PM to face WA Libs’ push for migration cut

Malcolm Turnbull will face calls to halve the nation’s migration intake when he visits Perth next week, with the WA Liberals to step up warnings about Australia’s booming population growth.

The WA Liberals are likely to back a policy push at the party’s State conference for the Government to make big cuts to the immigration rate, reducing the current cap of 190,000 permanent migrants a year to half that figure.

The Prime Minister will be in Perth on August 10 and 11 to attend the annual meeting. The push for the cut is understood to have broad support from party members.

WA Liberal senator Dean Smith ignited the debate on population last month when he told The West Australian he was concerned about the lack of planning to deal with Australia’s rapidly growing population.

Australia is set to hit a population of 25 million next week, much earlier than the Government had predicted.

One forecast in 2002 said Australia would not reach the 25 million mark until 2042.

Although the cap on permanent immigration has stood at 190,000 for some time, most years Australia has fallen slightly short of that intake.

This figure excludes long-term migrants such as university students and those on business visas, many of whom later leave Australia.

VideoAs tensions continue to simmer over immigration plans, Malcolm Turnbull is set to consider a plan for migrants to live in regional Australia.

Mr Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have talked down suggestions Australia needs to tighten immigration numbers, arguing immigration has played a major role in the economic growth of the country and would continue to do so.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton have backed calls for a migration cut.

But while Mr Abbott has argued there are votes to be won in talking about migration, senior business figures have urged the Government to maintain immigration numbers to support investment and jobs.

This week, Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott said migration was was a key factor in Australia’s high level of economic growth over the past 27 years.

Senator Smith says he does not want to see Perth go the way of cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, where infrastructure had not kept up with big jumps in population.

He says the Government needs to look at ways to encourage migrants to move to regional areas rather than the major cities.

VideoThe federal minister for citizenship and multiculturalism believes migrants should face an Australian values test.