CANBERRA, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr called for the nation to cut its immigration rate in half on Monday night.
Carr, who served as Premier of New South Wales (NSW) from 1995 to 2005 and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2013, said that the growing pains associated with Australia's population boom could be eased if migration was reduced.
"Immigration is our character, 37 percent of the population of Sydney was born overseas. We celebrate it, but even those people, those born overseas are still asking whether we can achieve the same benefits at a less dramatic pace," he said on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Q&A on Monday night.
"74 percent of Australians think there is enough of us already.
"I think politicians and business leaders ought to be acknowledging that it has finally sunk in -- I thought it was a lonely voice for the long time."
Carr, who famously declared that "Sydney was full" during his time as Premier of NSW, went on to say that Australia's skilled migrant system, whereby priority was given to potential migrants who could fill a need in the local workforce, had failed.
His comments came several weeks after former Prime Minister Tony Abott made headlines by suggesting in a speech that the annual immigration intake be reduced from 190,000 to 110,000, a suggestion that was shot down by his successor as Prime Minister and political rival Malcolm Turnbull.
Despite drawing criticism, Abbott wrote on social media ahead of the Q&A on Monday night "that more supply means downward pressure on prices and more demand means upward pressure."
"Very high immigration means stagnant wages and unaffordable housing. That's why the numbers need to be scaled back now. We shouldn't be afraid of the debate," he said.