The Prime Minister asked for it. And Scott Morrison is going to get it from Labor premiers on Wednesday, who are lining up to take pot shots at the PM over his call to debate a cut to immigration.
The Council of Australian Governments meeting, Mr Morrison’s first as PM, is set to debate his claim that Australia should consider a cut to immigration in some big cities.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is leading the charge, insisting her state’s population growth is occurring the old-fashioned way, involving Queenslanders having babies.
“Queensland is not a one-city state. We like that,” she told The New Daily.
“The biggest source of Queensland’s population growth is expanding families.
“We’re also the most popular destination for interstate migration.
“We don’t want to stop either.”
Declaring “the roads are clogged” in Sydney and schools and public transport are full, Mr Morrison announced last month that he wanted a population plan from the states.
“They are saying enough, enough, enough,” Mr Morrison said.
Australia currently has an immigration cap of 190,000 but migration levels are already almost 30,000 people a year below that.
Former prime minister John Howard backed the call.
“We’re a fast-growing country. Some parts of the country are suffering from congestion,” Mr Howard said.
However, the Queensland Premier urged Mr Morrison to stay out of the state’s migration debate.
“People who don’t live in our state keep telling us what’s best for our state,” she said.
“And we find that hard to take.
“Growth is good when it’s properly managed.”
The Prime Minister has called for a more collaborative process to set migration levels, but the Labor states plan to drag the debate back to adequate resources for roads, schools and hospitals.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews agrees and will tell Mr Morrison so when he flies into Adelaide on Wednesday.
Victorian Labor sources claimed that Mr Morrison appeared to dream up the migration cut plan to “help his mate, opposition leader Matthew Guy”, who ran a campaign heavy on immigration and crime.
“Well, he lost. And he lost very badly,” a Labor source said.
However, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is strongly backing Mr Morrison’s call to cut migration.
The daughter of Armenian immigrants, the Liberal leader has called for NSW’s immigration intake to be slashed by half.
That could prove expensive because the state’s drivers include international students and tourists who pump millions of dollars into the economy.
State premiers are also set to debate schools funding with the Prime Minister amid threats to withhold funding to private schools if Victoria refuses to sign up.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has written to the Victorian Premier promising to backdate any school funding withheld if Labor wins next year’s election.
The deadline to reach an agreement passed last Friday, with Victoria and Queensland declining to sign up unless the Morrison government lifts funding for public schools.