Prime Minister Scott Morrison has strongly rejected suggestions his announcement of a cut to the nation’s migration levels is “dog whistling” on the race issue.
The Prime Minister fronted reporters at a news conference in Canberra immediately after briefing Cabinet ministers (pictured) on the new migration arrangements based on a report on ways to ease urban overcrowding and strains on services and infrastructure.
“Fair dinkum, I absolutely reject any allegation that this decision is being taken to appease racist and reactionary voters and anyone who ………,” Mr Morrison said before his voice rose to such a high pitch that it was undetectable to the ears of reporters.
Unfortunately, it was the “National Paws for Work Day” and ministerial pooches around the Cabinet table began to howl mercilessly.
After several minutes Mr Morrison’s voice returned to its usual pitch. “………fair dinkum policy.” And the dogs went quiet.
Mr Morrison doggedly dodged questions on why migration cuts were being announced when the actual annual intake was already running at a level lower than the official maximum set by the government and whether it was just a ploy to capture the far-right supporters of Pauline Hanson.
“Fair dinkum, I think we got it right on this one. Nation-building is a big job and we are doing it,” he said.
Mr Morrison brushed aside questions that pointed out both former PM Tony Abbott and would-be leader Peter Dutton had run hard on immigration limits and both had strong support in the Liberal Party’s conservative wing.
“Fair dinkum, as Prime Minister I am here to make policy for Australia. Some policy areas have shades of grey and debate is necessarily nuanced. This one is so black and white. Australia needs to take action now,” he said.
He said Australians were saying “enough, Enoch, enough” about overcrowding.
“The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments,” he said. “Could our future as a nation be any darkier than it is right now?”
When asked why his comments should not be seen as simply another way of saying “Fuck off, we’re full”, Mr Morrison said action was needed now to prevent future problems.
“Fair dinkum, unless we want huge problems down the track we can’t keep adding more and more people. We can’t. Nah. Rue it, we will,” he said.
Sweeping his arms as if to embrace those in the room, Mr Morrison said migration and population should be a concern for all Australians of any age and sex.
“Fair dinkum, it should be an issue for you. Me, as a man. Us. I land firmly on the side of taking action,” he said before his voice again rose to undetectable levels for the remainder of the news conference and the dogs started up again.