Should I leave Australia?


It is hard to watch the current ‘population’ debate in Australia, be overseas and not think about that question. Let me put it more specifically, if I am nationalistic towards Australia, should I consider remaining overseas and not returning? In particular, what is the logical answer to that question if I am to believe the general arguments put forward seemingly by both major political parties — albiet one more starkly stated than the other.

To begin answering this question let me state a few axioms from which to base logical consequences. First, I’ll assume the goal is the welfare — happiness, economic prosperity, etc — of all current resident Australians in some sort of aggregate — the nationalistic assumption. Second, I’ll assume that I am not allowed to base my decision on my own economic circumstance and also on the ‘economic contribution’ I might make to Australia in the future — this is the no-economic discrimination assumption that I see politicians as making. Those two should do it.

Now what are the criteria we should use to consider the value of my absence? For one, let’s start with the ‘burden on public infrastructure’ argument. Well, there I am a clear liability. I consume all manner of public infrastructure but, in particular, I consume education resources — and here I am assuming that if I leave, another adult and three school age children will leave as part of the mix (call it a household family emigration policy). While you might say that as an Australia who pays more than the average in taxes, I should take that into account I need to remind you that that would be an economic factor and so I can’t take that into account. My absence would free up resources.

Second, let’s consider what one might call the ‘Western Sydney’ argument. This is the argument that some localities are suffering more from immigration and over-population than others. Well, I don’t live in Western Sydney nor (I’m pretty sure) whatever someone might define as the Melbourne equivalent. So you might think that I am off the hook there. But not so. If I leave, that will free up one house elsewhere that one of the families from the over-populated regions will — through a chain of movements — eventually claim. So long as we leave the country, we are creating the potential to reduce the congestion issue whereever it might be.

Third, my environmental impact. Well, that is surely a disaster; I’ll not pretend otherwise. So if I were to leave that would be a reduction in any future emissions goal. That said, this argument I should not is a fallacy anyway since it is only an improvement to the world problem if I move somewhere that allows me to emit less. Hard to see how I can guarantee that.

Finally, there is the ‘cultural fit’ issue. Now from what I understand that comes from my willingness to partake in Australian culture in all of its forms. Well, it is hard to judge that obviously but let me give you a few bits of information and let you decide whether on that basis I would be cleared for fit from our mainstream politicians. For one, I don’t drink. Not at all. Nothing. Second, I don’t watch sports. I used to watch cricket but no longer have the time and I have lived in Melbourne for 14 years and have never been to an Aussie Rules match — not even for the children. Lastly, I’m an economist.

Near as I can tell, if I accept these arguments as to why we should have a small population as both major parties seem to be arguing, then the logical consequence is that, for the good of the country, I should leave. And I have to say that hearing the current arguments and their flawed moral logic, that thought becomes easier to contemplate.

12 Responses to "Should I leave Australia?"
  1. Have to say my first thought on hearing Abbott say net immigration would be cut if the Libs win was that this would be a result of increase emigration.

  2. You’re absolutely right. And there’s not just cultural fit – there’s job fit as well. We don’t need more economists in Australia. I propose a job swap scheme. If you leave, your place should be replaced by a plumber (I need to fix the taps, how are you with washers?)

  3. “For one, I don’t drink. Not at all.”
    That changes everything… not about this topic, but with regards to your seminal urinal work.  How can you understand the behaviour of the truly needy if you haven’t encountered a wall of urinals while under the influence and with a heavy bladder? 🙂

  4. The bottom line is that everyone should leave Australia until this election is over. Either I’m getting old and cranky or this is the most depressing election campaign ever. Joshua you wrote you’ll vote labor. I cannot bring myself to vote for either of the major parties. Having read the Green platform last night I can choose a mixture of economic vandalism with some common sense from them, or just go with the sex party – I don’t know what their platform is because access to their site is blocked at MBS, but I’m sure I must agree with at least one of their policies. When will we get some real choice from a party like the Monster Raving Loony Party or Frank Zappa – how is it that the US got Frank Zappa and we got Peter Garrett?! Maybe we could let Ross Perot immigrate here so that we could have some entertainment.

  5. You’re not found stumbling around some pub in Australia? The change should do you good. Free up our urinals too.

  6. Australia is a socially conservative nation that hitched its wagon to the Right of politics under Howard, and will return to his politics after this election under Abbott.
    Labor are incapable of selling their achievements to the electorate. It doesn’t seem to matter that they have kept the global recession at bay, or kept unemployment figures low, despite massive problems in the international economy. Nor does it seem to matter historically that the Labor Party under Hawke and Keating were responsible for the micro and macro economic reforms that opened this nation to the global market and made it such a powerful economy. It doesn’t matter because the LIB/NATS are what the majority of Australians view as its spiritual leader; a party in keeping with its conservative, tabloid driven, social stance.
    Watching Labor move right on social issues in an attempt to keep these conservatives on side in key ‘marginals’ has sickened me. Given the economic success and economic creativity of the ALP’s first term, and yet how likely it is that they will loose an election, it has become very clear that Australians will not respect a party other than the LIB/NATS. Rudd/Gillard was a blip on this nations historical march to total conservatism. It has also made me realize that for Labor to stay in power it must become a party i can no longer recognize as a Left leaning Labor voter (albeit a voter who vigorously supports free market capitalism).
    Our choice between the parties is so narrow, too. Its either the LIB/NATS, Labor impersonating the LIB/NATS, or the absurdity of the Greens economic vandalism.
    Given the poverty of choice and the pathetic social conservatism of this nation i have decided to leave regardless of the election result.
    I am fortunate enough to have an EU passport (10 pound pom parents), and to be fluent in German. My profession should also land me work in Berlin or Hamburg. I am currently applying for similar positions (in both cities) to the one i currently hold.
    Goodbye and good riddance Australia. May you all enjoy your politically homogenous landscape, and your potential leader in Abbott; who is both an economic illiterate and someone who is all too happy to make hay out of the most disadvantaged if it means political gain for him and his party. A cynical position, of course, supported by the majority of the countries slavish right-leaning press and woeful public.
    Auf Wiedersehen.

  7. I am leaving, what better opportunities in Australia, loads of Bxxx…I have many friends moved to USA (yes, USA..), and they all end up much better..why?

    Too many industries are simply non-existent in Australia, what jobs do you have if you are in R&D, Cleantech, even hedge funds (Yeah..Macquarie Bank here that’s it)..well guess what, I have friends work for Mac Bank and both of them now work for Mac Bank in USA..with twice the salary!!

    They bought an apartment in New York City in the 1st year, and they could not even buy an apartment back in OZ..

    Living cost sucks in Australia, just because we are Down Under, and toilets flushes the wrong way, we pay double the price than Northerners…

    Stop feeling “Oh, yeah, we are not in recession”…that’s just stupid media news. We are in recession everyday because of housing affordability, living cost and inept Government who has done nothing about living cost.

    This election will end in hung-parliament where Libs or Labour will ask greens for help on every policies will be implemented next 3 years…

  8. Wow, some bitter and twisted (and deluded) people on this blog.

    Makes my head spin to think that Henry Avery will find the promised land in Germany – a politically timid landscape if there ever was one; not to mention a government just as venal and hypocritical when it comes to social, taxation, immigration and economic policy, e.g. dodgy landsbanken, heavily-indebted local governments, high entrenched unemployment, high taxes, immigrant underclasses, broken EU monetary and fiscal rules (long before GFC), and sometimes amazingly conservative social norms. (I lived there for 3 1/2 years…) Hey, they’re just like us – only different.

    Berlin would be a cool city to reside in, however. And the beer is good.

  9. It’s not the immigration number or population that counts. It’s what kind of people we can attract to Australia, and if we can retain them.

    Too many immigrants come to Australia just for PR and citizenship and flew out 1 week after they received the passport. As an immigrant myself, I found those behavious very unacceptable, but when I look around, I have only 1 friend from my Uni days decided to stay in Australia.

    I then look around, I found only 10% of my colleagues from my first job remain in Australia, including many Aussies now live in UK, US, Singapore, you name it.

    The no. of people emigrating from Australia tells the truth, this is more than doubled past 5 years, and the scary part is, more intellectuals and more Aussies (those have lived here for 20 years or more) are leaving.

    So, there are certainly something wrong, if a place is really good, then most people will stay. In comparison, North America has very high retention rate, judged by the British stats, majority of them have stayed.., in OZ, this can be below 50%.

    Something for politicians to consider anyway…if we attract smart people, they will create jobs and not just get the passports..

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