University students have sparked uproar on campus by displaying a sign calling for a debate on Australia’s immigration rate.
Members of the University of New South Wales’s Conservatives society set up a desk at the Kensington campus, in Sydney’s south east, with a sign: ‘Our immigration level is too high’.
The club encouraged fellow students to approach the desk on Tuesday to debate the provocative issue and change their minds.
Immigration is a big issue across the political spectrum in Australia, with a Newspoll released on Tuesday showing 25 per cent of residents in Sydney and regional New South Wales wanted the population growth pace to be slashed.
UNSW students have caused uproar with a politically incorrect sign at a controversial ‘change my mind’ event on campus (pictured)
In 2018, a record 832,560 permanent and long-term migrants decided to call Australia home, marking a 7.1 per cent increase compared with 2017, official statistics released in February showed.
With the number of people leaving Australia for good taken into account, the nation’s annual net immigration rate stood at 291,250, the highest in four-and-a-half years.
Property remains unaffordable in Sydney and Melbourne, with house prices surging by double-digit margins after Australia’s net annual immigration pace climbed above 200,000 in 2012 to a level that was almost triple the average of the late 1990s.
However, the UNSW Education Collective, a campus collective that claims to fight for ‘progressive issues’, denounced the message both on campus and on social media.
The UNSW Education Collective, a campus collective that fights for progressive issues, denounced the message both on campus and on social media
‘We had a good go at them but it seemed like they weren’t willing to change their mind?’ the collective wrote with a picture of the event.
Australia’s population growth
1881: 2.3 million
1918: 5 million
1959: 10 million
1981: 15 million
1991: 17.4 million
2004: 20 million
2013: 23 million
2016: 24 million
2018: 25 million
Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics; House of Representatives Standing Committee for Long-Term Strategies, December 1994
The collective called the conservatives ‘campus incels’ and apologised for making their ‘small brains hurt’.
‘Maybe the government should tax corporations to fund decent public infrastructure and services instead of beating up racist BS about over immigration,’ the collective wrote.
The ‘change my mind’ campus initiative was introduced by American right-wing podcaster Steven Crowder, who suggested male privilege was a myth outside Texas Christian University in February 2018.
Mr Crowder shared the image to twitter, where it became a meme and an incentive for other right-wing students to debate social topics.
The Conservative society re-shared the collectives’ Facebook post and said their stance on immigration was not linked to their views on race.
‘It was a pleasure to be visited by members of the UNSW education collective at our ‘Change my mind’ event today,’ they said.
UNSW Conservatives (pictured) encouraged fellow students to approach the desk to debate the provocative issue and change their minds
‘Granted, their screaming in our faces was not as effective at changing our minds as a little calm discussion might have been.’
‘We would also like to politely clarify that our position on immigration has absolutely nothing to do with race.’
The group signed off their post by welcoming more ‘interesting’ discussion at other events later in the year.
The event has been met with a number of responses on social media, with some questioning how the UNSW Education Collective handled the situation.
‘Why do you think it’s cool to personally attack people for their political affiliations and opinions, how is it at all useful to anyone to call theses guys ‘incles’ and collectively mock them online,’ responded one person.
The fiery UNSW Education Collective Facebook post was re-shared by the conservatives who said their stance on immigration was not linked to their views on race
‘Reasonable political discussion is healthy but all I saw were people attacking them, pretty sure I heard someone get called a racist and now incels,’ commented another.
One social media user said: ‘It’s not conservative to say our immigration level is too high. It’s not about race it’s about population.’
Australia’s annual population growth pace of 1.6 per cent is among the highest in the developed world and more than double that of the U.S. or the United Kingdom.
Net annual immigration averaged 70,000 during the 20th century but climbed above 100,000 in 2002 and 200,00 in 2012.
Australia surpassed the 25 million milestone in August last year, 24 years earlier than predicted by the Howard government’s first intergenerational report in 2002.
But the UNSW Education Collective disagreed with the call for debate and said the two could not be separated.
The event has been met with a number of responses on social media, with some questioning how the UNSW Education Collective handled the situation (pictured: UNSW Conservatives logo)
Education Officer Caitlin Keogh told Daily Mail Australia the collective argued that infrastructure and services needed to be expanded and improved to make Sydney more livable for migrants and those born here.
‘The focus on immigration level acts to scapegoat migrants for Sydney’s problems rather than place the blame squarely on successive governments that have allowed the erosion of public services and not kept up infrastructure to improve people’s lives,’ Ms Keogh said.
Ms Keogh claimed the conservatives did not respond to those arguments, but instead ‘wanted a platform to discuss anti-immigration and anti-immigrant ideas’.
The education officer added that the conservatives did not want to change their mind.
‘Anyone opposed to bigotry should see through the facade of the conservatives wanting “rational debate” because it is a cover for wanting to espouse racist ideology unopposed,’ Ms Keogh said.
UNSW, one of Australia’s top universities, encourages diversity and inclusion on campus
‘As Education officer I am totally opposed to anti migrant rhetoric and see it as lending itself to racism.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted UNSW Conservatives for comment.
UNSW, one of Australia’s top universities, encourages diversity and inclusion on campus.
‘UNSW will be recognised as an international exemplar in equity, diversity and inclusion. Our success will have been built upon embracing the diversity and cultural richness of our communities and ensuring that our staff and students can achieve their full potential regardless of background,’ UNSW 2025 vision says.