Former prime minister Tony Abbott has savaged a Turnbull Government cabinet minister for dissing his call to slash immigration.
Treasurer Scott Morrison on Wednesday hit back at Mr Abbott’s proposal to cut Australia’s net annual pace from 190,000 to 100,000, arguing it would wipe $5 billion off the budget.
However the treasurer’s former boss accused him of being controlled by his own bureaucrats.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has savaged a Turnbull Government cabinet minister for dissing his call to slash immigration
‘Scott’s problem is that he’s been captured by his department,’ Mr Abbott told Sydney radio 2GB presenter Ben Fordham.
‘Treasury is always in favour of more migration.
‘We cannot let the Treasury’s accounting rules make determine what is in our long-term and medium-term best national interest.
‘We can’t let the tail wag the dog, so to speak.’
Mr Abbott told the conservative Sydney Institute think tank on Tuesday night a large cutback in Australia’s annual permanent immigration intake would take the pressure off high house prices and faltering transport infrastructure, and boost stagnant wages.
Mr Abbott accused Treasurer Scott Morrison of being ‘captured by his department’ over immigration policy
Mr Abbott said Treasury bureaucrats shouldn’t be allowed to dictate Australia’s immigration intake
The former prime minister had an ally in Australian Population Research Institute boss Bob Birrell, who said high immigration was a major factor driving up house prices in Sydney and Melbourne.
‘It’s a major factor in demand for housing in those two cities and a major contributor to price rises as a consequence,’ Mr Birrell told News Corp Australia.
‘If there’s going to be any solution to metropolitan problems the immigration program has to be cut drastically.’
Mr Abbott proposal for a 110,000 net annual immigration intake is still significantly higher than the 20th century average pace of 70,000, which was official policy until the late 1990s.
Australia’s high immigration intake has been linked to high house prices in Sydney (Circular Quay pictured)
The former PM, who was overthrown by Malcolm Turnbull in a September 2015 leadership coup, said cutting immigration could help the Coalition recover from a prolonged opinion poll slump and win the next election.
‘If we expect to win the next election, if we want to have a fighting chance, some things have got to change,’ Mr Abbott told 2GB.
‘This is something which we could well change which I think would be principled, pragmatic and maybe even popular.’
Mr Abbott proposal for a 110,000 net annual immigration intake is still significantly higher than the 20th century average pace of 70,000, which was official policy until the late 1990s