Migration cut would have ‘negligible’ effect on housing

May 20, 2024 16:17 | News

A reduction in Australia’s migration intake will do little to solve the housing supply crisis, an expert says.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton wants Australia to reduce its permanent migration intake by 25 per cent if the coalition wins the next election, arguing the cut would improve housing affordability and supply in the market.

Under the plan, the migration intake would be lowered to about 140,000 in its first two years of government, before raising it to 150,000 and then 160,000 over the following two years.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton (file image)
Peter Dutton says he wants Australians to get priority on housing before migrants. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Dutton said a cutback for migration numbers was needed to ease pressure on the housing market.

“We can’t avoid a situation where you bring in a population bigger than Adelaide in a five-year period and not have homes for them,” he told reporters on Monday.

“We are a great country for migration, we have been … one of the greatest success stories in the world in terms of our migration programs, but it needs to be balanced and well-calibrated.”

Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute managing director Michael Fotheringham said migration cuts would have a negligible effect.

“The impact of that will be extremely marginal and hard to detect … I would not expect it to have a significant impact,” he told AAP.

“The housing market has 11 million properties, and whether you’ve got 160,000 or 460,000 migrants, many of whom live in other households and with people who are also migrants, it has a comparatively tiny effect.”

Mr Dutton also took aim at the number of international students, arguing it was exacerbating the housing situation.

“I don’t have any problem with international students, but I want homes in our country to be taken up first by Australian citizens and by Australian students and elderly Australians,” he said.

“I want to make sure that Australians can get into those homes.”

Dr Fotheringham said such sentiments of offering homes to Australian citizens before others was “fomenting fear”.

“It’s a populist motion that feeds into anxiety in the community and is not particularly well-evidenced or founded,” he said.

Students enter a university (file image)
The coalition says international student numbers also contribute to the housing problem. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rejected the coalition proposal, saying the opposition had not fully realised the consequences of such a move.

“When you look, the detail simply isn’t there, no costings, no understanding about impact on the economy,” he told ABC Radio.

“They’re a group that just appeal to their own base, say things that their own base wants to hear without putting forward clear, fully costed policies.”

Opposition housing spokesman Michael Sukkar said a new migration cap would take into account positions in in-demand industries.

“It will be dependent on the skills list at the time. It will be dependent on the skills you need at any particular time,” he told Sky News.

“Our view is that you need to reduce migration in order to take pressure off the housing market.”

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