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Plans To Cut Australia’s Permanent Migration Intake: PM, Scott Morrison

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison is calling on State Premiers to prepare individual population policies for their state with an aim to reduce Australia’s permanent migration intake of 190,000 migrants per year.

Written by Sheila Woods of Interstaff 3 December, 2018


Australia’s permanent migration intake is historically reviewed by the Department of Home Affairs as a national figure, however as mentioned in our previous article, the Government may move to a region by region approach to acknowledge the different population pressures experienced by each State and Territory and plan for migration levels accordingly.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been particularly vocal about wanting to halve the state’s migration intake after this year’s Department statistics showed over 90% of permanent migrants settle in Sydney and Melbourne. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.


Mr Morrison said, “The old model of a single, national number determined by Canberra is no longer fit for purpose.”

“My approach will be to move away from top-down discussions about population to set our migration intake caps. I anticipate that this will lead to a reduction in our current migration settings.”

“It is the States who build hospitals, approve housing developments, plan roads and know how many kids will be going into their schools in the future,” Mr Morrison told the annual Bradfield Lecture.

“The States and Territories know better than any what the population carrying capacity is for their existing and planned infrastructure and services. So I plan to ask them, before we set our annual caps.”


It is unclear whether the Government will consider temporary visa holders, such as students, in its discussions with the states and territories. While the total number of approvals for permanent migrants was reduced in the 2018 program year, the number of international students in Australia has grown in the past three years with many choosing to live and study in Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia’s annual permanent migration intake had been set at 190,000 migrants, however only 162,000 permanent visas were granted in the year up to June 30 2018. Read our insights on the factors contributing to the reduction in the number of permanent visas granted. Although the focus appears to be on reducing Australia’s permanent migration intake, statistics have shown population pressures in Australia’s major cities may largely be due to an increase in temporary migration. Since 2005, Australia’s net overseas migration, which includes temporary migration, has averaged 200,000 people per year, which is an increase of 100,000 in the previous decade.

While we can expect a reduction to Australia’s permanent migration intake, previous announcements by Immigration Minister David Coleman have indicated there will be an increase in the proportion of skilled migrants – particularly employer sponsored applicants as the Government focuses on emphasising components of the migration program that deliver the highest economic benefits to Australia.

Mr Morrison plans to review the population policies set by each State Premier at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting on 12 December 2018.


Interstaff assist people all over the world with the legal and professional process to travel or migrate to Australia for temporary work or permanent residence. Established in 1988, Interstaff has been trusted by migrating individuals and businesses for over 30 years and are the strongest group of experts for visa work in Australia. MARN: 0533879.