In an “exclusive” on the front page of Friday’s Australian, Simon Benson reports that migrant numbers for 2017–18 were 28,000 below the announced ceiling of 190,000. The reason: tougher vetting of visa applications. The fall “has been attributed to new integrity measures applied to the system following the discovery of a high number of fraudulent claims being made every year,” says Benson. The measures resulted in “a 46 per cent increase in visas being refused and a further 17 per cent rise in applications being withdrawn due to greater scrutiny.”
Home affairs minister Peter Dutton hasn’t released any explanation of the fall in numbers on his own or his department’s website, so we only have Benson’s figures to go by. Requests to the department and the minister’s office have so far elicited no response. But what we do know suggests that Benson has been taken for a ride, as have other journalists who picked up on his story.