Aust migrant intake drops to 10-year low

Matt Coughlan
Peter Dutton says the government has restored the integrity of Australia's migration program

Australia's annual permanent migrant intake has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade after a federal government crackdown on dodgy claims.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the government had restored integrity to the migration program to make sure the "best possible" migrants were brought into the country through tougher vetting.

The 2017/18 intake has plummeted by more than 10 per cent to 162,417 due to the tighter migration rules.

There has been a 46 per cent increase in visa refusals, while skilled migrant numbers dropped by more than 12,000, and the family stream was cut by 15 per cent to 47,732.

Mr Dutton said people providing false documentation and overstating their qualifications were being rejected.

"I want to make sure that we scrutinise each application so that we're getting the best possible migrants - people who are going to work, not be on welfare, people who are going to integrate into our community," Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.

Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the government had toughened up a system it had been in charge of for five years.

"Of course it's a good result if there's more integrity in the system," Mr Albanese told Nine.

He said the figure represented 20,000 less migrants compared to last year.

Mr Dutton said the government had responded to community concerns about migration levels.

He accused former Labor governments of "ticking and flicking applications" in order to meet an annual target of 190,000.

"The prime minister and I have done a lot of thinking and lot of talking about how we can not only listen to those concerns, but act on them," the minister said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said 190,000 was the annual limit on migrants, which were subject to a range of criteria when assessed.

"It really depends on the quality of the applicants as to whether or not you can reach that cap," Senator Cormann told Sky News.

Mr Dutton says incentives are being provided for migrants to move to regional areas where there is a large demand for workers and less pressure on infrastructure than capital cities.