second or even a third differential that is in fact negative. But in fact even this rate of change in the rate of growth of population has itself been upwards, not “unremittingly down” , over most of the last decade.
    And why on Earth do you claim “I have not said that the only solution is migrants (these are your words put into my mouth) ” when that claim is right there in the 4th item on your side-bar. For instance: ” We have a number of huge resource projects kicking off that will require many tens of thousands of skilled workers we just don’t have in the labour force.”
    Your pity for employers who can’t get staff when they need them seems a bit selective. What about some pity for the young Australians who can’t get into the workforce? (No doubt you expect the taxpayer to cover their social security payments, but who pays for the social and psychologicial costs? ) Sure business would like a reserve of skilled motivated out-of-work people to select from at will, just as workers would like a choice of bosses and of jobs to select from. Wouldn’t you?
    True, business can be a brutal environment. Market forces have to rule, and if your business plan doesn’t in fact provide the profitability to pay the going rate for the kind of labor you require, you go to the wall. That can be heartbreaking, but less so than the situation of those who can’t find work on any terms. I suggest you take a look at Mark Cromer’s truly moving account of the harm done to ordinary workers in the USA now that employers have won the lobby battle for the endless cheap immigrant labour they wanted — It’s at and it should shame you out of such selective pity for the employers.

  • Let’s try listening to the people, Mark. Like I do. The real people. The taxi driver who took me to the airport is hamstrung on a bridging visa. He has been hamstrung for two years already. His future career is being placed at risk because our government can not do things in a TIMELY, EFFICIENT and RESPONSIBLE manner. He can’t get an entry level job in his profession and start gaining skills and experience because he isn’t a permanent resident.
    He says he doesn’t care what the decision is, just give him a decision so he can get on with his life. He can go eslewhere and at least start his career. The longer we hold him here in limbo, the more we are sacrificing his life.
    So why stay, you ask? Because he has now invested so much time in Australia, he feels he should wait a little longer for the decision. He has made friends here. THis has become his home. Yet we can’t give him an answer. But when should he pull the pin? How long does he wait? What are the psychological costs to this lovely young man?
    I know the effects personally of “the system” and the system needs to be changed. I am not entering into the debate about skilled migrants and whether we need them or not – but the system as it is stinks, quite frankly. YEARS go by. Some young people are single when they originally apply off-shore and a condition is they must enter Australia single if granted the visa. They wait so long they give up. Life goes on, they get married and have a child. THREE years later they are called to provide the final information. This is not acceptable.

  • That last posting is not relevant to my comments Oyeniyi.
    Your opening “Let’s try listening to the people, Mark. Like I do. The real people.” is what’s known as a false transition. (Apart from being a bit of dubious rhetoric, too.)

  • However, if you’re desperate for an argument (like the man in the Monty Python sketch) — here’s one.

  • Inasmuch as you appear to be saying the solution is to just let people in, you need to remember how very expensive that is. Each new person born or admitted into Australia requires about $200,000 of infrastructure from the taxpayer –that’s by conventional rule of thumb, though Will Bourke has published a credible argument that it may be as much as twice that. See Remember, that’s quite apart from what an immigrant may require in settlement services, social security, etc. Just the infrastructure cost. And that infrastructure needs to be already there before they arrive, otherwise we all suffer.
    As Jane O’Sullivan of University of Queensland points out, when population growth reaches 2% a year (as it did recently) , the infrastructure cost (even on the lower figure of $200,000) surpasses what any government can hope to raise, and infrastructure begins to go downhill fast — e.g. traffic jams,over-stretched trains…. (Take a look on your next taxi ride.) And, No, it isn’t just a matter of trying harder. See Http://

  • I wonder how many migration agents remind their clients that immigration to another country is a privilege not a right, and tell them just how much generosity they are asking from the Australian taxpayer.
  • 1 comment:

    1. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader

      and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.
      Australian Immigration Agents