The New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is calling for a return to lower immigration levels to New South Wales as seen under former Prime Minister John Howard.
- Ms Berejiklian says NSW needs an immigration “breather”
- She claimed the number of people arriving in the state had doubled in 10 years
- In February, Labor leader Luke Foley lamented “white flight” from some western Sydney suburbs
Ms Berejiklian — the daughter of Armenian immigrants — said while NSW would always will be open to new immigrants, successive Federal Governments had lost control.
“I’m saying take a breather because the rates have gone through the roof,” she said.
“Just under 10 years ago we were welcoming about 45,000 people.
“Two years ago we were welcoming 75,000 people. It’s now 100,000 every single year.”
Ms Berejiklian said NSW had “fantastic multiculturalism”.
“I’m proud of it, I’m a product of it, I want it to continue,” she said.
“But in terms of the numbers themselves, we do need to take a breather.
“We need to make sure we have a solid population policy in place which looks at where the population is growing and also looks at our capacity.”
Population increase affecting infrastructure
The Premier said her Government had been struggling to build the infrastructure to support the population increase, like schools and hospitals.
“I’m the Premier of the largest state in Australia and until this point, haven’t had a say in population,” she said.
Labor leader Luke Foley said Ms Berejilian’s comments were a “thought-bubble from the Premier that you can’t take seriously”.
“Only a few months ago, the Premier said the current rate of immigration was about right,” he said.
“The population of Sydney soared from 4 to 5 million during the life of this Government. They’ve been happy with that.
“This is a belated conversion from the Premier I think it says more about the political difficulties she’s in after the last few weeks.”
In February, Mr Foley said a reduction in the migrant intake number would give Sydney a chance to catch up on infrastructure, but he came under fire for comments he made about a “white flight” from some of Sydney’s western suburbs.
“You have to say Australia’s largest city Sydney is groaning under the weight of congestion,” he said.