Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a cut to immigration, declaring Sydney and Melbourne at capacity and he is ready to agree to state calls for curbs to new Australians.
But Mr Morrison predicted regional centres, including Rockhampton in Queensland, Tasmania and Adelaide, want more migrants and have the capacity to accept more new arrivals.
The Prime Minister’s confirmation he wants to slash immigration to Australia’s largest capital cities follows NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s call to halve the migration intake on the grounds that “rates have gone through the roof”.
Broadcaster Alan Jones pressed the Mr Morrison on immigration levels during his Radio 2GB program Wednesday, warning that it was a “big issue” for voters.
Mr Jones asserted that Australia had the highest per capita immigration intake in the world.
“What our immigration policy should be is the sum of the number that our infrastructure can support,” Mr Morrison replied.
“Instead of doing a top down approach, what I am doing with the states and territories now is saying, ‘you tell me. You tell me how many people you can accommodate … around your state’.” he said.
“Our immigration numbers will be based on how many people those states can support.”
Mr Jones interjected that people will say that means an immigration cut.
“Well, we will do the sums and in Sydney and Melbourne I think that’s true,” Mr Morrison said.
“But they say they can take an extra 10,000 people here in Rockhampton. In Adelaide they want more people and more jobs. In Tasmania they are increasing their population and they want more,” he said.
Earlier this year Ms Berejiklian established an expert panel to build the case for a lower immigration policy to take to the Federal Government next year.
The Prime Minister and Mr Jones also clashed over climate change policy and the Paris agreement during the interview.
“You don’t need Paris. Rip it up!”,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Morrison replied that Pairs was “important to our Pacific neighbours”.
“Why? Because global warming is going to wash away islands in the Pacific? That’s crap,” Mr Jones answered.
Mr Morrison said Mr Jones was “entitled to that view” and the region was also entitled to its view.
“Do you think that Bondi Beach is going to end up in Bathurst?,” Mr Jones asked, in reference to warning of rising sea levels.
“No, I don’t think that at all,” Mr Morrison said.