Wednesday 13 December 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 13/12/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Home affairs minister Clare O’Neil and immigration minister Andrew Giles

Image: Alamy

POLITICS / Andrew Mueller

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It’s difficult to recall any politician seeking election – let alone winning – while promising to increase immigration. Even those who recognise that immigration is necessary or desirable for their country take pains to appear tough on it. This is a reflection of the fact that even (perhaps especially) electorates that benefit from immigration tend to say that there should be less of it. Brexit, the presidency of Donald Trump and other populist upheavals were largely expressions of this.

Australia’s government is the latest to take a hard line – and this is a government of the Labor Party, which in Australia’s present political landscape is usually the most hospitable to immigration. According to a new migration strategy announced by home affairs minister Clare O’Neil and immigration minister Andrew Giles, Labor now promises to halve it by 2025. In the 12 months to June 2023, a record 510,000 people came to live in Australia, an extraordinary number that amounts to about 2 per cent of the country’s population. If all of them lived in a theoretical new city, it would be Australia’s sixth-largest.

On the form of previous waves of immigration, the overwhelming majority will become decent, productive citizens (and this Australian wishes them all the best). But it’s quite a crowd to take in, especially during a brutal accommodation crisis. Rents in most of Australia’s bigger cities, which were horrendous a year ago, have since risen by double-digit percentages.

So far, Australia’s government appears to be framing the issue purely in terms of practicalities without any fear-mongering or, indeed, misty-eyed sentimentalising. This is absolutely the correct approach. Though the global discussion of immigration has certainly not been advanced by the paranoid bloviating of xenophobes, it is not much more helpful when loud pro-immigration voices shriek that any reservations about it or restrictions upon it are demonstrations of heartlessness or racism. Cars are good and so are seatbelts and traffic lights. Likewise, immigration is good and so is the dispassionate regulation of it.

Andrew Mueller is a contributing editor at Monocle and presenter of ‘The Foreign Desk’ on Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.



On the right track

Ukrainian Railways launched a new night service this week, bolstering the schedule of international departures at Kyiv’s central railway station. Running from Vienna via Budapest to the town of Chop in western Ukraine, the route will connect passengers to Kyiv with a sleeper service. The announcement comes as part of a wider revival of European overnight rail travel, with the first service in almost a decade departing Berlin for Paris on Monday. But it’s also a sign of how committed Ukrainian Railways is in its aim to connect the embattled country to the rest of Europe through train travel, with services from Kyiv to Warsaw and Prague announced this autumn and a connection to the German capital expected in 2024.

The company has emerged as one of Ukraine’s most dependable transport providers after the country’s airspace was shut following Russia’s invasion in early 2022, providing routes for fleeing citizens and taking international leaders across the border in safety. “Providing a reliable service to passengers isn’t just a vital part of our company’s work,” Yevhen Liashchenko, chairman of the Ukrainian Railways board, tells The Monocle Minute. “It’s our social mission.”

Potent brew: South Korea’s first Tim Hortons shop in Seoul’s Gangnam district


Latte arrival

Canadian coffee brand Tim Hortons, which launches its first shop in Seoul tomorrow, has announced that it will open 150 outlets in South Korea within the next five years. With many in the country using cafés as their second home, office or library, the coffee market has rapidly grown. This is part of an Asia-wide trend. Demand for the beverage on the continent has risen by 6 per cent year on year – about three times faster than in the rest of the world.

East Asia’s largest coffee market is China. Yesterday, it toppled the US as the country with the most branded coffee shops, increasing their numbers by 58 per cent over the past 12 months. The rise of coffee houses demonstrates how Asian markets are increasingly buying into the social appeal of coffee and developing a taste for artisan blends in speciality shops. Though it might take years for Tim Hortons to establish itself in South Korea, it’s clear that the region is buzzing with potential.

Illustration: Karin Kellner

Advent gift guide / Global

Word to the wise

Looking for the perfect present this holiday season? Then let us inspire you with our Advent gift guide. Every day until Christmas, we will be showcasing one item featured in our Alpino newspaper, which is out now in kiosks and available from our online shop.

Meisterstück pen by Montblanc
Receiving a handwritten note is always appreciated. That’s all the more reason to mark the occasion when you write one. Montblanc Meisterstück fountain pens are the epitome of form and function, and are perfect for when you want to give your messages a personal touch.

Beyond the Headlines

Calm spot: Saint Laurent’s new shop on the Champs-Élysées

Image: Saint Laurent

The List / RETAIL

Open for business

Physical retail is expected to flourish in 2024, with recent launches of luxury flagships proving that creating new shops remains a smart business decision. Here’s our round-up of the most exciting retail embassies to open this week.

Saint Laurent has opened its largest-ever shop on Paris’s Champs-Élysées, fulfilling the dream of the label’s late founder when he first arrived in the French capital.

Stockholm-based label Toteme has opened its first European shop outside Sweden in London’s Mayfair. The UK outpost will stock the brand’s debut jewellery collection and will also showcase Scandinavian artworks.

Italian ready-to-wear house Moncler has opened a shop in the Swiss resort of St Moritz. The boutique will exclusively stock the performance-led Grenoble collection to celebrate the brand’s long association with the mountains and technical excellence.

Image: Peter Flude

Monocle Radio / The Menu

The Monocle Christmas Market, London

Tom Webb, Monocle’s deputy head of radio, guides us through the delicious drinks offering at the London leg of The Monocle Christmas Market.


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