Australian businessman Dick Smith has come to Tony Abbott’s defence and echoed his calls for a mass reduction in immigration.
Smith, a long-time supporter of an ‘Australia first’ way of thinking, told 2GB’s Chris Kenny that Australian cities would not survive if immigrants continued to flood the shores.
“I can tell everyone who’s listening, we have total control,” he said. “If we put the immigration level back to 70,000 a year, which is still very high by world standards… you’d end up stabilising our population not going to these ridiculous increases.”
Kenny said a lot of politicians were afraid to tighten boarder laws for fear of being branded racist or xenophobic.
“I’ve spoke to lots of politicians and they’ve said, ‘I agree with you we should have a population policy’,” Smith said. “You can’t just keep increasing it until you have 1 billion people, one day you have to stop.
“They said, ‘look Dick, I couldn’t talk about it because I’ve been made out to be racist or xenophobic or against immigrations’.
“Someone said, ‘It’s only economists and cancer cells who think we can have endless growth in a finite world’ — you can’t.”
Immigration has been a hot topic in politics over the past week, following Abbott’s much-publicised calls for a cull. The former PM wants to reduce immigration numbers to levels last seen during the Howard-era.
According to Australia’s official parliamentary library, the migration program’s planned intake rose from 74,000 to 140,000 per year between 1996 and 2007, when Howard was in power, with the annual rate sitting at around 110,000 for most of that period.
While they rose sharply under Kevin Rudd’s Labor government — from 152,800 to more than 190,000 in 2009 — they fell again following the global financial crisis.
Abbott has complained that numbers are once again on the rise and says the country needs to slow immigration until it gets a handle on stagnating wages and increasing house prices.
A fired up Smith claimed suggestions that population issues could be managed by sending immigrants to live in rural areas were ludicrous.
“Everyone says we should get people to go out to the country, but farmers have now got automatic robots to help them do the fruit picking, so everything’s being automated, those huge trucks in the minding industry are now automated and run from Perth,” he explained.
Despite calls for the cull, Liberal frontbenchers have dismissed the idea and encouraged Abbott to back down.
In a radio interview last Thursday, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said Abbott’s plan would be like cutting “off your nose to spite your face”.
He added that the proposal would cost the economy around $4-5 billion in the next four years.