Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has vowed to cut migrant numbers as part of his government’s population policy.
During a speech on Monday evening, Morrison said there would be a reduction in the current population cap, noting the states are playing a bigger role when it comes to population capacity.
The comments were made at the Project Sydney Bradfield Oration event. According to The Guardian, Morrison said adjustments would mean migration levels are reduced in the next 12 months. Migration levels are already 30,000 a year below the current cap, with Australia accepting 162,417 permanent migrants in the past year, according to the publication. This makes it the lowest level in 10 years and a decrease of more than 10 per cent on the previous year.
During his speech, he also said it was people in Australia’s biggest cities that were concerned about a growing population.
“They are saying: enough, enough, enough. The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments,” he said. “This is what is being reflected back to us and we can hear that. That’s why we very much need to improve how we manage population growth in this country.”
Sunrise Correspondent Nathan Templeton explained it was a major shift in attitude from the PM. As Treasurer under Malcolm Turnbull, Morrison opposed calls from former prime minister Tony Abbott and others to cut immigration numbers. Morrison also explained earlier this year that a cutback in arrivals could wipe as much as $5 billion off the federal budget.
On Monday, an exclusive poll published by Fairfax suggested that Australians did want to see a reduction in the number of people relocating to Australia, while Sunrise explained Morrison said it was important for him to listen to the community on the matter.
He promised an increase in skilled migrants and that a higher proportion would go to regional areas. The PM also asked for more input from the states and territories so they set their own levels of immigration.While he did talk about reducing numbers, Morrison also used his speech to talk about the benefits of migration, pointing out the value they bring to the economy and workforce.
His comments come just months after Australia’s population hit 25 million, 33 years earlier than was predicted two decades ago.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mass migration and an unexpectedly high number of births have led to the surge, with net overseas migration accounting for 62 per cent of it alone.
One of the biggest migrant groups was found to be Chinese – as well as British, Kiwi and Indian – with eight per cent of the growth coming from migrants moving from China. In fact, in 2016, a huge 28 per cent of Aussies were born overseas.