Immigration

Senate rejects Hanson's push for national vote on immigration

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One Nation leader Pauline Hanson moved a private members Bill to hold a plebiscite on Australia's immigration levels.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's bid to hold a national vote on Australia's immigration levels has been roundly rejected by the Senate. 

The Queensland Senator's private members Bill to hold a plebiscite to gauge the public's views on the number of migrants allowed to live and work in Australia was defeated 54-2. 

Senator Malcolm Roberts and Senator Pauline Hanson during proceedings to mark the start of the 46th Parliament at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, 2 July 2019. (AAP Image/Sam Mooy) NO ARCHIVING
One Nation senators Malcolm Roberts and Pauline Hanson were the only two to vote in favour of the plebiscite.
AAP

Only Senator Hanson and her One Nation colleague Malcolm Roberts voted in favour of the Bill. 

The controversial Queensland senator blamed congestion and wages stagnation on immigration-fuelled population growth, arguing that people battling clogged roads and rising house prices deserved a say on the rate of migration. 

"It just makes commonsense to understand that more people means more demand for services. If those services are not established at a pace that keeps up with the growth then lifestyles will go backwards."

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson holds a doorstop following the opening of the 57th Parliament at NSW Parliament in Sydney, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson says Australians should get a say on the number of migrants coming to the country.
AAP

But she argued the Bill was not inherently racist, accusing her opponents of putting the issue in the "too hard basket". 

"This Bill is not about where people originate when they come to live in our great nation or why," she told the Senate.

"It is strictly about the numbers and the impact those numbers - significant numbers on a global scale mind you - are having on our lives here."

Before the election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the cap on Australia's permanent migration intake would be cut from 190,000 to 160,000 as part of the government's "congestion-busting" approach. 

While it's a reduction in the maximum number allowed, the new limit reflects the actual number of migrants that were granted permanent visas last financial year. 

Demographers and planning experts say migrants are not to blame for congestion in cities, but inadequate government investment in infrastructure. 

Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker speaks during debate in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, August 20, 2018.  (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker said cutting migration further would have "catastrophic" consequences for the economy.
AAP

Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker said the One Nation proposal would have "catastrophic" consequences for the economy.

"If the current rate of migration is not maintained, we risk significantly lower economic growth and a substantial drop in Australians living standards." 

Labor Senator Raff Ciccone also spoke against the bill.   

"Migrants have helped to drive our economy." 

After the vote, Senator Hanson said she was disappointed with the result. 

"It's not for me, it's for the Australian people. They have never had a say on the number of migrants coming into the country, they have to suffer the consequences." 

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