Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton under fire for calling refugees ‘illiterate’

Opposition lawmakers say the minister’s comments were ‘vile’ and accused him of xenophobia

Australia’s immigration minister was accused of xenophobia on Wednesday after he said increasing the nation’s refugee intake would lead to “illiterate and innumerate” people claiming welfare or taking local jobs.

Peter Dutton was responding to proposals by the Labor opposition to boost Australia’s annual refugee intake from 13,750 to 27,000 while the Greens want it raised to 50,000 as they outline policies ahead of national elections on July 2.

“For many people they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language let alone English and this is a difficulty,” Dutton told Sky News late on Tuesday.

“Now, these people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“And for many of them they would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it. So there would be a huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that.”