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.


Father of boy saved by Paris ‘Spiderman’ convicted for negligence

Updated 1 min 33 sec ago
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Father of boy saved by Paris ‘Spiderman’ convicted for negligence

PARIS: The father of the little boy who was rescued dangling from a fourth-story Paris balcony by a Malian migrant dubbed Spiderman received a three-month suspended jail sentence Tuesday for leaving the child home alone.
Mamoudou Gassama was propelled to global stardom in May after footage of him scaling the facade of the apartment building with his bare hands to save the child went viral.
Gassama, who was living illegally in France at the time, was rewarded with French citizenship and a job in the fire service.
But the 37-year-old father found himself in hot water for leaving the child unattended in their sixth-floor apartment while he went shopping — the boy was just four at the time.
Apart from the suspended sentence he was also ordered to take a parenting course.
The public prosecutor had asked for the father to be given a six-month suspended sentence, noting that had Gassama not sprung into action the child “might now be dead.”
The father told the court that after spending the day at the Disneyland theme park near Paris with his son on May 26, he decided to pop out for some provisions, leaving his son in front of the TV at his insistence.
Expressing remorse he said he had not realized that by leaving the sliding door to the balcony open the child was in grave danger.
He also admitted to being gone longer than he thought — around an hour — because he was playing the popular Pokemon Go game on his phone.
The child told the police he thought his father had gone back to Disneyland without him and decided to follow him.
Finding the apartment door locked he climbed over the balcony and then appears to have fallen, before miraculously managing to grab the rail of a balcony on the fourth floor.
Footage of the incident, filmed by a bystander, shows him dangling in mid-air with a neighbor on the adjoining balcony desperately trying to hold onto him.
Gassama, 22, then scales the building Spiderman-style and pulls him to safety.
Under France’s penal code parental negligence carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of up to 30,000 euros ($35,300).
The boy’s mother was on a visit to her native Reunion island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean, at the time.
Both parents were said at the time to be extremely shaken by the incident but hugely grateful to Gassama.