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Aus oppn vows to cut immigrants number to 1.7 lakh from 3 lakh

world Updated: Jul 25, 2010 15:42 IST

PTI
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Ahead of next month's polls, Australia's main opposition party on sunday vowed to massively cut the annual migrants intake from 300,000 to 170,000, targeting even the foreign students' category which is popular among Indians, in a bid to contain a population explosion in future.

"What we are planning to do is to get our immigration levels to those which we believe are economically, environmentally sustainable," Liberal party leader Tony Abbott, 53, was quoted by the local media as saying.

"We need an immigration programme which can be supported for the long-term," he said as his party campaigned hard for the August 21 polls in which it will take on the ruling Labour.

On whether that meant cutting the nation's international student intake, he said "I am all in favour of Australia selling education. But what I don't want us to be doing is selling immigration outcomes in the guise of selling education."

Nearly one lakh Indian students are currently pursuing education in Australia and the move to cut the immigrants' number, even in the international students' category, is expected to have an impact on the youths from the country aspiring to come in Melbourne.

"A 'fair dinkum' debate about population can't avoid immigration because that's what's driving the increase," Abbott was quoted as saying by 'Herald Sun'.

"Three hundred thousand is just not sustainable," he said, adding the plan to slash the number was separate from the asylum-seeker issue.

However, Abbott said skilled migration programmes would continue.

"We will maintain, though, various employer-nominated categories because it's important that business has the skills as a people that it needs," he said.