Sarah Ferguson gave the Opposition Leader a tense grilling on Thursday night

Peter Dutton has repeatedly clashed with an ABC host in a fiery television interview over his plans to tackle the national housing crisis if he becomes Australia’s next Prime Minister.

The Opposition Leader sat down with 7.30’s Sarah Ferguson shortly after he delivered his reply to the Federal Budget in parliament on Thursday night.

He unveiled plans to slash the annual migration rate to 140,000 and reduce international student numbers to address the nation’s housing crisis if he wins next year’s federal election. 

Ferguson had some tough questions for Mr Dutton in their one-on-one sit-down interview, sparking an often heated exchange.

Tensions escalated after Ferguson questioned the ‘tone’ of his so-called Australia-first policy to reduce immigration.

Sarah Ferguson gave the Opposition Leader a tense grilling on Thursday night

Sarah Ferguson gave the Opposition Leader a tense grilling on Thursday night

‘Australia First doesn’t sound like a very Australian-type thing to say,’ Ferguson remarked.

Mr Dutton hit back by doubling down on his proposed policy.

‘Well, there are countless families I’ve spoken to, as I’ve gone around the country..of every nationality of people who’ve just arrived, people who are second-, third-generation from India or China – they can’t find a house for their child,’ he fired back.

‘For their child who’s in the workforce, working hard, paying taxes, but cannot for love or money buy a house.’

Ferguson interrupted: ‘No question we have a housing shortage.’

Tensions flared up again a few minutes later when Ferguson pointed out the benefits of international students to the Australian economy.

She used University of Sydney as an example, which made $1.4 billion last year from international students. 

‘Last year alone, 47 per cent of their students on campus are international students,’ Ferguson argued.

‘It’s worth pointing that the NAB said last year international students also accounted for more than half of all of Australia’s economic growth. 

‘They’re a very important cohort for Australian growth and productivity, aren’t they?’

Mr Dutton agreed but pointed out international students also need housing.

The tough questions about his proposed policies sparked a fiery response from Peter Dutton

The tough questions about his proposed policies sparked a fiery response from Peter Dutton 

He fired up again when Ferguson claimed that just four per cent of international students were actually in the rental market,

‘Really? Well, where are they living, Sarah?’ he hit back.

‘I’m not an expert in…housing,’ she said.

‘No, obviously,’ he interjected.

‘I’ll tell you where they’re living. They’re living in rental accommodation, which is evidenced by the fact that people are 40-50 deep when lining up for a rental property that they can’t get into.

‘Forty-nine people miss out in that equation.

‘I just say to you, why do we have a housing crisis in this country.’

Mr Dutton acknowledged the contribution international students make to the economy.

‘We need to have the planning in place before you bring people in, because otherwise, they displace Australians from housing which is exactly what’s happened,’ he said.

Earlier on the program, ABC’s political editor Laura Tingle branded Mr Dutton’s budget-in-reply speech as ‘very slogan-driven.’

‘Basically sort of appealing to all of those real sort of white-hot, very simple ideas of – ‘We can’t get enough houses. It’s all migration’s fault,’ she said.

‘I think that sort of sets us up for some pretty ugly politics which doesn’t require much rational, you know, detail of policy.’

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton delivered his reply to the Federal Budget in Parliament on Thursday night

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton delivered his reply to the Federal Budget in Parliament on Thursday night

In his third budget reply speech delivered on Thursday night, the Opposition Leader announced a number of policies across migration, housing energy, health and community safety in what he described as a road map to get Australia ‘back on track’.

‘The budget handed down on Tuesday is one of the most irresponsible I’ve seen,’ he said.

If elected, the Coalition will reduce the permanent migration program by 25 per cent, from 185,000 to 140,000 for the first two years, before rising to an intake of 160,000 in the fourth year.

Mr Dutton said this would free up more than 100,000 homes over the next five years.

The opposition would implement a two-year ban on foreign investors and temporary residents purchasing existing homes in Australia.

Mr Dutton said with Labor’s target to build 1.2 million homes by 2029 unlikely to be met, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was making the housing crisis worse.

The refugee and humanitarian program planning level will also be returned to 13,750.

Thousands of people, including pensioners, will be encouraged to get back into the workforce and the coalition will further increase the amount older Australians and veterans can work without reducing pension payments. 

The existing work bonus will be tripled from $300 per fortnight to $900, in a move slated to benefit more than 150,000 pensioners.

The number of hours those on student visas will be able to work will be lifted by 12 hours a fortnight.

A report from the government-appointed National Housing Supply and Affordability Council released in May found the housing crisis would worsen and the Commonwealth would fall short of its goal to build 1.2 million homes by hundreds of thousands.

But the prime minister said the budget offered support for the construction industry and increased commonwealth rent assistance.

‘You can’t undo 10 years of neglect in a couple of years – it takes time to do that,’ he told ABC Radio.

Mr Dutton said the coalition would back energy bill rebates in the budget, worth $300 for every household but warned the government was ‘treating the symptom, not the disease’ of inflation.

The Opposition leader slash the annual migration rate to 140,000 and cut back international student numbers to address the nation's housing crisis

The Opposition leader slash the annual migration rate to 140,000 and cut back international student numbers to address the nation’s housing crisis

The Opposition Leader is unlikely to support production tax credits worth $13.7 billion for hydrogen and critical minerals, the centrepiece of Labor’s Future Made in Australia plan.

‘Magic pudding spending and $13.7 billion on corporate welfare for billionaires doesn’t help the economy, or make your life easier,’ he said.

Mr Dutton said a coalition government would speed up approvals for gas projects and commit to an annual release of offshore acreage for exploration and development in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

He would also defund the Environmental Defenders Office.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese watches on as Peter Dutton hands down his Budget reply

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese watches on as Peter Dutton hands down his Budget reply

The Coalition would also restrict the sales of knives to minors and dangerous individuals and toughen bail laws for family violence, following a number of distressing attacks and murders, Mr Dutton said. 

He will back new offences criminalising the use of mobile phones or computer networks to be used to cause intimate partners fear or harm, and tighten bail laws.

The coalition has also pushed for Australians to be allowed to withdraw up to 40 per cent of their retirement savings – to a maximum of $50,000 – to buy their first home.

The proposal has been criticised by economists and the superannuation industry, who said it would push up house prices, put retirees with mortgages at risk and not benefit young Australians and renters.

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