Migration to Australia hits decade low, seen as boost for prime minister

The fall will benefit Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has seen right-wing lawmakers such as Pauline Hanson win favor with voters after linking rising immigration to record house prices, denting support for the government. (AAP via AP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Migration to Australia hits decade low, seen as boost for prime minister

SYDNEY: The number of permanent migrants to Australia has hit a 10-year low, thanks to tougher scrutiny of claims, home minister Peter Dutton said on Friday, as the government tries to soothe angry conservative voters who threaten its re-election prospects.
The fall will benefit Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has seen right-wing lawmakers such as Pauline Hanson win favor with voters after linking rising immigration to record house prices, denting support for the government.
The tougher oversight meant that just under 163,000 people were approved for migration between July 1 last year and June 30, said Dutton, the minister of home affairs, a fall of 10 percent from the previous 12 months, and the lowest in 10 years.
“We are looking more closely at the applications that are made, making sure that we’re bringing the best migrants possible into our country,” Dutton told Australia’s Channel 9.
The immigration scrutiny aims to ensure applicants have real education qualifications and legitimate ties with people approved for Australian residency, he added.
“There has been a widespread feeling that there has been too much migration, so this will help the government,” said Rod Tiffen, an expert in government and international relations at the University of Sydney.
The stricter oversight began last year when Australia scrapped a temporary work visa popular with foreigners, lengthened the wait for citizenship, added a new “Australian values” test and raised the standard of English language use.
With an election less than a year away, Turnbull continues to trail in the polls, though the Australian newspaper’s latest Newspoll pegged the government at its best support in two years.


Clashes mar start of Bangladesh election campaign

Updated 37 min 10 sec ago
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Clashes mar start of Bangladesh election campaign

  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday launched her bid to stay in office
  • The national election body wants a violence-free campaign and polling day

DHAKA: Two people have been killed in clashes as official election campaigning got underway in Bangladesh.

The country goes to the polls on Dec. 30, pitting the ruling Awami League against the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Violence left two party workers dead and injured dozens more, media reported, days into the campaign.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday launched her bid to stay in office, addressing a rally in Gopalganj district.

She told the crowd that people were not deprived if they voted for her party, they had a better life.

She said she wanted a prosperous country, free of hunger and poverty, and urged people to vote for the ruling party to maintain ongoing development projects.

Hasina is seeking a third consecutive term in office. Seeking to oust her from power is the BNP-led opposition alliance, called the Jatiya Oikya Front.

Dr. Kamal Hossain offered prayers at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal in the eastern city of Sylhet on Wednesday evening. Then he, along with other opposition leaders, headed toward Jaintapur district to address a mass rally.

The national election body wants a violence-free campaign and polling day, but the BNP says the playing field is not level.

The party contacted the chief election commissioner to say its leaders, supporters and activists were being harassed, attacked and arrested.

“We think the chief commissioner is helpless and embarrassed as he is unable to take any action against the crimes committed targeting BNP leaders and supporters,” the BNP’s Selima Rahman told reporters. “We hope that he (election commissioner)takes action — only then will the election be acceptable to all.”

The head of the election body, Nurul Huda, said: “The EC is deeply saddened and embarrassed for such undesired incidents… The worth of a person’s life is much greater than the entire election exercise.”

The Bangladesh Election Commission needs to play a more active role in curbing violence so that voters were not deterred, according to the body’s former chief Shakhawat Hossain.

“To keep a check on violence, the EC has clear guidelines in its code of conducts while the Representation of Public Order (RPO) has also clearly stated the duties during this period,” Hossain told Arab News.

“The EC has already formed 140 inquiry committees and deployed 250 executive magistrates to monitor the elections. In addition, it has its own officers and administrative heads ensuring smooth running of the election process,” he added.

Everything now depended on the EC, its deployment of resources and how it operated, he added.