Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton proposed cutting the annual immigration intake by 20,000 to cabinet colleagues last year but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison knocked the idea on the head.
The Australian newspaper reports the plan was to reduce the ceiling on annual permanent migration from 190,000 to 170,000. Mr Dutton’s argument was based on public concern at the rate of immigration, and he was backed at the time by then Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Minister Dutton’s proposed cut of less than ten per cent was well short of the 50 per cent reduction in immigration numbers called for by Australian Conservatives’ leader Cory Bernardi in February last year.
Senior ministers yesterday rallied behind Mr Turnbull in the wake of the Coalition losing its 30th consecutive Newspoll — a measure used by the Prime Minister to oust Tony Abbott in 2015.
But Mr Joyce broke ranks last night to deliver a warning over the leadership, saying that if Mr Turnbull was behind in the polls by Christmas, he should do the “honourable thing” and resign.
Revelations of Mr Dutton’s failed attempt to cut the immigration level come as the government struggles to generate political momentum amid continuing public concern around the pace of growth and development in major cities.
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