Housing, ankle bracelets and some other things that have very little to do with immigration

In order to understand Australia’s complicated psychological relationship with immigration, the first crucial cognitive step is to throw away the numbers.

The numbers are not helpful. Consider this: 96 per cent of Australians are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. That’s everybody apart from the 4 per cent of the population who date their occupancy back to pre-1788, at which point the total immigration rate to this island for many millennia had been a nice round number: zero.

That number is in the same ballpark as the proportion of Australians who agree that “immigrants are generally good for Australia’s economy”, according to Scanlon’s latest Mapping Australia’s Social Cohesion report.

Seems pretty straightforward, right?

A recently landed sentient alien might casually conclude (once, presumably, it had torn its 14 eyes briefly from the spectacle of American democracy stuffing itself into a Cheetos bag and got round to considering Australia) that immigration in this country should be a non-issue.

And it should be. But it isn’t, because that blanket approval of immigration disguises the pulse and seethe of specific issues that blow up from time to time, usually in periods of economic hardship, into which immigrants and refugees are disproportionately and eye-catchingly drawn.

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#Housing #ankle #bracelets #immigration

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