Labor’s plan to settle an extra 10,000 refugees each year in Australia will cost the budget $6 billion more over a decade, the Coalition claims.
Australia’s annual humanitarian intake of 17,750 people is already on track to cost more than $20b over the next 10 years, peaking at $3.3b a year by 2030.
But figures to be released by the Federal Government tomorrow show increasing the annual intake to 27,000 would cost an extra $6b over the decade, and $1b more a year by 2030.
As the Government seeks to ramp up the pressure on Labor over its immigration policies, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the extra cost was because of health, education, housing, settlement and welfare support.
“Labor need to be upfront about the cost of their policy to significantly increase our refuge intake. $6.2 billion dollars is a lot of money, and we need to weigh that against other priorities that matter to Australians,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australia does and will continue to run a generous refugee and humanitarian programme for those who seek to come to Australia the right way, especially women, children and families.”
Labor is disputing the figure, saying it is “false and over inflated”, pointing to its own costings from the last election which predicted a $2.8bn extra cost over the decade to 2027.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann targeted Labor for supporting the higher refugee intake while opposing $3.9bn in drought relief funding which the opposition has derided as a “slush fund”.
“Our Drought Future Fund would grow to $5 billion over that same period Bill Shorten wants to spend more than $6 billion on further increasing our already very generous refugee program,” Senator Cormann said.
“He is standing in the way of $100 million a year in additional funding to drought proof communities across Australia.”
Labor’s immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said the Government was desperate, shrill liars” accusing the Coalition of running an “unhinged scare campaign”.
“Australians understand our nation can be strong on borders and still treat people humanely,” he said.