Australian PM rejects calls to cut migration

15:51, March 25, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has rejected calls to cut overseas migration as new figures revealed Australia's population passed 22 million.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday released an update on the nation's population, which reached 22,066,000 last September.

This was an increase of 451,900 people during the year, keeping the growth rate high at 2.1 percent.

The majority of the growth, 66 percent, was due to overseas migration, with the remainder, 34 percent, due to natural increase.

Rudd is under increasing scrutiny to explain how the nation can sustain an expected 35.9 million people by 2050.

The Australian Conservation Foundation this week nominated population growth to be listed in federal environmental laws as a threat to biodiversity, a move that would push the government into developing a strategy.

Former New South Wales Labor premier Bob Carr on Wednesday called for Australia's immigration intake to be slashed by half, while Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who has Australia's fastest growing region in the state's south-east, urged a national approach.

However, Rudd said he saw the problem of population growth in terms of planning for future demand.

"The key challenge for us ... is how do we as a nation prepare for that in terms of infrastructure, in terms of planning for our cities, and all those other practical things which need to be done, " he told Fairfax Radio.

The intake of migrants had been scaled back as the economic crisis hit and would continue to be dictated by workforce needs, Rudd said.

Source:Xinhua
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