HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed he held high-level discussions with senior colleagues about cuts to Australia’s migration program.
Mr Dutton today said he supported Malcolm Turnbull’s denial of the revelation, despite going on to confirm a majority of the original story about the talks, which was published in The Australian reports.
The Australian reported yesterday that Mr Dutton proposed cutting Australia’s yearly maximum immigration intake from 190,000 to 170,000.
Mr Turnbull described the report as “false” and “completely untrue”.
“Of course I support the comments of the Prime Minister,” Mr Dutton told The Australian.
“I’ll add to that though, because as you would expect, and as every immigration minister would have, I have canvassed different options around the composition of the program.
“We have huge surges, for example, in the number of international students coming through, which is a great thing for our economy. We have surges in the numbers of visitors coming through, which are both reflected in that figure.
“We need to talk more about the figures and the impact, the economic benefit of tourism, of those international visitors.
“So yes of course I look at different options but the government has taken a decision to set the number at 190,000, I think it has been roughly that since about 2012.”
Earlier this year, former Prime Minister Tony Abbot proposed that the migration intake be cut, warning that it could cost up to $5 billion over four years.
Mr Abbott said a cut would lower the cost of living, reduce pressure on infrastructure and the property market, and reduce crime rates.
In late February, Mr Dutton dismissed Mr Abbott’s proposal at the National Press Club.
Mr Dutton said the current immigration cap struck the right balance.
“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,” Mr Dutton told the National Press Club.