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Australia's immigration intake to remain at last year's level: PM Scott Morrison

Source: Supplied

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he expects Australia's permanent annual immigration intake to remain at year's level "just a little over 160,000" against the planning level of 190,000.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia’s annual immigration intake will continue to remain at last year’s level, which was nearly 28,000 less than the planning level of 190,000.

“Our current permanent immigration levels are running just a little over 160,000. That was the level of the permanent immigration that was running at the time of the conclusion of the Howard Government,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

“They used to be a bit higher than that in terms of what the permanent intake had been a few years ago and that has come down somewhat over the last year or so. And I expect it to remain at those levels,” he said responding to a question about NSW Premier Gladys Berejeklian's call to slash the state’s overseas migration intake to John Howard-era levels.

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Last year, Australia’s permanent immigration intake fell to below 163,000 – the lowest since 2007-08 under John Howard.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton who was responsible for the Immigration portfolio before Mr Morrison took the reins of the country from Malcolm Turnbull, attributed the decline in immigration to enhanced security checks.

Earlier this week, Immigration Minister, David Coleman indicated that his department would continue the approach adopted since last year.

“We did see last year, the impact the increased security process had,” Mr Coleman said in Melbourne.

“It is absolutely fundamental that we in no way absolutely compromise on security. We are not going to do that. We are going to be very careful.”

Australia’s annual immigration planning levels have been consistent at 190,000 since 2011. The actual intake has been consistent with the planning levels since then for most of the time until 2016-17 when the intake was just over 183,000.

Last year’s figures showed a decline of over 21,000 in the number permanent visas issued compared to the previous year, primarily driven by a cut in skilled and family stream visas.

In 2017-18, the skilled stream visas saw a cut of over 12,000 and family stream visas were also cut by 15 per cent.

The continuing visa squeeze reflects in the number of invites issued by the Immigration Department to visa aspirants who have submitted their expression of interest to apply for a permanent visa.

According to the department monthly figures, the invites issued to Skilled Independent visa applicants within the skilled stream, fell by 20 per cent in the first quarter of the current financial year compared to the last year.

Mr Coleman said those figures are incomplete at the moment and when the department releases the full figures for the September month, the should match last year’s level.  

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