Posted by: scribe9 | August 18, 2010

Immigration blues

Australia and New Zealand were both set to double in population (to 36 and 8 million, respectively) but now many are saying that’s not such a good idea.  Most of the growth would be in the cities, which are already terribly congested–the thought of Auckland with another two or three million people on its road system is not pretty.

Both countries are also finding it difficult to deal with environmental degradation. Australia also has had several years of drought. If memory serves, Jared Diamond pointed out several years ago in  Collapse  that Australia’s carrying capacity was only about 10 million people.

Australia’s also dealing with of boat people coming from all over the Indian Ocean, including several hundred from Afghanistan. The current prime minister plans to start an off-shore center for assessing refugee status. We’ll see whether she stays in office past this weekend’s election; the opposition wants to take a firmer line. It’s not that boat people are a big part of migration–Australia allows 300,000 legal immigrants a year–but the government wants to put people-smugglers out of business.

In New Zealand, some of the opposition to migrants comes from the New Zealand First Party, started by a Maori. Maoris are understandably not keen on becoming an ever-smaller part of the population. Unfortunately, New Zealand needs to make up for its losses of young people to greener pastures elsewhere by bringing in foreigners. It’s fairly restrictive on who’s allowed in; one must have training in a profession that’s not considered full. For some reason, lots of physiotherapists from Northern Island have come recently. We consider ourselves lucky that NZ allows internal medicine docs to practice here for brief periods.

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