Opposition won't change refugee intake, says Scott Morrison
July 19, 2010 5:33PM
OPPOSITION immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says there is a link between the asylum seeker issue and concerns about the impact of immigration on Australia's population growth, but admitted the Coalition wouldn't reduce the refugee intake.
Both sides of politics have been arguing against a big Australia with Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying population growth must be sustainable. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wants the Productivity Commission to provide annual advice on the infrastructure needs for sustainable population growth.
But Mr Abbott has also been criticised for linking the asylum seeker issue with fears in the community about immigration levels and population growth.
“We feel that people are in a sense taking advantage of us, that the people smugglers … are in charge of the immigration program,” Mr Abbott said on Sunday.
Today Mr Morrison defended the Opposition Leader, saying the link was about whether Australians had confidence in the Government to run an orderly immigration program.
“The link relates to a country and particularly a Government's capacity to generate confidence in the Australian people that their immigration program is being well run,” he told Sky News.
“A community has to feel confident about our level of intake.”
However, Mr Morrison conceded the number of asylum seekers coming to Australia did not affect population growth.
“The number of asylum seekers, refugees, humanitarian entrants we take is 13,750. That hasn't changed,” he said.
“That hasn't contributed to population increase and neither the Coalition or the Government are looking to change that figure.”
Mr Morrison said the asylum seeker debate was also about how people came to Australia, the fairness of the process and the safety of the process.
“Because under Labor's policies 7000 people, 147 boats; and we believe around 170 people have drowned at sea over the last few years, we got 561 children who are being detained and virtually all of them came by boat.”
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