The issue of Australia’s high migration intake of 190,000 per year has begun to cause much concern in the community, this has been backed up by public polling on the subject with 64% believing our rate of immigration has been too high this past decade. The major cities of Sydney and Melbourne are unable to keep infrastructure up with their growing populations, house prices continue to rise and wage growth is sluggish which increased immigration is blamed on. Lack of integration and crime are social problems that immigration from the Middle East and Africa has brought.
Most of the mainstream media considers criticism of our current immigration program to be racist. There are some exceptions such as commentators like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones. Our political class is not only afraid of the racist label but are addicted to the revenue to government coffers that further migration brings.
The Coalition while it has successfully stopped the boats still welcomes those who come by plane. Bill Shorten was criticised for an advertising campaign to vowing to put Australian jobs first and New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley was labelled racist for highlighting the issue of white flight from the inner suburbs of Sydney.
Some politicians have been listening to this community concern. Earlier in the year former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s called for Australia’s permanent migration intake to be reduced to 110,000, however, was slapped down by Treasurer Scott Morrison as economically irresponsible.
Pauline Hanson seeing the lack of political leadership on immigration has called for a plebiscite on the issue, in the same manner, one was done on the issue of same-sex marriage. Another former Prime Minister John Howard added his voice of concern on the issue that immigration levels needed to be discussed. He highlighted that for community support for Australia’s immigration program will drop if it is left unchecked. Liberal Senator Dean Smith today called for a parliamentary inquiry into population growth as Australia’s population approaches 25 million.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton while he did criticise Tony Abbott’s immigration reduction proposal it appears he was quietly listening as it has been revealed that the permanent immigration intake for the 2017-18 period was down 10% to 163,000, a ten year low. This drop in the immigration intake has been to attributed crackdown on fraudulent claims and more visa refusals with a 46 per cent rise in visa refusals and a 17 per cent increase in application withdrawals.
Peter Dutton when speaking to Ben Fordham on 2GB said “The government has had real focus on making sure not only we restored integrity to our border but (also) to our permanent migration program” and that they had ended Labor’s practice of “ticking and flicking applications” adding “If we’re right, we end up with a better migration intake”.
When interviewed yesterday on Sky News’ Speers on Sunday program Peter Dutton said his changes to the migration intake would benefit the Australian economy “It’s a positive one because if we’re bringing more productive people in then there’s more economic benefit for our country and there’s also greater societal benefit as well because if people are working if people are coming to our country”.
Dutton also said this change in policy meant that there was a clear difference between the major parties on immigration at the next election “Bill Shorten will be promising to migrate more people to Australian than what this government is prepared to do.”
While Malcolm Turnbull is seen as soft on conservative and cultural issues Peter Dutton has proven himself to be the conservative warrior the government needs and would appear with this reduction in immigration to have once again walked his tough talk. 163,000 immigrants a year is still high but at least someone in government is beginning to listen on this issue.