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Australia sees record number of long-term arrivals in January – as tent cities spring up due to housing crisis

Brisbane tent city

Australia’s tidal wave of mass immigration-fuelled population growth is showing no signs of letting up, with over 113,000 long-term foreign arrivals in January – a new record.

The figure, revealed in a data release published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday, is an increase of more than 33% on last January’s numbers.

Including Australian resident returns, where citizens are also counted, the number of long-term arrivals rises to 125,410 and is a 40% increase on the previous January high in 2009.

International student arrivals were also up 23,660 since January 2023, but at 82,890 were still 8% lower than the previous peak in the first month of 2019.

The year-on-year rise in arrivals is at odds with the claims of Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, who promised in December 2023 that Labor would exercise a “vigilance” that would reduce immigration this year, and introduced a student visa crackdown.

The release comes as Big Four financial services firm Deloitte described Australia’s housing market as “uncomfortably tight” due to demand far exceeding supply.

Deloitte dwelling under construction housing crisis immigration
Dwellings under construction in Australia (Deloitte using ABS data)

“The root of Australia’s housing crisis is that supply is failing to keep up with rising demand. Demand has escalated in line with strong population growth driven by record high net overseas arrivals through 2023,” Deloitte said in a note on Wednesday.

“Recent growth in housing commencements has failed to keep up with this population growth, let alone start to address the structural undersupply.”

Deloitte found that while the average number of houses under construction had hit at average of 102,900 at any given time over the past few years, two-thirds higher than the historical average, but noted that this was due to a backlog in completions caused by supply-side constraints.

Economist Leith Van Onselen said in an analysis of the Deloitte note in Macrobusiness: “The federal government’s reckless immigration policy is the primary driver behind the collapse in the nation’s rental vacancy rate to record lows, alongside the hyper-inflation of rents.

“The question every Australian should be asking the federal government is: why did it choose to ramp-up immigration to record high levels when the supply-side of the housing market was clearly bottlenecked?

“Australia’s population grew by a record 680,000 people in 2023, which dwarfed the circa 170,000 homes built over the same period.”

The immigration-driven crisis has forced an increasing number of Australians into unsecure housing arrangements, with a horrific tent cities springing in the middle of Brisbane.

Residents told The Courier Mail the situation was “out of control”, while shelter providers blamed record-low vacancy rates and not enough homes to meet demand.

Australian icon and businessman Dick Smith slammed the latest ABS figures, calling out wealthy elites who he said want nothing but “unlimited population growth to grow their wealth”.

February’s long-term arrivals will be published by the ABS in the middle of next month.

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