Australia's Peril

Moves Towards Asianisation:

Economics plays a large part in the current policies of Asianisation: As has already been pointed out, powerful financial and political groups want a rapid expansion of Australia's population, in order to create a larger consumer market, as well as to provide a cheaper work force. Also, it is believed that, by making our country "Asian", Australian businesses - and the general economy - will be able to obtain economic benefits by being enmeshed with the "economic dynamo" of Asia. For these reasons, all of the major political parties, big businesses, and multi-national corporations happily encourage mass Asian immigration.

The editors of The Asia-Australia Survey 1994 stated that
    "Driven largely by the need to improve Australia's economic performance, recent Australian governments have come to regard economic integration into Asia as a matter of the highest priority. But while economic imperatives have been behind Australia's drive to get into Asia, the issues it raises are much wider, touching, among other things, matters of national identity". They also made the point that both Prime Ministers Hawke and Keating "would emphasise the importance of developing a closer relationship with the countries of Asia" and that "Australia's economic integration into Asia" was continuing. In capping off their review of 1993, the editors stated "Australia and Australians continued to lay the foundations for a broadly based future in Asia... the nation's further "enmeshment" with Asia is a realistic goal and much was done to attain it during the year".(129)
As quoted earlier in this document, in 1989 Bob Hawke (then Labor Prime Minister) said that
    "For Australia the logic of greater enmeshment with the regional economy is very clear. The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic area of the world economy and developments in our region will play a decisive role in shaping Australia's economic future".(130)
Several big-business executives and employer groups have called for a large rise in Australia's population; for example:

Hugh Morgan (Chief Executive of Western Mining) has proposed a figure of "about half a million migrants annually".(131)

John Elliott (Managing Director of Elders IXL) advocated that "we aim at a quarter of a million a year".(132)

Campbell Anderson (Chief Executive of Renison Goldfields Consolidated) called for our migrant intake to be "increased to about one per cent of the population each year" (i.e. about 175 000).(133)

The Chamber of Commerce has called for an increase of up to 180 000, and the Master Builders' Federation has said the annual intake should be 150 000.(134)

The Business Council of Australia, one of the country's largest employer groups, said that immigration should be increased to more than 180 000.(135)

The Australian Chamber of Manufactures "has called on the Federal Government to increase Asian immigration" and, in particular, "says it wants more immigrants from Asian business communities such as Hong Kong and Taiwan".(136)

In 1997, the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Manufactures, Allan Handberg, called for "more immigrants to stimulate the economy".(137)

Professor Hughes (Director of the National Centre for Development Studies at the Australian National University) has stated that
    "the future success of Australia's economy will depend greatly on large-scale immigration from Asia and the Pacific... a greater intake of immigrants could improve the use of capital, reduce the cost of introducing new technology, and increase economies of scale".(138)
Multinational corporations and banks have been putting pressure upon Australia to economically integrate with Asia. In a 1996 article entitled "Missing the boat to Asia" (with a sub-heading of "100 global company chiefs have given Australia this message: Get moving on Asia") the Herald Sun reported that:
    "Corporate heavy-hitters from more than 100 of the world's biggest multinationals have flown out of Canberra after a private briefing session with senior ministers from the Howard government.
    "...They warned that we had better get our act together quickly to decide how best to position ourselves in Asia.
    "The corporations represented at the roundtable conference included computer giant Unisys, Chase Manhattan Bank and British Telecom.
    "The combined turnover of the corporations at the conference is more than double the entire annual output of the Australian economy.
    "The fifth such conference, it was an invaluable opportunity for the Howard government to spell out why we would be a good environment for investment into the next century.
    "...With its share of world markets about to slip beneath 1 per cent, Australia has a narrowing window of opportunity to cash in on the investment splurge in the Asian region.
    "...the message from international business is that Australia cannot afford the luxury of being half-heartened in its efforts to benefit from Asian economic growth.
    "The expression "poor white trash" might come to have real meaning to our future generations if the opportunities are lost."(139)
This "integrate with Asia" attitude can be found in many of Australia's big companies. A 1997 article reported that the Hudson Conway corporation "is unlikely to pursue big projects in Australia in the medium term, instead preferring what it sees as the growth economies of South-East Asia". Hudson Conway's chief executive, Lloyd Williams, dismissed concerns about the economic turmoil that had arisen in Asia, and was optimistic about Asia's long-term prospects. Williams said "When you look at the fundamentals of Asia, the population, and look at the can-do attitude, Asia is going to be the powerhouse of the world".(140)

So, the big-business sell-out of Australia is a two-edged sword. On one hand big business is demanding larger programmes of mass immigration, so as to create "economies of scale" in Australia; and perhaps a more compliant workforce - via poor Asian migrants as well as from increased competition for jobs. And at the same time big business sends Australian capital overseas to take advantage of Asia's more flexible (and sometimes corrupt) governments, less environmental restrictions, and a cheaper workforce (used to poor working conditions) - which, of course, means that Australia loses its investment capital, loses industries (and potential industries), and suffers from the resulting higher unemployment.