Immigration Slump to Weigh Heavily on Australian House Prices

So far, Canadian housing prices continue to defy gravity despite the decline in immigration arrivals:

Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong/Sydney-21 September 2020: Australia’s house prices are set to decline by 5%-10% over the next 12 to 18 months, as net immigration weakens sharply, says Fitch Ratings. Price declines on this scale would be unlikely to have a ratings impact on Fitch-rated residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) transactions, but the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic may create risks that will require close monitoring.

Immigration had already been slowing prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, but has plunged since the health crisis led to strict controls on international travel. The Australian government in May predicted that immigration would fall by 15% in the year to June 2020 (FY20) and by a further 85% in FY21. This would represent a fall of almost 200,000 permanent arrivals in FY21 relative to FY19, and mark the lowest level of net immigration since June 1993.

The decline will lead to a significant drop in household formation. The most recent Australian Census, held in August 2016, showed that the average Australian household had 2.6 people. If this ratio holds for immigrants, the reduction in immigration between FY19 and FY21 would imply demand for around 76,000 fewer dwellings than would have otherwise been the case. Assuming the natural population increase remains similar to previous years, Fitch estimates the population growth for Australia will reach just 0.7% in 2020, a level not seen in the past 40 years, and down from 1.4% in 2019.

Previous recessions in Australia that were coupled with significant unemployment resulted in a reduction in household formation as fewer adult children moved to their own dwellings. The exceptional uncertainty related to the current recession, and its disproportionate impact on young people, is likely to reduce household formation and property demand even more.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has indicated that 171,000 housing approvals were granted in FY20. This is significantly down on the peak for approvals of 243,000 in the 12 months to August 2016, which may help to mitigate the demand shock. Monetary policy has also loosened, which could provide some support for house prices, as could government policies targeting support for the housing sector.

Nevertheless, we believe house prices will face downward pressure nationwide, as supportive factors will be outweighed by the impact of the change in net immigration, along with high unemployment and general economic uncertainty. Indeed, risks to our forecast for house prices are skewed to the downside, and price falls could exceed 10% if our assumptions about the path of the pandemic prove to be overly optimistic.

Fitch modelling for RMBS transactions addresses risks to house prices associated with the impact of the pandemic. Our stress analysis at ‘Bsf’ includes market value declines of at least 25%, so the 5%-10% drop in prices we expect should not have significant effects on ratings. Nevertheless, price declines will vary between regions, and transactions that have collateral concentrated on inner city units in Sydney and Melbourne may be more affected. Moreover, we remain alert to the potential for downside risks associated with the pandemic’s evolution, and will continue to monitor trends in the housing market closely.

Fitch estimates that immigration into Australia has added approximately 1% to GDP annually over the past 10 years. An end to pandemic-related travel restrictions could result in a rapid reversion of immigration to previous trends, and we expect new permanent arrivals to remain a driver of medium-term growth. However, we do not expect restrictions to be eased until well into 2021, and there may be public pressure on the authorities to limit immigration in the near term as long as unemployment remains high.

Source: Immigration Slump to Weigh Heavily on Australian House Prices

It’s time Canada stood up to more bullies besides Trump. China, for instance.

Alan Freeman’s piece, written before foreign minister Champagne’s announcement that Canada abandons free-trade talks with China in shift for Trudeau government raises valid comparisons with Australia’s approach:

Sometimes it pays to stand up to a bully. It’s time Canada made a habit of it.

This week, hours before Canada was about to impose tariffs on a range of U.S. products in retaliation for the Trump administration’s imposition of a 10 per cent tariff on Canadian exports of aluminum, the U.S. caved.

The U.S. tariff was cancelled, and though U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer insisted Washington hadn’t backed down, and the tariffs could be reimposed if Canada didn’t behave itself and restrict exports of the metal in future, it was clear that Canada had won this battle.

The imposition of the aluminum tariff was an absurdity from the start, one that seemed to benefit only a few well-connected aluminum producers and to anger everyone else in the U.S. industry. Yet credit still has to go to the Trudeau government and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland for standing tough all the way through.

A similar no-nonsense approach was essential to the renegotiation of NAFTA, an unnecessary exercise prompted by U.S. President Donald Trump, which only had downsides for Canada at the outset. The fact that the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade pact doesn’t seem much different from the old one has to be seen as a victory. It could have been a lot worse.

Although Trump has shown his dislike of Trudeau on several occasions — there’s hardly a democratically elected world leader Trump hasn’t tussled with — it hasn’t meant Canada has been so worried about Trump’s volatility that it’s been willing to back down on trade and other issues, which is a good thing. The basic message is that we value our relationship with the U.S., but we won’t be pushed around.

If only Canada could show more of this backbone when dealing with China. Although the Trudeau government has been firm in its reaction to the suspension of freedoms in Hong Kong, and continues to insist on the liberation of the two kidnapped Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, it still seems reluctant to respond outspokenly to Chinese excesses.

When it comes to standing up to China, Canada should look at Australia. It’s much more dependent on China than Canada is, with China accounting for one-third of Australia’s exports, including huge quantities of coal, iron ore and agricultural products. And Australia depends on big influxes of Chinese university students and tourists to bolster its economy.

Yet relations are tense, because the Australian government is wary of Chinese efforts to influence — some say infiltrate — Australian universities and political life. In June, Australia’s intelligence services are reported to have raided the homes of four Chinese journalists resident in Australia, as well as of a state legislator whose office was suspected of being used to influence Australian politics.

The four journalists have since returned to China, and the visas of two Chinese academics have been cancelled, but not before China had struck back. Chinese police recently conducted midnight interrogations of two prominent Australian journalists in China, who were forced to seek refuge at Australian diplomatic facilities before fleeing the country.

And in what looks like a repeat of the abduction of the two Michaels, TV news anchor Cheng Lei, a star of CGTN, a Chinese government-owned English TV network in Beijing, was detained last month and is being held for suspected “criminal activity endangering China’s national security.” The Chinese-born journalist is an Australian citizen.

Relations between China and Australia have been deteriorating for years, but what appears to have really upset Beijing was the call in April by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only has China cracked down on journalists in retaliation, but it has launched a series of trade actions targeting Australian exports of barley and beef. China has also started an anti-dumping probe against Australian wine — shades of China’s moves against Canadian canola and pork.

When it comes to Huawei, the Australians have already acted, banning the Chinese technology giant from its 5G networks, while Canada continues to prevaricate. It seems at times that the Trudeau government is wishing it would all go away, including the U.S. extradition request for Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive arrested in Vancouver in December 2018.

While trade tensions haven’t eased, Australia has at least made clear that it won’t be intimidated. Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Duncan has said about the latest row over journalists that “Australia will defend its core values and principles, such as adherence to the rule of law, press freedom and democracy.”

And the Australian government has armed itself with a series of laws that defend against foreign interference in its political institutions. Just last month, the government proposed federal legislation that would require any foreign agreements signed by states, local governments and universities to be first approved by the central government. The bill seemed aimed specifically at agreements with China.

It follows adoption of federal legislation in 2018 that criminalizes foreign interference in Australian government, including covert, deceptive actions or threats aimed at democratic institutions or providing intelligence to overseas governments.

Because the Chinese economic and political presence is so much more important to Australia than it is to Canada, there is none of the naiveté that still seems to influence Canadian attitudes toward China. As the Globe and Mail has reported this week, Huawei is keen to cash in on those gullible China-sympathetic “influencers,” including one-time politicians and academics who’ve been pressing Ottawa for a prisoner swap to free the two Michaels, so far without success.

Let’s hope that Freeland, with her influence in the Trudeau cabinet at an all-time high, will succeed in convincing her colleagues that Canada needs to stand up to an even bigger bully than Donald Trump. It will take a lot of backbone.

Source: It’s time Canada stood up to more bullies besides Trump. China, for instance.

Australia has announced a new citizenship test. Here’s how it will work

Note the value-type questions, most being more broadly focussed with one, arguably, being more targeted (readers to judge which one!):

Australia’s citizenship test is getting its first update in more than a decade, with a focus on Australian values.

Announcing the changes on Thursday – which marks Australian Citizenship Day – Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge said: “Our Australian values are important. They have helped shape our country and they are the reason why so many people want to become Australian citizens”.

The new questions, which will be included on Australian citizenship tests from 15 November, “require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values, like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law,” Mr Tudge said in a statement.

“We are asking those who apply for citizenship to understand our values more deeply before they make the ultimate commitment to our nation.”

What kind of questions will be on the new test?

The updated citizenship test will comprise of 20 multiple choice questions, including five new questions on Australian values. The applicant will be required to correctly answer all five of the questions on values, with a mark of at least 75 per cent overall, to pass the test.

There will be no changes to the English language or residency requirements for citizenship.

Examples of questions in the new values section include:

  • Why is it important that all Australian citizens vote to elect the state and federal parliament?

  • Should people in Australia make an effort to learn English?

  • In Australia, can you encourage violence against a person or group of people if you have been insulted?

  • Should people tolerate one another where they find that they disagree?

  • In Australia, are people free to choose who they marry or not marry?

  • In Australia, is it acceptable for a husband to be violent towards his wife if she has disobeyed or disrespected him?

  • Do you agree that men and women should be provided equality of opportunity when pursuing their goals and interests?

  • Should people’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression be respected in Australia?

These aren’t the exact questions in the test and answers will be multiple choice.

An updated version of the Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond resource will also be made available online to assist those preparing for the test.

Source: Australia has announced a new citizenship test. Here’s how it will work

Australian values are the focus of new citizenship test questions

Back to values-based testing.

Will see with the final version is, and the degree to which it has any nuance or not (the question below, given its absence of any discussion of reasonable accommodation, suggests unlikely):

If there’s a clash between a religious so-called law and a parliamentary law, which trumps the other?

That’s just one example of the new types of questions which will appear in the slightly updated citizenship test from November this year as aspiring Austrlaians face a tougher vaules test amid challenges to address social cohesion and foreign interference.

Acting Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge said on Friday that the questions are being inserted to address “our liberal democratic values as opposed to kids facts”.

A new booklet guide will be released to inform people of the changes to the multiple choice test.

Understanding that language acquisition is important for social cohesion and belonging, Mr Tudge announced last week that permanent residents and citizens with poor English skills would be given unlimited language classes but he said there are no plans to introduce an English language test as part of the citizenship process.

Mr Tudge said the questions will be easily understood by anyone who has been in the country for a period of time and who shares Australian values.

Source: Australian values are the focus of new citizenship test questions

Australia: ‘Depressed, anxious, bored, frustrated’: Christmas Island detainees struggle with isolation

Speaks for itself:

More than 30 people transferred to a remote immigration detention facility on Christmas Island have little access to internet and are struggling to contact their families.

The controversial North West Point detention centre on Christmas Island was reopened in August to relieve pressure on the onshore detention network, which had been nearing capacity.

At least 31 people have so far been transferred to the facility. The Australian Border Force declined to confirm the current detainee population on Tuesday.

One of the detainees is Les Reilly, who was transferred to Christmas Island from the Yongah Hill detention centre outside Perth in early August.

He said there were four computers with no video-calling software at the Christmas Island facility, but “you’re lucky if one works at a time”.

Wealthy turn anti-immigrant when their riches are threatened

Interesting psychological study, with the fear of loss (absolute or relative) being the motivator (association/correlation, not necessarily causation):

Anti-immigration sentiment rises when affluent people fear losing their wealth, a psychological study has found.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Jolanda Jetten said harsh attitudes towards immigrants were found in times of economic downturn and relative deprivation—and also in prosperous times.

“Affluent people who fear losing in the short or long term experience collective angst about their group’s future vitality and wealth status,” she said.

“Our research found this fuels negative attitudes toward immigrants and minorities. Even though may have a lot, their fear of falling is associated with opposition to immigration.”

Professor Jetten said the research turned accepted wisdom on its head, showing that society’s most economically vulnerable were not always the most supportive of anti-immigration calls.

“In explaining the rise of right-wing populism, many have pointed to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis as the root cause of rising anti-immigrant sentiments,” she said.

“Experts had long believed that economic downturns triggered perceptions of relative deprivation and chances of civil conflict. Moreover, , so the argument typically goes, increase fear and frustration among poor working-class voters. These dynamics are typically referenced when discussing Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential elections, and the success of populist parties like One Nation in Australia. The assumption that economic crises combined with individual relative deprivation provide for populism, dominate many of the discussions on the origins of right-wing populism and anti-immigrant sentiments more generally.”

But the new research highlighted wealthier people who might be attracted to such populist parties, said Professor Jetten from the UQ School of Psychology.

“It seems that if you have a lot of money, you feel you have a lot to lose and the fear of falling makes you feel vulnerable and concerned about the future,” she said.

The research team, including Dr. Frank Mols and Dr. Nik Steffens, found an association between opposition to immigration and fear of losing wealth, individually or collectively, across four studies involving a total of more than 1000 people.

“In the laboratory, when we made people feel wealthy they were more opposed to immigration when they were made to feel that they might lose some of their wealth in the future than the group who felt their wealth was secure,” Professor Jetten said.

“In a study among Australian participants we found the their own financial future, or that of Australia’s, will be worse than the present, was associated with more opposition to immigration. The results may help us to explain why support for political parties with anti-immigrant messages sometimes comes from the wealthiest in society. This is important at a time when populist parties and leaders with strong anti-immigrant stances are a force to be reckoned with in many countries.”

Source: Wealthy turn anti-immigrant when their riches are threatened

Elsewhere they get it but the Australian media is still living in White Australia

Haven’t seen anything as comprehensive with respect to Canadian media although there have been partial samples showing underrepresentatioon:

Few would argue that Australian media does well at representing cultural diversity. Certainly not in a way you’d expect when we are a multicultural society, often trumpeted as the most successful of its kind in the world.

Now, for the first time, we have the numbers that show us just how representative – or rather, unrepresentative – the state of play is.

In our report, Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories?, we gathered data to provide the first comprehensive picture of who tells and produces stories in Australian television news and current affairs. We examined about 19,000 news and current affairs items broadcast on free to air television during two weeks in June 2019.

In their frequency of appearance on screen, we found that more than 75 per cent of presenters, commentators and reporters have an Anglo-Celtic background. While about 18 per cent have a European background, only 6 per cent of those on screen have an Indigenous or non-European background. Within our sample, none of the commercial networks had more than 5 per cent of presenters, commentators and reporters who have a non-European background.

Compare this with the Australian general population. Based on the 2016 Census figures on ancestry, the Australian Human Rights Commission has previously estimated that 58 per cent of Australians have an Anglo-Celtic background, 18 per cent have a European background, 21 per cent have non-European backgrounds, and 3 per cent identify as Indigenous.

It has been nearly five decades since an official multiculturalism was adopted in Australia. Yet that has had limited visible impact on our media.

To be fair, Australian media isn’t the only arena where this is the case. Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds dominate the leadership ranks of politics, business, the public service and our universities. Our institutions fail to make the most of the talents within our society.

Diversity is often embraced only in name, and not in norms. If there’s a glass ceiling that many women in work hit, then those from minority backgrounds hit a cultural one. According to a survey we conducted as part of our research, more than 85 per cent of non-European background journalists believe having a culturally diverse background represents a barrier to career progression.

Representation, though, matters. It particularly matters for our television media: the medium shows us who we are as a people and as a culture. News and current affairs media have a special role in identifying and telling stories about issues of importance to all Australians.

Yet it’s overwhelmingly journalists who have Anglo-Celtic backgrounds who report, select and produce these stories. The result? Too often, media does a poor job of covering race issues.

For example, just about every time there’s a panel discussion about racism on commercial breakfast television, it involves an all-white panel that has minimal understanding of what has happened. Worse, commercial breakfast television currently seems to thrive on stoking prejudice. For sections of the media, racism is part of their business model.

Even our public broadcasters have their blind spots. For the past 10 years, the ABC’s Insiders program had no journalist who was a person of colour on its panel – something it has only rectified last month. Multicultural broadcaster SBS has recently been criticised for how it treated Indigenous journalists, and for the lack of cultural diversity within its senior management.

It’d be unthinkable for any television network to have a football commentary team on air, where not a single commentator would have experience playing the sport. By the same logic, networks should understand it’s a problem, in a multicultural society, when there’s little or no diversity within its news and current affairs.

Media elsewhere seem to get it. Indeed, Australian media lags significantly behind English-speaking counterparts. What we look like on screen can seem decades behind the United States and the United Kingdom. While they are themselves far from perfect, US and British media organisations have better collection and monitoring of data on their diversity. They’ve also been bolder at setting targets for minority talent.

For change to happen here, Australian media organisations will need to take similar steps. But more than that, there needs to be a cultural change in mindset. Too often, there is unwarranted defensiveness about criticisms concerning diversity. People can wrongly feel that a critique of systemic patterns of under-representation amount to personal attacks, or even a form of “reverse racism”. Deflections and denials come all too easily.

Talk about diversity and race will always spark debate. But it’s hard to argue with the evidence. In the case of our media, the numbers tell us we are still living in a White Australia, even if the White Australia policy was dismantled nearly 50 years ago.

Source: Elsewhere they get it but the Australian media is still living in White Australia

After coronavirus delays, Australian citizenship processing resumes in capital cities

After completely shutting the Canadian citizenship program in late March, June saw a resumption with almost 1,700 new citizens in June (down 92 percent compared to June 2019). Australia had a much smaller decline as this article attests:

The suspension of processing had caused widespread concern among pending applicants, who were worried about their cases being put on hold.

The federal government says the appointments have started in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth and will also resume in Canberra, Hobart and Darwin later this month.

The suspension of processing had caused widespread concern among pending applicants, who were worried about a growing backlog.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the resumption of testing would allow more migrants to progress towards making the pledge of allegiance.

“The interview and tests are important steps in the process of applying for Australian citizenship, ensuring the integrity of our citizenship decisions,” he said.

A record 204,000 people became Australian citizens last financial year despite the coronavirus disruption, while 73,000 online ceremonies were conducted during the pandemic.

There remains a further 150,00 people who have applications pending, including those awaiting citizenship testing and interviews, according to government figures.

Yash-Sanjiv Rungta, who lives in Sarina in Queensland’s Mackay region, said he and his wife are yet to hear back about the status of their application since applying for citizenship in December last year.

The Indian national migrated to Australia six years ago – a decision motivated by his passion for cricket and the country’s “amazing” weather.

“To get Aussie citizenship is a matter of pride and honour,” he told SBS News.

“We are really excited about the prospect of becoming citizens of this country soon… it might take time but definitely we will become citizens one day.”

The government says citizenship appointments will return in capital cities in line with state and territory health restrictions with the safety of staff and applicants to be made a priority.

More than 1,150 people have attended one of these citizenship appointments since they resumed in July.

Mr Rungta said he remains uncertain about when he will get his opportunity, with interviews and testing yet to become available in his regional area.

“If they ask me to attend an interview or test in Brisbane – I don’t mind,” he said.

“(But) I fail to understand why they can’t start it in regional towns – where there is no instance of coronavirus left now.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said that Services Australia conducts citizenship tests on the department’s behalf for clients in regional Australia.

“The department is working closely with Services Australia to resume citizenship testing arrangements in regional Australia as restrictions ease in states and territories, and in accordance with health advice,” the spokesperson said.

In Melbourne, citizenship tests and interviews are yet to be resumed because of the city’s resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Melbourne-based Amul Jani is among those in the city facing the prospect of their citizenship application being further delayed by the COVID outbreak.

“That’s a big test of patience and it is really disappointing – we would have really loved for this to have happened sooner than what it looks like now,” he told SBS News.

Mr Jani migrated from India with his wife Mosiqi six years ago and along with their seven-year-old son Reyansh made their applications to become citizens in March this year.

He said the government should consider introducing virtual options for citizenship processing where face-to-face appointments can’t resume.

“In all sense we consider ourselves as part of this country … we just hope for the best and wait for it to happen,” he said.

Sydney-based Abhijeet Sen, his wife, and six-year-old son are also waiting to undertake the citizenship test and receive an interview invitation.

Almost 1,600 people signed his petition calling for the government to gradually resume the procedures as coronavirus health concerns ease.

Mr Sen said the resumption of the citizenship interviews and testing is welcome.

“That makes me excited … I am really looking forward to it,” he told SBS News.

But he remains wary of a potential backlog of applications because of the coronavirus disruption.

“COVID is not going away anytime soon so even if test is resumed it will be conducted at fairly low levels,” he said.

Face-to-face citizenship ceremonies returned in June.

There are currently around 35,000 people who have their application approved and are awaiting a ceremony, down from 85,000 in April.

Source: After coronavirus delays, Australian citizenship processing resumes in capital cities

Australian citizenship up by 60 per cent this year despite COVID-19 with highest number on record

One has to ask why Australia was able to maintain its citizenship program through virtual ceremonies (60,000) and Canada was not, despite recent ramping up in June and July (about 1,000).

Given that COVID restrictions on larger groups are likely to remain for some time, IRCC needs to continue to ramp up its capacity for online ceremonies even if they are not ideal and less meaningful than in-person events:

More than 200,000 people have pledged their allegiance to Australia and become new citizens in the past 12 months.

In the 2019-20 financial year, 204,817 people were conferred Australian citizenship – a 60 per cent increase on the previous financial year and the highest number on record.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said citizenship was an important part of Australia’s success as a socially cohesive, multicultural nation.

“Becoming an Australian citizen means more than just living and working here – it’s a pledge of allegiance to our nation, our people and our values,” Mr Tudge said.

“When someone becomes a citizen, they make a pledge to uphold Australia’s rights, liberties, laws and democratic values. It represents a willingness to integrate into our successful multicultural nation.”

“Being an Australian citizen is an immense privilege, which brings both rights and responsibilities. I congratulate all those who have taken this important step.”

The Government moved quickly to start online ceremonies when COVID-19 restrictions forced in-person ceremonies to stop, and to date more than 60,000 people have been conferred citizenship this way.

Small in-person ceremonies resumed on 3 June. Online ceremonies will also continue for the foreseeable future for councils unable to host in-person ceremonies in a COVID-safe way.

The Department of Home Affairs has also resumed citizenship interviews and testing, in line with COVID-19 health advice. Small numbers of appointments have begun in Perth and Sydney and more will be rolled out in other locations as soon as possible.

Source: Australian citizenship up by 60 per cent this year despite COVID-19 with highest number on record

Buckingham Palace feared increasing ‘non-British’ immigrants would doom the monarchy in Australia

Wonder whether they had similar fears for Canada (but Canada never had referendums on the monarchy):

Buckingham Palace feared the monarchy would collapse in Australia because of an influx of postwar ‘non-British’ immigrants, newly released correspondence reveals.

Letters exchanged between Governor-General Sir John Kerr and the Queen’s private secretary Sir Martin Charteris were finally released today after four decades.

Along with providing bombshell revelations on Sir John’s decision to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s government in 1975, they reveal how the Palace saw Australia.

Sir Martin believed that without more frequent visits from The Queen and other royals, a more multicultural country would ditch the monarchy.

A year after the dismissal, Sir John wrote to Sir Martin – by then his frequent pen pal – to voice his concerns about the monarchy’s future in Australia.

‘I have been musing about the monarchy as an institution in our part of the world’, he wrote on December 19, 1976.

‘In 1947, 98 per cent [of Australians] were of British stock. By the 1971 census only 88 per cent were so derived.’

Sir John noted that most of these non-British immigrants were Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs and Germans – but there were many other nationalities.

‘Our immigrants come from over one hundred countries including, for example, Egypt and Turkey, Lebanon and other Arab countries.

‘Increasingly, but not yet significantly, we have Asians. Most of these, and most who have come from Europe are from republics and are not directly acquainted with monarchy.’

A year after the dismissal, Sir John wrote to Sir Martin - by now his frequent penpal - with concerns about the monarchy's future in Australia

A year after the dismissal, Sir John wrote to Sir Martin – by now his frequent penpal – with concerns about the monarchy’s future in Australia

Sir Martin replied that the 'increasing non-British element in Australia’s ethnic make up' had 'significant ramifications for the monarchy

Sir Martin replied that the ‘increasing non-British element in Australia’s ethnic make up’ had ‘significant ramifications for the monarchy

Sir Martin replied that the ‘increasing non-British element in Australia’s ethnic make up’ had ‘significant’ ramifications for the monarchy.

‘It is one of the reasons why the monarchy in Australia could not, I believe, long remain a reality without more frequent visits by the Sovereign than was customary in the first half of this century,’ he wrote.

‘The days when The Sovereign of Australia could remain in London, and still remain acceptable are, I think, long past; new immigrants, changing values… would all make this impossible, as well, of course as being wholly undesirable.’

In other letters, the pair discussed movements campaigning for an Australian republic but believed they were formed by a small number of ‘left-wing’ rabble rousers.

Australia held a referendum in November 1999 on whether the country should become a republic, but it was comfortably defeated.

The 211 letters, thousands of pages in all, contain many revelations about the lead-up to and aftermath of the dismissal as Sir John wrestled with what to do.

Also revealed is Mr Whitlam’s ‘rage’ at being ousted and the extent of the backlash against Sir John.

The letters finally showed that the Queen did not order Sir John to dismiss Mr Whitlam.

It has long been speculated that Her Majesty may have undermined Australia’s independence by trying to influence Sir John’s decision.

The letters appear to indicate that the Queen and Sir John did not communicate, at least not directly, and Kerr’s correspondence was only with Sir Martin.

Palace allies battled for decades to keep the documents – which also include correspondence from Her Majesty’s then-private secretary, Martin Charteris – secret, with the National Archives of Australia refusing to release them to the public.

The letters had been deemed personal communication by both the National Archives of Australia and the Federal Court, which meant the earliest they could be released was 2027, and only then with the Queen’s permission.

But the High Court bench earlier this year ruled the letters were property of the Commonwealth and part of the public record, and so must be released.

Source: Buckingham Palace feared increasing ‘non-British’ immigrants would doom the monarchy in Australia