Australia’s federal government is expected to announce policies that will see immigration intake halt at 160,000 while directing a large percentage of skilled migrants to settle outside Sydney and Melbourne for at least five years before attempting to move.
According to The Australian, the Cabinet has already authorised changes, that limit annual intake of permanent migrants to 30,000. At the same time more incentives for foreign students will be created in order to drive the influx away from the two major cities.
The Liberals’ Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) are reportedly aimed at relieving congestion in Sydney and Melbourne, however, said policy would also affect the government’s budget estimates, given that population growth from migration is linked to economic growth.
“It’s always the right time to be addressing the issues and needs that the Australian public are concerned about and want addressed,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Adelaide earlier today.
“This debate about population growth and migration has nothing to do with those other issues that have been the subject of recent focus.”
Scott Morrison argued that discussions about population should not be “hijacked” by other debates on race or tolerance.
“We’ve seen what happens when these important practical debates are hijacked by these other extremist views, which occur from both the right and from the left,” he continued, adding that he is determined to not see the serious population growth management issues taken off course.
“I have no purchase in those agendas, I have no truck with those agendas, and I denounce them absolutely. When I’m in a position to announce our migration cap, I’ll do it then,” he said.
Meanwhile, Greens leader Richard Di Natale questioned the timing of the debate in relation to the Christchurch tragedy.
“Three days after a massacre the prime minister decides to land this into the national conversation,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
While NSW and Victoria are receiving most migrants to the point of congestion according to the PM, South Australia calls for at least 5000 skilled migrants to strengthen its economy.
The Federal Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said last year that planning measures would need to be implemented to manage changing patterns of migration in Australia. He said in October unplanned population growth had led to an imbalance in the rates of settlement across the country.
On another note, that of safety, Mr Morrison has warned against “tribalists” hijacking policy arguments, declaring the migration issue “must not be appropriated as a proxy debate for racial, religious or ethnic sectarianism”.
“When we disagree better, we engage with respect, rather than questioning each other’s integrity and morality,” he told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne.
“Tribalists constantly seek to appropriate legitimate policy issues and public concerns as a tool to promote their separatist and exclusive agendas. To contort and misrepresent disagreement in the worst possible terms.”
These comments came before announcing a $55 million grant allocated towards toughening security at mosques, churches, synagogues, temples and religious schools “in response to growing concerns about extremism in the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch”.
Grants will reportedly range from $50,000 to $1.5 million for enhancements including CCTV cameras, lighting, fencing, bollards, alarms, security systems and public address systems.
As religious leaders prepare for parliamentary meetings later today, the news of a Geelong mosque receiving online threats by an anonymous troll have emerged.
An image of army gear was posted with a threat directly naming the Geelong Mosque surfaced in the dark web, 9News reported without repeating the threat which was picked up by police on Sunday.
Lastly, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA), issued a statement today stressing that the Morrison Government’s proposed cut to Australia permanent migrant intake by 30,000 in order to ease congestion sends the wrong message to the Australian community.
“FECCA welcomes the Morrison Government’s infrastructure spending commitments in the lead up to the Federal Budget,” said FECCA Chair Ms Mary Patetsos.
“These commitments are a recognition of the need to invest in infrastructure in order to keep up with population growth in Australia’s major cities. However it is extremely important that following the atrocities in Christchurch political leaders not conflate the issue of congestion with migration. To do so is not only erroneous but irresponsible. Care must be taken at this time to reassure Australians from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds that they belong and are welcome in Australia.”