Immigration to Australia and housing - a Catch-22
As soon as a new Federal Budget hits the ground the opposition begins to tear it apart, this is inevitable, and the media also picks up on the outcomes.
Current leader of the opposition Peter Dutton, the minister responsible for home affairs in the previous Liberal government has chosen to focus on immigration to attack the new budget saying that it is irresponsible to allow more migration as housing is scarce.
However, this surge of overseas migration which is forecast to be around 400,000 is part of a catch-up from the catastrophic drop that happened due to the COVID pandemic. According to the budget papers the pandemic “resulted in the first net outflow of overseas migration from Australia since World War II”.
Mr Dutton also surmised that net migration was projected to increase massively over the next five years at around 1.5 million and it would add to inflation and cost of living increases.
Prime Minister Albanese reminded the opposition that it had in fact backed raising the permanent migration cap during the skills summit held in September. Mr Albanese also reiterated that net migration was less than that projected before COVID forced border closures.
This week's budget scaled down projections over Australia's population, which it forecast to be 700,000 people less than the population anticipated in 2019.
But the problem is that Australia did not build enough homes in the 15 years of immigration leading up to the pandemic. Now the situation may deteriorate more as construction levels are falling at the same time as Australia will experience a population growth of between 400,000 and 500,000 people a year.
Australia is not the only country that has faced this situation and a number of others have worked out ways to manage the situation for example the UK and Singapore – a country with a substantial set of problems due to its small size but large population. As a measure of comparison in Singapore there are 8358 people per square kilometre in Australia it’s just 3.5 people per square kilometre.
In Australia these issues have led to a catch-22 situation as Australia needs more workers across industries but needs more housing just for its current workforce but even in the short term without increased migration the country cannot move forward.