Tony Abbott’s Coalition will cut net migration levels if it wins government, in a bid to stop Australia’s population reaching its predicted size of almost 36 million in 2050.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison yesterday told The Australian the Rudd government had allowed immigration to rise too high and the population figure that Treasury’s Intergenerational Report predicted last September for 2050 was unsustainable.
Mr Morrison said the Coalition would not allow the average net overseas migration of more than 300,000 a year that had occurred since the Rudd government took power to continue.
“We want to return to the levels we pursued in government,” he said. “A net overseas migration intake of 300,000 (as occurred under the Rudd government) would not be a feature of future Coalition policy.”
Mr Morrison said the current population growth rate of 2.1 per cent put Australia ahead of Canada, Britain and the US.
“It even puts us ahead of China and India,” he said. “It’s principally fuelled by net overseas migration. A natural increase in the fertility rate has (increased it) but what has been driving the numbers . . . has been spiralling rates of net overseas migration.”
Mr Morrison said the Coalition would support skilled migrants coming, but was likely to cut other elements of the program, including family reunion.
“It’s about getting your immigration policy under control,” he said. “The migration program should be tight and focused on skills and productivity.”
The Opposition Leader last night backed Mr Morrison’s comment that the prediction of a population of 35.9 million was not sustainable, saying the roads of Sydney and Melbourne were already choked.
But Mr Abbott stopped short of committing the Coalition to a cut in migration, saying decisions on the intake should be taken on a “year by year basis”.
Fingers crossed that they don’t get into power!