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‘Misleading’: Clash over migrants, housing crisis

Written by on May 21, 2024

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth has accused the Coalition of “misleading” the public over record migration as leaders leap to point the blame over who is responsible for housing shortages.

Queensland Labor Premier Steven Miles has supported Peter Dutton’s proposal to slash Australia’s permanent migration intake down to 160,000 to free up housing supply.

Mr Dutton announced the plan in his budget reply last week, pledging to “restore the Australian dream” of home ownership.

While community and social service groups have raised fears that migrants have been unfairly blamed for the housing crisis, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said the Albanese government was to blame for 1.67 million “new arrivals” in the country.

“The fact of the matter is that Labor’s aggressive pursuit of bringing in migrants, 1.67 million new arrivals, means that our congested cities, pressure for infrastructure, deteriorating roads, and critical pressure on housing are driving up the price of purchasing your own home,” Senator McKenzie told the Today Show.

“And so Labor’s policies have seen not only that increase in migrants put that pressure on, but also made sure interest rates have stayed higher for longer than they need to be because they haven’t got inflation under control.”

After a record net overseas migration intake of 528,000 in 2022-23, the Treasury forecasts that figure will decline to 395,000 in 2023-24, before tapering off even further to 260,000 in the coming financial year.

Mr Dutton has promised that if elected in 2025, a Coalition government would reduce the permanent migration program by 25 per cent and impose a two-year ban on foreigners buying existing homes.

In a televised debate on Tuesday, Ms Rishworth said Senator McKenzie was “misleading” people over claims record migration has been a result of Labor’s policy decisions.

“These migration settings were the migration settings under your government,” Ms Rishworth said.

“In the last five months, we’ve seen a 35 per cent decrease in international students. We have been fixing the mess that you left and indeed we have a plan, though that is the difference between us and you.

“You can’t argue with the facts, Bridget. You can’t just have rhetoric and not actually back it up with a plan or facts.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government was addressing high migration and housing supply shortages in a “considered, orderly” way telling reporters he wanted to avoid a non-divisive debate on the issue.

“That is something that has characterised my government … that responsible policy stands in stark contrast to the waste and mismanagement and denial and delay of the former government over 10 years,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Tuesday.

“Including Peter Dutton, who presided over a migration number that was higher than what we are projecting going forward when he was the minister with responsibility.