Peter Dutton calls for migration cut: ‘We have to reduce the numbers’

Home affairs minister says some Australia cities ‘overcrowded’ and migrants who are ‘going to be a burden’ should be rejected

Peter Dutton has said Australia must reduce its intake of migrants “where we believe it’s in our national interest”.

The home affairs minister told 2GB Radio on Thursday the Coalition had already “considerably” reduced the number of people entering Australia – by 100,000 on the levels when Labor was in government – and was not tied to the current level of migration.

Dutton said it was a “perfectly legitimate argument” that Australia’s cities were “overcrowded” including “gridlocked traffic in the mornings” and use of services like hospitals.

“We have to try and encourage people out into regions, we have to reduce the numbers where we believe it’s in our national interest,” he said. “It’s come back considerably and if we have to bring it back further, if that’s what required and that’s what’s in our country’s best interests … that is what we will do.”

Dutton said some state governments had handled capital city infrastructure better than others so levels of overcrowding were “a different story as you go around the country”.

The home affairs minister said the migration program should always “be operated in a way that it acts in our best interests” such as refusing to allow migrants who were “going to be a burden” in favour of people who “make a good contribution”.

“But we do have problems where people are concentrating in and around Sydney, in and around other capital cities, including Melbourne. We need to try and disperse people out.”

Dutton said some regions and sectors like abattoirs in regional areas needed a foreign or temporary workforce because “the local kids won’t do the work”.

On Thursday, Molan, a former general and one of the architects of the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy, said control of the borders and immigration “are important to me as they are to most Australians”.

“We now effectively control our borders in a way that few now trust the opposition to do,” he said. “However, I am concerned that the level of legal migration … is in excess of the capacities of our cities to absorb, both culturally or in terms of infrastructure.

“We are approaching limits on this, if indeed we have already exceeded them. I don’t have the answers, but I certainly have the concerns.”