Australia’s annual intake of permanent migrants has fallen more than 10 percent to almost 163,000, marking the lowest level in more than a decade as the government takes measures to cut down on fraudulent claims and create tougher vetting procedures.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says that his government’s efforts to impose tougher vetting rules have cut 21,000 migrants from the annual intake, reimposing levels that haven’t been seen since 2007.
“We are looking more closely at the applications that are made, making sure that we’re bringing the best migrants possible into our country,” Dutton told Australia’s Channel 9.
The vetting seeks to ensure that migrants have sufficient education qualifications as well as substantial relationships with citizens in Australia, he added.
The emphasis on the integrity of applications has resulted in a 46 percent increase in visas being refused, and a 17 percent rise in applications being withdrawn, presumably due to greater scrutiny, The Australian reports.
The largest drop was in the family applications, mostly spousal visas, which was cut nearly 15 percent over the year.
The reduction in numbers is also a result of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s efforts to calm conservative voters who will have an effect on his re-election chances, and these outcomes will benefit Turnbull.
Turnbull and his Coalition party are also seeking to overturn the formerly in power Labor party’s intake quota of 190,000 migrants.
“The Coalition has restored our borders and reintroduced integrity into our migration program,” Dutton told The Australian. “We ended the chaos Labor created on our borders by stopping the boats and we abolished Labor’s discredited 457 visa program.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Australian Industry Group, a lobby group, joined forces in early 2018 to urge the government to keep the goal at 190,000, saying “it’s critically important to business confidence, to job creation, to growth.”
However, with an election less than a year away, Turnbull and his government are not backing down. (RELATED: Pressure Is Building On Democrats To Drive Off The Immigration Cliff)
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