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Peter Dutton delivers his opposition Budget reply speech yesterday (ABC News/Matt Roberts)

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has used his Budget reply speech to advocate a reduction to migration numbers. Source: ABC News.

If elected, he said the Coalition would cut the number of permanent visas granted each year to 140,000.

That figure, sometimes called the permanent migration cap, is set by the government ahead of each financial year.

Its level for the coming financial year is 185,000, down from 190,000 the year before.

The permanent program includes family visas (about 50,000 a year), humanitarian visas (20,000 a year) and permanent skilled visas (the remainder).

Mr Dutton said he would impose a cap of 140,000 for two years, then 150,000 in year three and 160,000 in year four.

He said he would cut the humanitarian visa numbers from 20,000 to 13,750, but did not specify whether the rest of the cut would come from the family program or the skills program.

Mr Dutton also called for a reduction in international student numbers.

A post-pandemic surge of international students and temporary skilled workers, another uncapped program, led to an unusually high number of arrivals in 2022-23.

Mr Dutton has long sought to connect these recent arrivals with cost-of-living pressures, and in particular housing affordability.

In his Thursday evening speech, he suggested limiting migration would “free up almost 40,000 additional homes in the first year and well over 100,000 homes in the next five years”.

Mr Dutton also blamed government spending for rising inflation and suggested that if the Coalition was returned to power he would cut the number of public servants and reduce spending.

“You’ve got a government at the moment that is prioritising public servants in Canberra above our Defence Force, above support for pensioners, above people who are living homelessly, above people who can’t get into see a GP.

“I want to listen to and act on the advice of the Australian people, that’s what I’ve detailed tonight.”


Dutton calls to slash permanent migration program and international student numbers (ABC News)


Dutton pledges to slash permanent migration to 140,000 a year (Sydney Morning Herald)

Budget reply: Peter Dutton reveals Coalition policies on migration, housing, cost-of-living (The Australian)