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Australian PM flags immigration curbs

world Updated: Jun 28, 2010 00:56 IST

AP
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New Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday signaled Australia's immigration intake will slow under her leadership as concerns grow about the nation's rapid population growth.

Gillard said she disagreed with her predecessor Kevin Rudd, who was ousted by the ruling Labor Party last week, on the "issue" of population policy.

Rudd recently gave a speech endorsing a "big Australia," citing government statistics that on present immigration trends, Australia's population would grow from 22 million today to 35 million by 2050.

"I don't believe in a big Australia," Gillard told Nine Network television. "I don't believe in simply hurtling down a track to a 36 million or 40 million population."

Gillard, who immigrated as a child from Wales in 1966 when Australia's population was 11.5 million, said the key factor to determine future immigration rates should be governments' capacity to provide the roads and services needed to sustain a larger population.

She said she planned to appoint a new Minister for Sustainable Population to examine growth capacity when she announces her new Cabinet, probably this week.