(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s government will outline a plan next week to reduce immigration, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“The new strategy we’ll announce will bring immigration back to sustainable levels,” he told reporters Saturday in Sydney. “We need to have a migration system that enables Australia to get the skills that we need, but make sure the system is working in the interests of all Australians.”

Australia’s surging population has boosted demand for everything from housing to transport and dining out, stoking inflation pressures but also helping the economy avoid a recession. The central bank estimates population growth, following a surge in post-Covid immigration, accelerated to a peak of 2.5% in the third quarter of this year.

Albanese said Treasury projections released in the mid-year economic and fiscal update next week will show migration dropping substantially in the year ahead. He declined to give specific targets.

Asked if the government could get net arrivals back to pre-pandemic levels, he said the administration has done a lot of analysis of the problem.

“We believe that it is certainly not just possible, but desirable and necessary that we ensure these levels are sustainable,” he said.

Albanese said a review of the immigration system showed it was “broken” and had been neglected. In October, the government said it wanted to tackle related fraud and exploitation, particularly abuse of student visas. It has also been making efforts to reduce lengthy visa-processing delays.  

Australia to Crack Down on ‘Systemic’ Visa Fraud, Exploitation

Albanese reiterated that his government wants to ensure that businesses can access the skills it needs, adding that the preferred way was to train Australians first, and then to target foreign workers.

“It makes no sense for Australia to advocate to have temporary migrants with temporary visas,”, he said. “If we can get an engineer with skills and give them a path to permanency so that they contribute here in areas that we know have had skill shortages over such a long period of time, then that is critical.”

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