The Prime Minister has responded to claims his government’s proposed cap on immigration is “dog whistling” about immigration and asylum seekers, saying he is disappointed with the comparison.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten yesterday slammed the Morrison government’s proposed cap of 160,000 new immigrants per year.
Mr Shorten said he didn’t take issue with the policy itself, but took issue with the timing of it in the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch.
“The dog whistling by political leaders about immigration and asylum seekers must stop,” Mr Shorten said.
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. So I repeat, as leader of the Labor Party, one of the two parties who can form a government in this country, dog whistling about immigration and asylum seekers needs to stop, and it needs to stop because the crazies, the extremists, they take comfort when there is approval given to go down this slippery path of starting to bag immigration.”
But thePrime Minister spoke again about the policy this morning, appearing on Sunrise to explain the detail of the proposed legislation’s roll out.
David Koch questioned the timing of the announcement, asking Mr Morrison if changes to immigration numbers were appropriate in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.
But the PM ensured the policy announcement was about “investments” and “congestion busting on our roads” and “social cohesion”.
“It’s a plan to work with the states and territories who will get an increase say about the intakes from less than one fifth to more than one quarter.
“It is about managing our population growth and I think to conflate it with other issues is very disappointing.
“I understand why Labor would be sensitive about this and I listen to Mr Daley’s comments in NSW.
“I found those comments about Asian immigrants to be very upsetting and offensive and I think Mr Shorten should disassociate himself from those comments.”
NSW Labor leader Michael Daley is in turmoil ahead of the state election this weekend after a video emerged of him making remarks about youth employment and Asian migration in Sydney.
The Morrison Government today announced a plan to reduce the cap on its migration program to address the issue of population growth.
The Government will reduce the migration ceiling from 190,000 to 160,000 places a year.
It will also introduce new regional visas for skilled foreign workers, which will force them to live in regional Australia for three years before they are able to access permanent residence.
As an incentive, Skilled Employers Sponsored Regional and Skilled Work Regional visa holders will be given priority processing and will have access to a larger pool of eligible jobs.
It will also offer international students at regional universities an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa as an incentive.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison cited lengthy traffic times, crippling public transport infrastructure and strained education and health services as among the priorities in the new policy.
“Better targeting our intake will address skills shortages and benefit the economy as a whole. It will take pressure the off in those cities that are straining, while supporting the cities and towns that are keen to have stronger growth.
“Managing population growth isn’t just about the migration intake. It’s about infrastructure, it’s about city and regional deals, it’s about our congestion busting projects, removing traffic bottlenecks, it’s about funding the essential services Australians rely on and providing key skills to rural and regional areas.
“Our plan marks a turning point in the way population is treated across government, with a move to greater collaboration, transparency and longer term planning. It is a comprehensive plan that engages and partners with our States and Territories and local governments.
“Our plan, working across all levels of government, will help to ensure that Australia continues to be one of the most liveable places in the worlincluding for generations to come.”
The Government has pledged $75 billion in infrastructure to alleviate transport issues associated with population growth, as well as establish a Centre for Population to ensure a consistent body on population growth.
Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said the plan will ease concerns about infrastructure and services, particularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
“Australia has thrived from a steady population growth and is the most successful multicultural nation in the world,” he said. “But over the last two decades, the infrastructure and services have not kept pace, causing congestion on our roads particularly in Melbourne, Sydney and South East Queensland.
“At the same time, many of our smaller cities and regional areas are crying out for more people.
“Some regional areas simply cannot fill the jobs available. There are an estimated 47,000 job vacancies in regional Australia today.
“Our population plan will ease congestion on the big capitals, while supporting those smaller cities and regions that want to grow.
“It is an integrated plan, that eases the migration rate, builds the necessary infrastructure and plans for the future.”
The Morrison Government first floated the idea of new visa rules for migrants in May last year.
“There are many regions in Australia that are now facing skilled labour shortages and we are working with regional leaders and businesses to find solutions,” Mr Tudge told news.com.au at the time.
“Many migrants are sponsored for permanent residence on the basis of an intent to live and work in regional Australia but don’t stay long in the region once they have their permanent visa. This is obviously not ideal and contributes to the labour shortages.”