Australia’s annual refugee intake has been cut by thousands of places in the federal budget.
The Morrison government will slash the maximum humanitarian intake from 18,750 places to 13,750 over the next four years.
The measure is expected to save almost $1 billion.
Amnesty International said the government’s decision made no sense at a time more people than ever needed help.
Campaigner Shankar Kasynathan said refugees across Australia had gone above and beyond to help their communities through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Instead of seeing these people as a financial burden, this government should be welcoming them with open arms,” he said.
“It’s the humane thing to do. It’s also, economically and for our communities, the most sensible thing to do.”
The cut was bundled together with announcements about English language and community sponsorship programs.
The budget also locks in an extra $30 million over two years to attract talented workers to Australia.
The program builds on existing schemes and an initiative specifically targeting Hong Kong, which has been rocked by draconian national security laws introduced by Beijing.