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'Fair dinkum process' on migrant cuts, says PM

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Scott Morrison says a “fair dinkum process” will ensure the immigration cap is lowered in next year’s federal budget.

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The prime minister has signalled he is planning to cut the annual permanent migration intake by 30,000 places.

“What I announced the other night was a fair dinkum process to actually get the actual level right,” Morrison told 2GB Radio this morning.

“I do my homework before I make decisions.

“This year’s migration program is already set and we’ll have to make a decision in next year’s budget.”

Australia’s annual immigration cap stands at 190,000 but only about 162,000 permanent visas were approved last year.

The Government is reportedly in line for a similar figure this year.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said the idea to cut migrant numbers made “absolute sense” to prevent more overcrowding in Sydney and Melbourne.

But Coleman said any changes proposed by the government would take into account the need for skilled migrants and the economic benefit they brought.

“At the end of the day, immigration is a recruitment exercise for the country,” he told Sky News.

He appeared to flag cuts to the temporary migration program, but not the student intake which formed the biggest part of that scheme.

Labor’s immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann has called the government’s idea a “cheap trick” designed to get a headline.

“(Morrison) locked in Australia’s annual permanent migration intake at 190,000 during his time as immigration minister and then as treasurer,” Neumann said.

“If he was wrong about that, he should explain why he was wrong.”

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia criticised the government’s idea as “divisive”.

“It is not good enough for the nation’s prime minister to abandon long-term vision for our future and opt for short-term populist politics,” chairwoman Mary Patetsos said.

In SA, the Marshall Government has signalled a desire for higher targeted migration, with Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister David Ridgway telling InDaily yesterday: “South Australia is committed to addressing our low rate of population growth and migration is crucial to that.”

“Our challenges as a State are very different to those of the east coast capitals, and we are making that case to the Federal Government,” he said.

-AAP

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