Politics

Scott Morrison Is Preparing To Cut Immigration, Saying It’s About Traffic Jams, Not Racism

"Australians are frustrated about traffic jams and population pressures encroaching on their quality of life."

Scott Morrison

Well, Scott Morrison seems to think this week is still the right time to start gearing up for a cut to immigration. Despite the Christchurch terror attack sparking a tense national conversation about the role Australian government policies have played in encouraging racism and Islamophobia, the PM insists that this particular immigration policy is just about traffic jams.

“Just because Australians are frustrated about traffic jams and population pressures encroaching on their quality of life, especially in this city, does not mean they are anti-migrant or racist,” Morrison said during a speech in Melbourne yesterday, warning that the all-important congestion debate should not be “hijacked” by the conversation about racism.

He also clarified that he sees that “hijacking” of the debate coming from multiple sides, slamming both “the despicable appropriation of concerns about immigration as justification for a terrorist atrocity” and “the imputation that the motivation for supporting moderated immigration levels is racial hatred”.

The government didn’t just come up with the idea to cut immigration this week — it’s been planning for a while now to announce cuts to immigration as part of the upcoming federal budget. The Australian reports that the plan is to cut Australia’s annual intake of permanent migrants at 160,000, a drop of 30,000 from the current targets.

In a week like this, though, Scott Morrison maybe needs to learn to read the room. Just a few days ago, Fraser Anning stood up and blamed Muslim immigration for the Christchurch terror attack, despite the fact that Muslims were the victims. Just last night, a government MP appeared to link refugees to terrorism on Q&A. And now here’s ScoMo, essentially telling us to totally set aside all of these issues and have a good, clean chat about congestion.

As former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane tweeted this morning, “there was an opening this week to reset on racism and white supremacy. There could have been funding for a national anti-racism campaign, strengthening of hate speech laws, a concerted No to race politics. Instead: a pivot to an immigration cut.”