Peter Dutton calls for migration cut: ‘We have to reduce the numbers’
Home affairs minister says some Australia cities ‘overcrowded’ and migrants who are ‘going to be a burden’ should be rejected
Peter Dutton has said Australia must reduce its intake of migrants “where we believe it’s in our national interest”.
The home affairs minister told 2GB Radio on Thursday the Coalition had already “considerably” reduced the number of people entering Australia – by 100,000 on the levels when Labor was in government – and was not tied to the current level of migration.
Dutton was responding to Jim Molan’s first Senate speech on Wednesday in which the new Liberal senator said he has concerned legal migration was “in excess of the capacities of our cities to absorb”.
Since 2017 the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has suggested a reduction as part of a “conservative manifesto” to win back Coalition voters, including those who intend to vote for One Nation, whose leader Pauline Hanson advocates stopping migration.
Dutton said it was a “perfectly legitimate argument” that Australia’s cities were “overcrowded” including “gridlocked traffic in the mornings” and use of services like hospitals.
“We have to try and encourage people out into regions, we have to reduce the numbers where we believe it’s in our national interest,” he said. “It’s come back considerably and if we have to bring it back further, if that’s what required and that’s what’s in our country’s best interests … that is what we will do.”
Dutton said some state governments had handled capital city infrastructure better than others so levels of overcrowding were “a different story as you go around the country”.
The home affairs minister said the migration program should always “be operated in a way that it acts in our best interests” such as refusing to allow migrants who were “going to be a burden” in favour of people who “make a good contribution”.
“But we do have problems where people are concentrating in and around Sydney, in and around other capital cities, including Melbourne. We need to try and disperse people out.”
Dutton said some regions and sectors like abattoirs in regional areas needed a foreign or temporary workforce because “the local kids won’t do the work”.
On Thursday, Molan, a former general and one of the architects of the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy, said control of the borders and immigration “are important to me as they are to most Australians”.
“We now effectively control our borders in a way that few now trust the opposition to do,” he said. “However, I am concerned that the level of legal migration … is in excess of the capacities of our cities to absorb, both culturally or in terms of infrastructure.
“We are approaching limits on this, if indeed we have already exceeded them. I don’t have the answers, but I certainly have the concerns.”
Molan did not express contrition for sharing videos from anti-Muslim group Britain First, but rather thanked the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for backing him over the controversy.
Molan has previously suggested he shared the videos to spark conversation about law and order rather than to suggest Muslims are responsible for violence.
At a press conference on Thursday the jobs minister, Michaelia Cash, praised Molan as an “outstanding individual” who had helped the Coalition stop people smuggling boats.
Asked about his comments on migration, Cash distanced herself by noting that Liberals are “able to express an opinion”.
“It doesn’t actually mean the government is going to agree with your opinion,” she said.