SYDNEY – Australia’s treasurer Scott Morrison defended on Wednesday the annual permanent immigration intake in the country following a proposal by ex-prime minister Tony Abbott to cut it down by more than a third.
Abbott had proposed on Tuesday to cut the annual intake of immigrants from the current 190,000 to 110,000.
“People who come as skilled migrants pay taxes, they make a net contribution to the economy,” Morrison said, adding that a reduction would “cut off your nose to spite your face.”
According to the treasurer, the suggested cut would affect the budget by a deficit of AU$4 billion-AU$5 billion ($3.14 billion-$39.3 billion) over the next four years.
Abbott had advocated cutting the intake until the problems of infrastructure employment, housing, violence and non-integration were addressed.
“I was the immigration minister for Tony Abbott and the permanent immigration intake that we have today was exactly the same that it was when he was prime minister (...) I don’t recall at any time there were any discussion that it should be lowered,” Morrison said.
He said that the intake has been stable since 2011 and a recent spike in population in the country was owing to temporary immigration by international students and backpackers with temporary work permits.