Dutton doubles down on migration

May 21, 2024

20 May 2024
Dominic Giannini
The Nightly

 Opposition Leader hits back at critics with policy looming as key election  fight
 Peter Dutton has pushed back against criticism of the Coalition's proposal to  dramatically cut migration, claiming the Government's action meant  Australians were being forced "out of homes".
 The Coalition says it will reduce Australia's permanent migration intake by a  quarter, lowering it to about 140,000 in its first two years if returned to  government, before raising it to 150,000 and then 160,000 over the following  two years.
 In his Budget reply speech last week, Mr Dutton, above, pledged to  "restore the Australian dream" of home ownership something he said  had been cruelled the Albanese Government's policy.
 The country is in the midst of a housing crisis, with shortage's around the  nation a situation Mr Dutton said would only be exacerbated by the  Government's plans for a migrant intake of 1.7 million in the next five  years.
 The Budget forecasts a fall in the intake from 395,000 this financial year to  260,000 next year and then 255,000 in the subsequent year, followed by two  years when will fall to 235,000.
 "You've got a Treasurer at the moment who's willing to sacrifice homes  for Australians because he's got a migration program to prop up the failed  Budget," Mr Dutton said.
 "I want to make sure that our migration program works for our country,  not against the interests of our country.
 "That's exactly what we've done in relation to this policy. I want to  see young homeowners realise their dream again, not stuck in a rental  roundabout." Labor has criticised the Coaliton policy, saying it would  impact the economy and skills base. But shadow home affairs minister James  Paterson said Labor couldn't have it both ways as the Government spruiked a  halving of net migration to about 260,000.
 "How could it possibly be the case that the Labour Party reducing  migration is fine but the Liberal Party reducing migration by a little bit  more is somehow terrible? I think that's an absurd argument," he told  ABC radio on Monday.
 "Clearly, neither will have a disastrous effect on the economy. We're  still going to bring in significant people 140,000 permanent residents under  us but we think it's much more sustainable than what Labor has been  doing." The plan would ease pressure on the housing market, health  sector and congestion, Senator Paterson said.
 But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the strategy had not been thought  through.
 "When you look, the detail simply isn't there, no costings, no  understanding about impact on the economy," he said.
 "They're a group that just appeal to their own base, say things that their  own base wants to hear without putting forward clear, fully costed  policies." When asked on Sunday if the cut to migration numbers would  hurt the regions, Nationals leader David Littleproud said the plan would  address the nation's pressure points while acknowledging economic  necessities.
 "This is about making the tough decisions that prioritise where the  economy needs the support to continue to grow and particularly in the  regions," he said.
 For example, Mr Littleproud said he would work with the Liberal Party to  ensure regional universities that relied heavily on international students  continued receiving student numbers and support.
 The Coalition would also set up an agriculture visa that would allow migrants  to work in regional Australia in farming jobs and periphery roles.
 "They simply don't have the labour force without them," Mr  Littleproud said.
 Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Opposition's plan would divide the Australian  community and hurt the economy. "(Dutton's) Budget reply was dark, it was  divisive intentionally so and the net effect of all that would be that he  would destroy the Budget," he said.

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