Active Thinking Topic 40 -  Migration is Destiny

Tuesday 13 September 2022, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: ZOOM online

Focus Questions

1. Since the origin of homo sapiens, people have always migrated. How is this century different?

2. Should Australia become "a big country"? If so, migration is the only way that it can happen. [Note: In Thor's lifetime, 1945-2022, Australia's population has already grown from 8 million to 24 million].

3. What has been your personal experience of in-country and/or international migration? Why did you make those moves? What did you gain or lose?

4. Countries like Australia and the United States have been created from modern-era mass migrations. (In 2020 29.1% of Australians were born overseas). In fact, now there are many countries increasingly like this (for example, Taiwan). Why does each generation in these migration waves mostly resist the arrival of the next migration wave? How many generations does it take to create a new national identity?

5. Education and prosperity correlate closely with short or long term migration. Sometimes it is a pull factor for basic opportunity. Sometimes it is a lifestyle exploration (e.g. tourism). What should be the limits on human movement, both inside and outside countries?

6. What should be Australia's policy towards refugees? Here is the scale of the problem: "At least 89.3 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 27.1 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and lack access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement. .. 1 in every 88 people on earth has been forced to flee" [UNHCR]

7. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Australia's skilled immigration policy? Highly educated people more and more are citizens of the world. Their services are fiercely competed for by nation states, including Australia.

8. What rights and obligations should Australian citizens retain in Australia when they work as expatriates overseas, sometimes for years. What intangible services are they providing for Australia? (About half a million+ of Australian ciitizens live overseas).

9. Suggest some needed reforms for Australian immigration policy & practice. Note: The current management of Australian immigration is (in 2022) in serious trouble. There are huge visa backlogs, and departmental morale is at rock bottom. In 2015 the Australian Federal Department of Immigration was merged with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

10. Most parts of the world have a grim history of forced population displacements. Historically this has often gone together with mass exterminations, even genocide. Few modern states have their original ethnic populations. What do you know about these earlier events? What are some present examples? Why are humans so predatory to their own species?


Extra Reading


Abul Rizvi [former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration] (August 23, 2022) "Immigration policy will be one of the most contentious issues at the forthcoming Jobs and Skills Summit". Brisbane Times @  [Thor, comment: recommended reading. This man knows his topic] [Quote: "In response to massive skill shortages, business groups such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will argue the skill stream of the migration program be increased to 200,000 a year – a level never delivered in Australian history ... The previous government’s decision to provide students with unlimited work rights pleased some business groups but trashed the reputation of Australia’s international education industry, attracted unscrupulous education providers who are essentially in the business of selling work visas not education, as well as increasing fraud in the student visa caseload and increased reliance on cheating to pass exams and assessments. ... Improving visa design and visa conditions will not be enough. The immigration function of the Department of Home Affairs is facing a massive cut announced in the March 2022 budget. Given the current state of government finances, addressing this cut will be a major challenge. ... Visa-processing officers have one of the lowest levels of morale in the public service. This is the legacy of their role being treated as second-class by the department’s leadership. ... Having been incorporated into an organisation where law enforcement is the dominant priority, the culture of many visa-processing staff has become one of spending inordinate amounts of time looking for petty reasons to refuse a visa rather than legal, efficient and transparent decision-making".]

Thor May (2014) "How Can We Treat Refugees Humanely? – An Australian Perspective". The Passionate Skeptic website @  [HTML, best on a big screen] OR  [PDF. This article has had 25,377 views on]

Thor May (2012) "The contest for Competence". The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "If some people don't break the rules sometimes, then a normal society will cease to function. Breaking the wrong rules for the wrong reasons is like breaking legs though. And if everyone breaks the rules, then a society will disintegrate. A paradox? Yes. See how this cake is baked..." ]

Mandarin Corner (2022) "The Alarming Decline in China's Birthrate". MC @  (42 minutes)[Thor, comment: Highly recommended. This is in interview format in Mandarin with English subtitles. The interviewee gives a brilliant account of China's population fluctuating between 10 million and 100 million for 1700 years (depending upon wars & natural disasters), then exploding to 1.4 billion, then in just the last 3 years going into steep decline as young women refuse to marry and give birth. These recent enormous transitions have correlated with the biggest rural to urban migration in human history, plus the rise of universal education, especially for women. This case study of human population change is repeating worldwide. and one of the engines which is driving huge migrations both inside countries and internationally]

Joshua Green (November 18, 2019) "How Often Do Americans Move, and Why?". Mymovingreview website @  [Quote: "Each year, tens of millions of people in the US relocate from their place of birth or current residence to another location within the same city, county, state, country or abroad. In fact, statistical data show that the average American moves once every 5 years"]. [Thor comment: Australians, like Americans, are also highly mobile. Australian international mobility is also extremely high]

UNHCR (2021) "How many refugees are there around the world?" UNHCR @  [Quote: "At least 89.3 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 27.1 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and lack access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement. .. 1 in every 88 people on earth has been forced to flee"]

Wikipedia (2020) "The Australian Diaspora" @ 

Rosie Lewis (August 30, 2022) "‘Guest worker society’ spurned by Andrew Giles". The Australian @  [Quote: "Immigration Minister Andrew Giles says Australia cannot afford to become a “guest worker ­society” as he recalibrates the ­migration system with a preference for permanent workers. ... Australia’s visa backlog is ­sitting at a little over 914,000, with one million applications waiting to be processed when Labor won the election. There are 330,000 people on bridging visas. The red tape preventing skilled migrants from taking up jobs in Australia will be a key focus of the jobs and skills summit".]

Paul Karp (31 August 2022) "Mass exodus: Australia faces loss of 600,000 people and skills recovery will be slow, Ceda says. Thinktank calls on government to streamline visas to address ‘Covid-induced drag’ on migration system". The Guardian @ 

Eden Gillespie and Ben Doherty (4 September 2022) "Only a matter of time before someone is killed in Australian immigration detention, detainees say - As average detention period blows out to a record 700 days, people inside say centres are rife with violence, drugs, and overcrowding". The Guardian @ 

Anthony Galloway (September 3, 2022) "Tens of thousands of international graduates to work in Australia longer". Brisbane Times @  [Quote: "Foreigners wanting to study nursing, engineering and IT will be the focus of the federal government’s plan to lure more overseas students to Australia... Select bachelor’s degree holders will be able to work for four years after graduating, up from two years .. All masters students will be able to work for five years, up from three years, and PhD graduates will be able to work for six years, up from four years. ... Just 16 per cent of international students stay on to work after their studies in Australia, compared to 27 per cent in Canada". ]



Migration is Destiny  (c) Thor May 2022

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