Senior Federal government ministers have criticised former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s call to cut Australia’s migration intake, rubbishing Mr Abbott’s claims of negative social and economic impact to the country.
Treasurer Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned Mr Abbott’s plan to lower the permanent migration cap of 190,000 to 110,000 would damage the Federal Budget over four years and not solve problems Mr Abbott claimed the lowering migration levels would fix.
“The underlying cash balance would be impacted to the tune of about $4-5 billion by that sort of structural change to the permanent intake in Australia,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison, who said Mr Abbott did not discuss the issue with him said social and economic issues were separate to permanent migration levels.
“Migrants make contributions to building Australia,” Mr Morrison said.
“Permanent migrants, particularly skilled migrants, start businesses, they get jobs, they pay taxes, they invest in their communities, they run sports clubs, they make things happen.”
Meanwhile Mr Dutton said the Federal Government found the middle ground.
“I want to bring people in as young as possible, as highly skilled as possible so they’re paying taxes for longer, they’re contributing to Australian society and they’re helping build our nation,” he said during a speech at the National Press Club.
“That’s been the wonderful history of migration in our country.”
However, Mr Abbott said a review of the migration intake in a speech to the Sydney Institute on Tuesday could resolve a number of issues if the level was reduced.
“My issue is not immigration; it’s the rate of immigration at a time of stagnant wages, clogged infrastructure, soaring house prices and, in Melbourne at least, ethnic gangs that are testing the resolve of police,” Mr Abbott said.
“It’s a basic law of economics that increasing the supply of labour depresses wages; and that increasing demand for housing boosts price.”
He also criticised the Federal Government and the Opposition for not talking about the issue.
However, Mr Morrison said in a later press conference said demand driven migration had help reduce shortages in sectors in the economy.
He added reducing migrant levels in those areas could be “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”