Treasurer Warns of Billion-Dollar Loss from Migration Cut Proposal

Treasurer Warns of Billion-Dollar Loss from Migration Cut Proposal

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says a Coalition government would cut Australia’s permanent migration intake of 185,000 by 25 per cent. Picture: Martin Ollman/NCA NewsWire.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has cautioned that the Australian economy could suffer a significant blow if Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s plan to reduce migration by 25% is implemented.

During his budget reply speech on Thursday, Dutton proposed a migration crackdown and a limit on foreign property investment as a solution to the housing supply crisis. The Coalition’s plan would decrease the number of permanent visas issued annually from 185,000 to 140,000, with a specific focus on lowering international student numbers.

Chalmers stated that this measure would “devastate” the economy and worsen the existing skill shortages in the construction and healthcare sectors. He told the ABC on Sunday, “It will cost the economy billions of dollars, but even the kinds of estimates that you will see are conservative because it’s not possible to fully capture the damage that Peter Dutton would do to the skills base of this country, to our hospital, on our building sites.”

Chalmers estimated a $40bn hole in Dutton’s budget and highlighted the potential economic loss. He also criticized the Coalition’s plans to ban foreign home buyers from purchasing existing properties for two years, stating that recent data contradicts Dutton’s claims of immediate housing relief.

David Littleproud, the leader of the Nationals, suggested that regional universities with high numbers of overseas students could have a reduced cap on foreign students under the opposition’s migration plan. He said that if re-elected, the Coalition would introduce a dedicated visa for agriculture to redirect more skilled migrants from metropolitan cities to rural towns.

When asked about the feasibility of increasing migrant numbers in the regions under a significantly reduced migration target, Littleproud said it would require “tough” decisions in other areas of the economy. He told Sky News, “It is about making the tough decisions that prioritise where the economy needs the support to continue to grow, and particularly in the regions that where we want to be very clear, that we don’t want to see the regions suffer because of exacerbated problems in capital cities.”

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