Foreign visitors currently need special permission to enter Australia
AFP / David GRAY

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton's proposal to significantly reduce immigration levels has been criticized by Treasurer Jim Chalmers as an "unhinged and risky rant."

Dutton announced proposals to significantly lower permanent visas from the existing quota of 185,000 to 140,000 for the next two years in his budget reply address.

Dutton maintains that this measure is intended to combat inflation and the housing crisis, but the government has sharply criticized it, claiming it may jeopardize Australia's humanitarian responsibilities and economic stability, reported.

In response to questions regarding the elimination of family and skilled visa positions, Dutton stressed that a desired ratio of two-thirds skilled and one-third family visas could be adjusted at different times, saying that it would depend on the skills, demand, and shortage in the economy.

"You can increase the number of intake through the partner visa program or family, their judgments to make at the time as to what is required for the economy," he said.

The Coalition is set to tie house ownership to net migrant intake and housing building, as revealed by The Guardian Australia in April, and turn it into a major campaign issue. It is expected that the opposition leader's budget reply on Thursday will make significant reference to this policy change.

The Albanese administration has responded by putting out a challenge to Dutton to clarify several Coalition policy points, including the finer points of constructing nuclear power facilities and pinpointing cost-saving measures. Meanwhile, Dutton has criticized Labor's approach to migration, pointing to a discrepancy between the over 1 million new arrivals over the last two years and the only 265,000 new dwellings being built during an 11-year low in building activity.

In addressing housing and infrastructure issues, Chalmers emphasized the need for cautious migration management during a National Press Club post-budget lunch. He also emphasized the need for stability in the face of a post-COVID boom driven primarily by students and long-term visitors.

With a $32 billion budget for housing over ten years, Chalmers underlined the necessity for cautious management of migration to solve housing and infrastructure concerns. Parliament will adjourn without addressing Labor's divisive deportation measure while the government takes its time responding to changes that have been made.