Jim Chalmers makes extraordinary claim that one factor is NOT fuelling Australia’s inflation crisis

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers has denied high immigration is responsible for high inflation with the extraordinary claim contradicting the Reserve Bank.

A record 500,000 overseas migrants came to Australia during the last financial year, new figures due out this week are expected to show. 

Australia’s inflation pace of 4.9 per cent in October remains well above the RBA’s 2 to 3 per cent target.

But asked if strong population growth from high immigration was driving inflation, Dr Chalmers argued it wasn’t.

‘Primarily, our inflation is driven by other things, including global oil prices in that September quarter, but some other drivers as well,’ he told Sky News host Kieran Gilbert on Sunday.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has denied high immigration is responsible for high inflation - contradicting the Reserve Bank

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has denied high immigration is responsible for high inflation – contradicting the Reserve Bank

The Treasurer's suggestion that expensive petrol prices are fuelling inflation has contradicted Reserve Bank Governor Michele Bullock's assertion that high immigration was behind Australia's 'sticky' services inflation

The Treasurer’s suggestion that expensive petrol prices are fuelling inflation has contradicted Reserve Bank Governor Michele Bullock’s assertion that high immigration was behind Australia’s ‘sticky’ services inflation

This was after a Resolve Political Monitor survey of 1,605 people for The Sydney Morning Herald showed 62 per cent of voters thought immigration was too high, with only 16 per cent of respondents endorsing Labor’s approach.

The Treasurer’s suggestion that expensive petrol prices are fuelling inflation has contradicted Reserve Bank Governor Michele Bullock’s assertion that high immigration was behind Australia’s ‘sticky’ services inflation.

‘We’ve had very strong immigration in Australia,’ she told a Hong Kong forum of central bankers last month.

‘And even though we see consumption per person declining, in total consumption has held up.

‘That has also meant that demand has held up.

‘That’s the reason why we’re seeing services price inflation is quite sticky in Australia.’

Services inflation in the year to September climbed by 5.8 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed in its quarterly consumer price index.

In October, automotive fuel prices went up by 8.6 per cent over the year, but this marked a big drop from the 19.7 per cent annual pace in September, the more volatile monthly inflation series showed. 

With rents going up by 6.6 per cent annually in October, Dr Chalmers announced foreign investors would pay triple the application fees if an investment property was vacant for six months or more. 

‘We want those properties on the rental market, if you’re not using it,’ he said.

‘There are too many properties empty around Australia. Part of the challenge here is that we do have these tough foreign investor rules, but we want to make them tougher.’

But the treasurer didn’t link expensive rent with surging population growth or an influx of international students moving to Sydney and Melbourne, in particular. 

Australia’s net overseas migration levels are also at record highs.

It climbed by 454,400 in the year to March and new figures for June, due out on Thursday, are expected to show immigration levels climbing above 500,000 in a year for the first time ever.

‘Last financial year, net overseas migration peaked north of 500,000 people and we expect it to come down substantially next financial year,’ Dr Chalmers said.

Australia's net overseas migration levels climbed by 454,400 in the year to March and new figures for June, due out on Thursday, are expected to show immigration levels climbing above 500,000 (pictured is Sydney's Wynyard train station)

Australia’s net overseas migration levels climbed by 454,400 in the year to March and new figures for June, due out on Thursday, are expected to show immigration levels climbing above 500,000 (pictured is Sydney’s Wynyard train station)

Treasury forecast 400,000 new net arrivals in 2022-23 in the May Budget, with that intake slowing to 315,000 in 2023-34.

But monthly official overseas arrivals and departures data showed 429,580 migrants, on a net, basis, moved to Australia in the year to September, suggesting population growth levels are yet to substantially moderate.

Treasury is releasing updated net overseas migration predictions on Wednesday as part of its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil is expected to announce on Monday a 185,000 cut to net overseas migration over four years.

This would mean 1.310million migrants moved to Australia in the five years to June 2027 instead of 1.495million as forecast in the May Budget. 

Her department in May set the permanent intake for 2023-24 at 190,000 which suggests the immigration intake cuts are likely to come from the international student influx, classified as long-term. 

Treasury in May forecast almost 1.5million migrants moving to Australia in the five years to June 2027, as the annual intake fell back to 260,000 in 2024-25.

But even this would be well above the 182,100 in 2006 during the mining boom.

Dick Smith has called for net overseas migration to be cut back to 70,000 a year, to equal the 20th century average, telling Daily Mail Australia Labor had failed the battlers in the suburbs who can’t afford a house. 

‘Labor has failed the working class because it hasn’t communicated that we need to have a population plan,’ the 79-year-old entrepreneur said.

‘You would think they would have a population plan so working people can afford to buy a house and can afford to buy their food.

‘We need to have sensible levels of immigration so people can afford a house as they’ve done for the first one-and-a-half centuries of our country.’

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