“And I don’t want to sound xenophobic. It’s not a xenophobic thing. It’s an economic question.”
How to appeal to prejudice
One of the tricks of politics is to appeal to prejudices without altering those being demonised.
Daley is no racist. He is no orator either. He was bluntly articulating one of the great preoccupations of the NSW working class: the fear their children will not be educated or motivated enough to obtain good-paying jobs and enter the Sydney property market.
The concerns run so deep through society that they have morphed into bipartisanship. Both NSW Labor and the Coalition advocate for state input into the federal-determined immigration level, for the purpose of lowering it.
Both sides gloss over the economic benefits of skilled immigrants, which are well documented. Foreign labour is used by business to increase profits, which generates more employment and taxes.
Creating jobs and societies
Asian PhDs do not steal jobs. They create them, which is part of the reason NSW’s unemployment rate is a historically low 3.9 per cent. Their children excel too, propelled by immigrants’ desire to integrate, succeed and contribute.
A thriving economy creates costs, though. Many less-skilled citizens have been pushed into fringe suburbs such as Penrith, where Premier Gladys Berejiklian campaigned this week with former prime minister John Howard.
Both political parties are sensitive to the challenges of living far from the centre of economic activity. The Coalition this week said it would limit weekly charges on the train network to $50 a person. The Labor Party plans to subsidise a Transurban toll road in western Sydney by about $250 million over four years.
Supporting the economically marginalised reduces class resentment. Stoking the victimhood of low-paid whites increases societal tension.
Daley says his remarks were referring to Asia, the region, not Asians as a race. Four days to go before an election he has a shot at winning, he had better hope the 5 per cent of people in NSW of Chinese heritage believe him.