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.


Thai boys rescued from cave mourn diver who died

Updated 41 min 34 sec ago
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Thai boys rescued from cave mourn diver who died

  • The health ministry said the overall condition for the players and coach was normal
  • Saman was widely hailed as a hero but the boys, aged 11 to 16, were only told about his death on Saturday

CHIANG RAI, Thailand: The 12 boys and their coach rescued from a Thai cave mourned the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who died while taking part in the mission, the health ministry said Sunday.
The “Wild Boars” football team are recovering in hospital following 18 days spent inside the Tham Luang cave after entering on June 23 and getting trapped by monsoon floodwaters.
Doctors say they are in good health following a successful three-day operation which ended July 10 when teams of Thai Navy SEALs and international cave diving experts hauled the last five members of the team to safety.
But the lead-up to the final phase of the mission was met with tragedy when volunteer and former Navy SEAL diver Saman Kunan died on July 6 while installing oxygen tanks along the twisting passageways of the cave.
Saman was widely hailed as a hero but the boys, aged 11 to 16, were only told about his death on Saturday after a medical team said they were strong enough mentally to handle the news, though many wept after hearing it.
“All cried and expressed their condolences by writing messages on a drawing of Lt. Commander Saman and observed one minute of silence for him,” Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary at the health ministry, said in the statement.
Photos released show the youngsters crowded around a sketch of Saman scrawling messages on it and bowing their heads in commemoration.
“They also thanked him and promised to be good boys,” the statement said.
Tributes from Thailand and around the world have poured in for Saman, a triathlete and diver who retired from the military in 2006 and worked at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport before volunteering to help with the rescue in northern Thailand.
Specialists who took part in the risky mission to bring the Wild Boars home have expressed shock and surprise that they were able to pull it off, with some fearing that there could have been more casualties.
The unprecedented and daring final push to bring the boys out saw them sedated and carried through waterlogged and partially dry corridors with the help of military stretchers and nearly 100 divers.
Health officials have conveyed a largely positive picture of the boys’ recovery. All are expected to leave hospital on Thursday.
The health ministry said the overall condition for the players and coach was normal, though many are still on a course of antibiotics.
Despite the positive assessments so far experts have said they would all need to be monitored closely for signs of psychological distress that could take months to manifest.
They spent nine days in the dark, dank cave before being located by two British divers.
The boys — and their parents — have been advised to spend time with friends and family and not to give media interviews as that could trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
But the interest in their story is unlikely to evaporate overnight, as Hollywood producers are already jockeying to make a film version of the saga.