Fortress Australia

Is border closure the Brexit moment of Australia?

In 2016, the British people defied what the polls said and voted to leave the EU. A similar movement is brewing in Australia, in a different form.

Today, Business Insider reported,

Three out of four Australians want the international border to remain shut until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control worldwide, even if the nation achieves full vaccination, a new survey has found.

Make no mistake: the overwhelming majority of Australians want borders to be firmly shut

1. Unity across party lines

To make it even clearer, both Labor and Coalition voters are united in this issue:

Support for extended border closures was relatively even across party lines, with 78% of Coalition supporters backing the closure, compared with 71% of Labor voters.

2. Unity across age groups

Even the young and old are roughly united in this issue too:

Older Australians were significantly more likely to support the closure, with 80% of those aged over 50 backing the strategy, compared to 63% of those aged 18-34.

3. Unity across men and women

Men and women are united in this issue too:

Women were more likely to support the ongoing measure, with 78% supporting the brick wall approach compared to 69% of men.

4. Australians want borders to shut even in full vaccination

The most remarkable finding is that the majority of Australians want borders to shut even after the population is fully vaccinated.

This is in contrast to countries like the United Kingdom and the United States when they started to open their borders before their population is fully vaccinated.

This makes no sense at all. After all, if the population is fully vaccinated, surely it will be time to reopen the borders right? Why do Australians still want the border to remain shut?

Message is loud and clear

Australians want the border to shut.

Period.

Any political party that tries to advocate otherwise will face electoral suicide.

Why?

So, the next question to ask is this: Why are Australians so adamant about shutting the border?

It is very easy to interpret this survey to mean that Australians have descended into an irrational and exaggerated fear of covid-19 and that Australians are buying into conspiracy theories about covid-19 vaccines.

While there may be a kernel of truth to this interpretation, I think there is another deeper reason that most pundits and elites will completely miss.

Elites are panicking, propaganda campaign underway

Border closures are bad for the elites. We know that businesses in the higher education, hospitality, agriculture, travel and tourism industries are hurting badly due to border closures. Without foreign customers (students, tourists) and labour, these industries are in deep pain. Elites also want to have the freedom to travel around the world, for business and networking.

There are people who have relatives and loved ones overseas and wish to travel to see them. This group of people deserve our sympathy. Due to the border closure, a lot of them have to make the painful decision to leave Australia permanently to be with their loved ones. Some of them are unable to see their loved ones.

Already, judging from the sudden increase of mainstream media’s chatter about the need to reopen Australia’s borders, I can sense that some sort of propaganda campaign is underway. I am seeing more and more articles about this and that pundit/elite/business leader giving speeches about reopening Australia’s border. These are some examples:

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a concerted media campaign to persuade people to get vaccinated because as more people do so, the sooner the border will reopen. For example:

It is obvious to me that a propaganda campaign is underway.

Where’s the voice of the 73%?

There is an elephant in the room.

73% of Australians want the border to be shut. But has the mainstream media (MSM) bothered to listen to the 73% and ask them why they feel that way?

No!

The mainstream media give disproportionately far too much attention to the 27%. In fact, by reading the mainstream media, you can be forgiven to think that ‘everyone’ wants the border to reopen.

In fact, the MSM is implying that those who want the border to close are selfish people. For example:

This article has a kind of accusatory tone. It sounded as if MSM elites are condescendingly lecturing the 73% to stop being so self-centred. It feels as if the MSM elites are smirking and looking down upon the stupidity of the great unwashed.

From the media propaganda campaign, it is clear the MSM is trying to lecture the 73% about how wrong they are. And this goes to show how out of touch the elites are. Since the 73% are not given a say about what they think about the pre-pandemic immigration policy, they felt helplessly out of control. However, the covid-19 pandemic has given them a godsend lever of control that they can use: their arms for use in vaccination.

Sound familiar?

Does this sound familiar to you?

Brexit? Trump 2016? Federal Election 2019?

In all these cases, we have out-of-touch elites getting surprised by election outcomes. We have MSM giving you the impression that “everyone” is on their side and that if you are not on “everyone’s” side, you must be one of the deplorables.

I am afraid history is repeating itself again in this border closure issue.

What the elites have completely missed?

However, there is at least one journalist who got it. Crispin Hull wrote,

The gigabytes of comment and information in and about the Budget hardly mention the elephant no longer in the room: high population growth.

The Budget figures show that, in the pandemic-affected financial years (2019-20 to 2021-22) net migration is in total 661,000 people fewer than it would have been under business as usual.

The Government is patting itself on the back for the marvellous V-shaped economic recovery and bounce back and giving every reason but the real one. Australia is doing far better than all the economists, business, Treasury and Reserve Bank people imagined because of dramatically lower population growth caused by dramatically lower immigration.

Regarding jobs, he wrote,

This cabal of misguided economists are the people who for decades have banged on about immigration being essential to Australian economic growth and prosperity.

Poppycock. The cabal predicted the pandemic would bring economic collapse and massive dole queues. But with 661,000 fewer people (and their offspring) to cater for we have done much better than they thought.

In particular, we have about 200,000 more jobs than we had pre-pandemic. If we had had immigration as usual, those jobs would have gone to immigrants and the dole queue would have been 200,000 higher. Instead, the 200,000 people are tax-paying workers.

Kristina Keneally, a Labor Senator, is one of the few elites who gets it. She wrote last year,

While Australia’s high level of migration played a key role in our economic prosperity, in recent years the shape and size of our intake has hurt many Australian workers, contributing to unemployment, underemployment and low wage growth.

The post-COVID-19 question we must ask now is this: when we restart our migration program, do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis?

Our answer should be no. Our economic recovery must help all Australians get back on their feet, and to do that we need a migration program that puts Australian workers first.

Skills shortage?

The elites have been harping about needing skilled migration to plug Australia’s skills shortage. They said that we need to bring in more and more ‘skilled’ people into Australia to ensure economic growth.

But the fact that our economy had a V-shape economic recovery while at the same time, have negative population growth, blows away this piece of propaganda.

If we have a genuine skills shortage, then why are wage growth at a record low? If this is the case, then wages should be skyrocketing. Instead, we have what every worker in Australia knows: their wages have been stagnant for a long time.

Furthermore, the desperately needed skilled migrants that Australia imported should have a much higher employment rate than the rest of Australia right? No! Instead, as this article reported, Australia’s supposedly skilled migrants are chronically under-employed.

Something fishy is going on! This video presentation by economists from the Australia Institute clearly smashed the ‘skills shortage’ propaganda that we have been fed by the elites.

It is obvious that businesses are exploiting the ‘skilled’ migration program to import cheap labour, rather than skilled labour. Furthermore, importing cheap labour is cheaper than having to mentor and train their existing workforce. Today, more and more mainstream economists are acknowledging the fact that indiscriminate immigration is crushing wages.

What the 73% knew

The 73% knows that population growth via indiscriminate migration is the cause of stagnant wages and deteriorating working conditions.

1. Recession based on per capita basis

On a per-capita basis, Australia has experienced several years of recession over the 28-year period, when we were supposed to experience uninterrupted economic growth. To put it simply, more people means more economic activity, which shows up as economic ‘growth’ in the data. But on an individual basis, we are actually going backwards. The 73% knows that intuitively because this is their personal experience.

To emphasise this point even further, in a post-budget briefing, the Secretary of the Australian Treasury basically admitted that the collapse in immigration has helped lift Australia’s per capita GDP growth,

One downward revision in the Budget was our expectations around population growth based on updated assumptions about when borders might open. This is an area in which Australia has experienced one of the largest changes compared to other advanced economies, through lower net overseas migration.

While this downward revision to population growth will affect the size of the economy, it need not impact GDP per capita if the pandemic and economic consequences of the pandemic are well managed.

In fact, comparing GDP per person demonstrates just how well Australia has recovered.

In per capita terms, according to the IMF, Australian GDP is expected to recover as fast as any major advanced economy (Chart 5).

The Secretary of the Australian Treasury is saying that although Australia will have a smaller economy without immigration, each individual will be better off on average.

2. Deteriorating working conditions

There is another thing that the elites are too tone-deaf to understand. It is not just stagnant wages that is the problem. Working conditions are deteriorating over the years for the average worker. The drive to cost-cut relentlessly has resulted in workers (both professionals and working-class people) working longer hours, enduring more stress and experiencing their working environments becoming increasingly toxic mentally. They are under relentless pressure to continue to produce more and more and less and less.

The 73% have to put up with this because bad immigration policies brought in too much competition in the labour market. They can choose not to be exploited by leaving the job, but there will always be some new migrants or foreigners who are willing to put up with being exploited. This has come to the point where certain industries, especially the hospitality and agriculture industries, become extremely reliant on exploited foreign/migrant labour.

3. Unemployment and underemployment

In an era of ‘unprecedented’ skills shortage, we have large percentage of unemployment and underemployment, even among the so-called ‘skilled’ migrants. Clearly something has gone wrong. No prize for pointing the finger at indiscriminate immigration.

4. Congestion

Worse still, the 73% are seeing their roads becoming more and more congested, trains becoming more and more crowded, queues getting longer and longer, and so on. The increase in population has not kept up with corresponding improvement and building of infrastructure.

In other words, the 73% knew that they have been shafted by indiscriminate immigration in the form of crushed wages, poorer working conditions and deteriorating infrastructure.

This is the real reason why 73% wants border to shut

Remember that I find it remarkable that 73% wants the border to remain shut even when the whole population is fully vaccinated? This does not make sense unless there is a different reason why they want the border to remain shut.

Today, we are seeing more and more stories of desperate skills shortage. Wages are starting to rise. The 73% knows that they have a closed border to thank for. Their quality of life is improving because of the closed border.

That is why 73% wants the border to remain shut. They have more to lose by reopening the border than to gain. The 73% can feel that their time has come. After having being oppressed by the elites for so long, this is their chance to show them the middle finger.

In other words, the Fortress Australia mentality is the backlash against a failed and elite-serving immigration policy.

How will the propaganda campaign unfold

The government has made it clear that the vaccination rate will determine the pace and timetable of border reopening. If the 73% do not want the border to reopen, they can vote with their arm by refusing to vaccinate.

Therefore, as it is already happening, the elites are embarking on a propaganda campaign to increase the vaccination rate. There are basically 4 approaches to the propaganda campaign:

1. Carrot approach

This approach is already happening. As I wrote above, this approach involves telling the great unwashed that vaccinations will be rewarded with border reopening, economic growth, travel and so on. Well, the problem is that all these are not enticing or desirable incentives in the first place. So, this propaganda approach will not work.

2. Stick approach

If the carrot approach does not work, the next stage is to employ the stick approach. Already, you can see it happening. Basically, this approach involves telling the great unwashed that if they do not vaccinate, then Australia is going to face deaths and pestilence from an ‘inevitable’ wave of covid-19 that is yet to sweeping to our shores. If this propaganda approach still does not work, then the elites may draw out the big guns.

3. Sticks and carrots approach

Basically, the elites will threaten the great unwashed with a combination of sticks and carrots. The propaganda campaign will advocate for a vaccine passport system. If you are vaccinated, then you will be rewarded with ‘privileges’ like the freedom to travel, visit movie theatres, restaurants and events. If you do not vaccinate, then life will be increasingly restricted for you.

The beauty of the vaccine passport system is that they can easily dial up and down the pressure on the recalcitrants by adjusting the level of rewards and restrictions.

4. Big stick approach

As the elites get more and more frustrated with the great unwashed, they may resort to a bigger stick. They will say, Australia should reopen the borders by a certain date regardless of how many people are vaccinated. If any of the great unwashed are not vaccinated by then, tough luck!

Basically, the hidden message is this: You deserve to die if you are not vaccinated before the deadline we give you and if you die, too bad.


So, when you witness the propaganda campaign veering towards the stick approach, you know that the elites are getting increasingly frustrated at the great unwashed.


P.S. In this recent news article, it reported that

Three quarters of vaccinated Australians intend to travel within Australia or overseas in the next 12 months, a new survey has found.

By contrast, more than half (54 per cent) of those rejecting the jab are not planning any trips in that time frame, according to the online survey by the Growth Intelligence Centre.

There is certainly a relationship between wanting borders to reopen and taking up vaccination.

About Terence Kam

Terence’s profile picture is made up of the two archaic Chinese characters for the word 'inspiration' (灵感 or 靈感). The literal Chinese translation of these two characters means 'spirit perception', which is very apt for the meaning of 'inspirit'.

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