Australia rejects United Nations migration pact, sticks with hardline asylum-seeker policy

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Camera Icon File

Australia's conservative government announced Wednesday it would reject a UN migration pact already denounced by the United States and several European countries.

The UN Global Compact for Migration was agreed on in July following more than a year of negotiations and is supposed to help open up legal migration and better manage the movement of people around the world.

The pact has already been rejected by the USA administration of Donald Trump and conservative governments in Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a speech on the future of Australia's cities, said Sydney and Melbourne had been overwhelmed with population growth.

Australia's immigration policy already promotes "safe, orderly and regular migration", the statement continued.

The policy choked off what had been an active people-smuggling trade that saw hundreds of people die at sea trying to reach Australia.

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Scott Morrison thinks the answer to overcrowding could be cutting immigration numbers. Some have been there for years.

The US, Israel, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria have refused to sign the agreement.

Opinion polls show the opposition Labor Party well ahead of Morrison's Liberals.

"This will feed in to the setting of our migrations caps and policies for next year, ensuring that migration is finally tied to infrastructure and services carrying capacity", he said at the Bradfield Lecture in Sydney last night.

The call for further cuts comes ahead of national elections that have to be called by mid-May, with critics of the government saying it was pandering to the views of its conservative coalition's right-wingers and other far-right politicians.

He said the cut was needed to counter worsening congestion in the nation's main cities.

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