Australia's conservatives pledge immigration cut
Jul 25, 2010, 4:16 GMT
Sydney - Australia's conservatives Sunday challenged the ruling Labor Party to match its pledge to reduce immigration in campaigning for the August 21 parliamentary election.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has described the population growth rate as 'irresponsible' but has refused to set a target for immigration, which is currently running at 300,000 a year.
Opposition Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott promised to slash the intake to 170,000 a year if his conservative coalition wins at the polls.
The cuts would mostly affect foreign students who arrive hoping to qualify for permanent residency and the family reunion programme rather than those arriving as skilled migrants.
Abbott said there would be no change to a programme that sees around 12,000 refugees taken in each year.
'The coalition parties are pro-immigrant parties but it's very important that our immigration program has the support of our people and that is what this policy is designed to do,' Abbott said.