fake news - Live Mint story

When news houses are under critical pressure to grab and secure viewers’ attention/visitors online, a genuine and at times flippant piece of information can be transformed into a sensational – attention grabbing headline – producing a completely ‘false’ and erroneous piece at the worst of times with racist overtones. In short – viewers/readers are delivered – virulent and vicious ‘fake news’ instead.


Why am I talking about it?

because LiveMint.com, an Indian news portal with its ‘inventive’ journalistic flair and spin has painted Australia in a very bad light. It is running a news item on Australia with the following headline:

LiveMint is running a news item on Australia with the following headline (see pic above):

Indians planning Australia migration may face hurdles as Canberra limits intake

The source of the óriginal’ story (before inventive flair was applied to it) is a two line text including a Key Assumptions number (one of many in the Economic and Fiscal Update released on July 23) on Net Overseas Migration. If you read the news below the headline – you will find it to be completely misplaced and absolutely without foundation.

The news was based on the following text in the Update document:

  • Net overseas migration is significantly affected by international travel restrictions and constraints on the ability of applicants to meet visa application requirements, and is assumed to fall from 232,000 in 2018-19 to be 154,000 in 2019-20 and 31,000 in 2020-21.
                          • Box 2.1: Key assumptions (continued)

To a lay reader the headline will suggest that Australia is downsizing the number of its migrant intake so dramatically that all those aspiring, ambitious Indians planning to come to Australia will feel being pushed back.

Far from it.

The document is not a migration policy document. It does not discuss Australia’s migration policy settings or preferences. The document is an Economic and Fiscal Update on budgetary measures and the Key Assumptions are discussed as part of Australia’s economic growth projections in light of its population size and its growth.

Australia’s population growth is assumed to remain positive but lower over the forecast period. This is mainly due to lower net overseas migration… Future migration levels remain highly uncertain, due to the path of the pandemic and the nature and duration of measures taken to contain its spread at home and abroad.

It discusses not government’s migration policy but migrants’ movements in the context of COVID-19 travel bans. Read below:

The Government implemented international travel bans in March 2020. This prevented all arrivals on visitor and temporary migration visas and prevented Australian citizens and permanent residents from departing Australia.


Between July and December 2020, only citizens, permanent residents, New Zealanders and a small number of international students are assumed to be able to travel to Australia, based on announced policy to date.


From 1 January to 30 June 2021, it is assumed that the travel ban is lifted, but that a two-week quarantine period is required of arrivals to Australia. This leads to the resumption of arrivals by temporary and permanent migrants, but at lower levels overall than normal.

The reference to lower numbers (of overseas migration) is axiomatically cloaked in the context of measures (already put in place in March like international border closures) by the government to fight the COVID-19 threat. All potential international migrants are fully cognizant of the flow on impact of international borders closures since March this year.

And the document – at no place discusses migration intake from India.

Excerpts of the text above show how erroneous the ‘inventive’ journalistic skills delivering the ‘fake news’ can be. It would be a matter of good practice to refer to the source document(s) by the news portals – before employing their potential ‘eye-grabbing’- super ‘inventive’ panache to agency feeds.


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