Harry Clarke On economics, politics & other things

September 21, 2012

Thinking clearly about immigration

Filed under: Middle East,migration,Uncategorized — hc @ 12:48 pm

We have been selective in sections of our immigration program – for example the business program discriminates on the basis of wealth.  But if one raises the case for not favouring the admission to Australia of those who come from violent societies where our  democratic values and belief in religious tolerance would get zero respect then one runs the risk of being described as a racist or a bigot.  I am neither but I do favour discrimination in our intake policy against those who (for whatever reason) oppose our open society.  This has nothing to do with racism or with, to be specific given current controversies, anti-Muslim sentiments.

I strongly endorse the comments of Graham Richardson in this morning’s Australian with respect to the violent thugs who invaded Sydney recently because someone in the United States had made a stupid, offensive film. These thugs were looking for a fight and had no reasonable gripe at all. Quote from Richardson:

“I am sick and tired of hearing these young blokes described as being disenfranchised and alienated as if they are the victims. This is rubbish. No one alienated or disenfranchised them – they chose to stand apart. Whenever they refer to the rest of us as infidels, they give the game up. If this is such a shameful country you wonder why they are so desperate to get here?”

Yes Graham it is hard to “put this genie back in the bottle” but we should at least learn from our mistakes.    Almost all Australians Muslims oppose the actions of these thugs so there is no case for restricting Muslim immigration per se.  But the character of immigrants needs to be assessed so that we do not import violent thugs who despise our society and seek to operate as outlaws within it.

One thing that needs to happen is that data on the links between crime, ethnicity, economic background, prior exposure to armed conflicts and other variables needs to be made available to immigration researchers. Political correctness, an uncritical acceptance of any type of cultural diversity and a belief that Australia bears substantial responsibility for those involved in civil conflict anywhere in the world is leaving Australia vulnerable to creating  a society most Australians do not want.


  1. I wonder if it’s possible to develop a sufficient Shibboleth test for prospective immigrants? Discriminating based on exposure to conflict, crime, etc. would seem to result in too many false-rejections (if a better test existed). Perhaps interviewing on particular sensitive issues–cartoons of prophets, gay marriage, or welfare eligibility–could improve selection?

    Also, I have no idea of the numbers, but the accents of the thugs the other day didn’t appear to be foreign. These guys are Australian born (like the Cronulla rioters). Improving immigration policy won’t do much to stop existing thugs of any colour.

    Comment by Jim S — September 21, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  2. Jim, If they are the Australian-born progeny of immigrants from the Middle East then that is really problematic since then evidently bad character traits are not extinguished in the first generation.

    Comment by hc — September 21, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  3. I’m not sure the first generation bring all of the bad traits with them — I’ve worked in France on and off for a few weeks a year for about 15 years, and I’ve never been hassled by the older immigrants (e.g., yelled at at night by nasty gangs etc.) — it’s always the younger ones, who are certainly second generation, although the Arabs certainly have aggressive body language compared to the French, which I imagine many people would not take well (a lot like the Muzzas here). There are also lots of interactions, because at least as far as I can tell, the black African Muslims don’t seem to be nearly as aggressive/sexist as the white North African ones. Lots of this comes out in surveys of the French as well, where the Arabs come out as the most hated group (it’s easy to see why this is), followed by the black Africans (this is basically unprovoked racism as far as I can tell) and then other groups (as is this). I imagine similar things will or have developed here.

    Also, a lot of the data on ethnicity and crime is available (e.g., who is in jail and from which country) — it sits on the ABS (raw data) and AICS (usually processed stuff) sites.

    Comment by conrad — September 21, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

  4. There is a good literature on oppositional identities. In the case at hand, there are always ratbag sections of every part of the community looking for a good ruck.

    Riots have a long history, with opportunism by a minority of hooligans a major driver of esclation.

    The London riots were a case of criminal elements seizing their chance. As police resources become strained, fewer criminals are apprehended so more had a go.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deadly_riots – very long even for last year.

    Comment by Jim Rose — September 21, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  5. Conrad, Do you have a link to the data you mention?

    Comment by hc — September 22, 2012 @ 3:04 am

  6. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4517.02011?OpenDocument

    will give you incarceration rates Auswide by country of birth (which obviously won’t give you second generation stuff). There definitely used to be Victorian ones floating around also that not only have incarceration rates but conviction rates also (I used to use them as an example of framing, because I think Romanians come out close to the top, which is why I remember).

    Comment by conrad — September 22, 2012 @ 8:13 am

  7. Conrad, The data isn’t much good but it does point out to some regularities. Vietnamese don’t come out well mainly because of a high level of drug offences. New Zealanders and particularly UK residents have low involvement in crime. Lebanese and Sudanese come out badly with Lebanese having quite high levels of involvement in crimes such as murders. The Chinese seem quite law abiding. I coundn’t understand the high crime rate for Indonesians since most of their crimes fall in the “Other” category.

    But these are very (very!!!) rough conclusions since the data is very rough -Lebanese for example are not distinguished by religious affiliation. I’d be interested in finding a properly done survey.

    Comment by hc — September 22, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  8. The data is not bad for some things you haven’t mentioned — if you’re interested in who is causing what types of crime, it has things usually ignored, like age of the offenders and gender. Some communities like the the Sudanese, for example, are basically more male and much younger than the general population (which is data you will have to dig up from other places), so whilst they look like they do a lot more crime than average, if you compare like for like (e.g., young Australian born males), they’re not nearly as different. This is probably confounded in the other direction with kiwis and people from the UK (let alone if you take education into account for people from the UK). There are of course big exceptions to this — I doubt the Chinese and Indians are much older than the general population, but they still don’t cause a lot of crime (this of course is a good thing given recent immigration!).

    I’m not aware of any data set with religious affiliation in it and the extent to which people practice it. I imagine the first of these probably exists from jail records, but not the second. Despite this, if you’re interested in the Lebanese, then you can probably look at Sydney versus Melbourne, since I think there is a pretty big distinction between these groups in terms of religious affiliation and amount of crime they cause (I don’t see people in Melbourne complaining about them). However, even that is also confounded since I think it’s mainly the Sydney ones that have been involved in gangs and the drug trade, something which isn’t condoned by any religion but means many will or have ended up in jail.

    Comment by conrad — September 22, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

  9. conrad makes a good point about some immigrant populations being younger and more young males. all crime risk factors.

    Comment by Jim Rose — September 23, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  10. Incarceration rates aren’t all that helpful in looking at crime – not everyone goes to gaol – it depends on how naughty they have been and other factors. Maybe NZers get booted back home? (What do you call a NZer in a suit and tie? – The Defendant)

    Convictions rates would better. Also worth looking at intervention orders, family violence, child protections rates, Centerlink payments, Centerlink fraud, drink driving, unlicensed driving, un registered cars, firearsm possession, etc. to get a good look at where it goes wrong. Putting it all together is useful.

    A lot of the “Lebanese” crime makes more sense if looked at from intertwined “families” and networks rather than ethnicity.

    I do think people are getting a bit precious about the “Muslim violence” in those opposed to that stupid badly made film. Most of what we saw on TV was no worse or better then the G8 demos, assorted Nazi dust ups, BLF, CFMEU and Grollos, and other demos over the years.

    Comment by fxh — September 23, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

  11. fxh — there is conviction data around. The ABS site has it, but not for different ethnic groups. However, this latter set certainly existed at one stage — I have a table from Victoria from the 90s somewhere. Not surprisingly, the correlation is extremely high, so if you’re just interested in which group is doing what, then it’s pretty much the same.

    Comment by conrad — September 24, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

  12. “These thugs were looking for a fight and had no reasonable gripe at all”
    Yes, obviously. But that’s why I can’t abide the overreaction. It doesn’t need some uniquely evil religion to account for testosterone-driven young men brawling with coppers (themselves often not short of testosterone). Just let the thugs face the same consequences as any Saturday night pub brawler and stop trying to make some great social significance of the whole thing.

    BTW, based on past experience it is much more likely that these angry young men are first generation Australians rather than actual immigrants themselves. I can certainly guarantee that none of them were boat people because the tabloids and shock jocks would have screamed it from the heavens if they were.

    Comment by derrida derider — September 27, 2012 @ 12:09 am

  13. DD — I think people do have a right to be more worried about it. Groups of low IQ testosterone pumped young men are just that, and it’s well known they are a susceptible group to extremist ideologies. This generally isn’t such a big deal unless those groups have hundreds of millions of supporters and the ability to do really nasty stuff.

    Comment by conrad — September 27, 2012 @ 10:27 am

  14. The London bombers were second generation Muslims. I thought it was common knowledge that much of the problem is the second generation not the first.

    It would be prudent to restrict immigration from those countries, such as as Pakistan, that have produced large numbers of terrorists throughout the West. About one-quarter of the 240 convicted Muslim terrorists in Britain are of Paki origin.

    Comment by Mel — September 28, 2012 @ 12:47 am

  15. Can anyone explain why the issues seem far more problematic in Sydney than Victoria?

    Comment by via collins — September 29, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

  16. “Can anyone explain why the issues seem far more problematic in Sydney than Victoria?”

    1) Sydney has more annoying people in general and groups in endemic poverty, and part of this is just due to a historical accident as to where some of these groups went.
    2) Sydney has more ghettoized suburbs (in the broadest sense — ghettos of rich people also), which probably encourages groups to stay as they are since they will never get dispersed.
    3) This is probably at least due in part to a lack of anything but exceptionally expensive housing (c.f., Melbourne where you have outer-burbs that are not so bad and can hence disperse groups).
    4) Sydney is exceptionally expensive to live, so groups that are in endemic poverty are going to be angrier.
    5) You can compare points (1)-(4) for other cities and the same pattern emerges except Melbourne is worse (e.g., Melbourne-Brisbane and Melbourne-Adelaide)

    Comment by conrad — September 30, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  17. Mel, What about restricting immigration from Ireland. The Taig’s too terrorized Britain in the past.

    Comment by Sriram — October 2, 2012 @ 12:01 am

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