Historically, immigration authorities have set planning levels for permanent visas that serve as targets in recognizing the need for migrants.

However, the levels have become “ceilings” under the coalition plan. The annual report for the Department of Immigration, which now sits within the Department of Home Affairs, added the “Plan level ceiling, not goals” qualification to its terminology in 2014-15.

The planning level for the seven years was set at 190,000 before being capped at 160,000 for the current year.

Permanent consumption fell from around 190,000 to 184,000 in 2015-16, from 162,000 the following year.

If Mr. Hourigan and Mr. Sherrell are accurate, then the figure for 2019-10 could be 150,000 or even less.

In the same period temporary migration, mostly driven by international students, has raised the official population figure of Australia.

Net foreign migration – which includes temporary visa holders – is predicted to increase by more than 10,000 between 2018 and 2019 to around 270,000.

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