Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces immigration cuts

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had stated he will cut the number of migrants coming to Australia. As Cabinet determines a new population policy, PM Morrison predicted the impending changes would lower the annual immigration target from its cap of 190,000, saying, “Population growth has played a key role in our economic success. But I also know Australians in our biggest cities are concerned about population.” 162,000 permanent visas were approved in the twelve months ending June 30.

A Fairfax – Ipsos poll in October 2018 found 45 percent of voters supported a reduction in the annual intake as the population climbs past 25 million, and 52 percent backed the idea of keeping or increasing the number of immigrants coming to Australia. The survey showed a narrow majority of Coalition supporters wanted fewer migrants, with 54 percent saying they wanted “a little or a lot” cut from the annual intake compared toy 44 percent of Labour voters who said the same.

"The roads are clogged; the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments. I hear what you are saying. I hear you loud and clear," PM Morrison said, noting "community sentiment" towards migration must be considered in addition to the economic impacts. He has requested state premiers create their own population plans to be discussed at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting, scheduled for December 12.

At the annual Bradfield Lecture, PM Morrison said the following: "The old model of a single, national number determined by Canberra is no longer fit for purpose … My approach will be to move away from top-down discussions about population to set our migration intake caps. I anticipate that this will lead to a reduction in our current migration settings … It is the states who build hospitals, approve housing developments, plan roads and know how many kids will be going into their schools in the future … The states and territories know better than any what the population carrying capacity is for their existing and planned infrastructure and services. So, I plan to ask them, before we set our annual caps."

Reasserting the economic benefits of migration to Australia, PM Morrison conceded population growth also had its costs, and Sydney and Melbourne had become "a victim of our success", saying, "Here in Sydney migrants accounted for around 70 percent of population growth last year. This has created its own pressure points – and pressure points in population always manifest themselves in housing and infrastructure." New figures show Melbourne is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to halve the state's migration intake.

The center-right Coalition government believes it can revamp the current migration settings to better disperse new arrivals in regional areas. While the annual intake will be lowered, the changes may see the government increase the proportion of skilled migrants coming to Australia at the expense of others. Citing the mining boom, PM Morrison said the ability for migrants to move to areas where they had a good chance of finding a job was essential.