Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Migrants to be forced into regional Australia under federal government population plan

Migrants to be forced into regional Australia under federal government population plan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government is in the early stages of drafting plans to force thousands of migrants to settle outside the nation's two largest cities.

Mr Tudge wants to correct the "imbalance" by expanding the mix of geographical visa conditions and incentives imposed on new arrivals.

Tudge said Australia's rapidly increasing population is "a serious problem", after Melbourne grew by 2.7 per cent past year alone, Sydney by 2.1 per cent and South East Queensland by 2.3 per cent.

An official in Tudge's office, who declined to be named, said migrants could be restricted from settling in the biggest cities for up to five years. Around two in every five Australians live in Sydney and Melbourne alone.

Australia has the fastest population growth of any advanced Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development country other than Canada, growing 1.6% a year.

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The main driver of population growth in Sydney and Melbourne was overseas migration, with 87 percent of skilled migrants to Australia and nearly all refugees gravitating to those cities.

"We've got very rapid population growth in Melbourne, Sydney and southeast Queensland particularly, and yet we've got very low population growth in the rest of the country".

"Most of them have really liked living there in the bush, and said they had a warm welcome", he said.

Australia's population grew 3.75 million, almost twice the previous decade, adding a city the size of Canberra every year.

Growth in the Brisbane-Gold Coast region reflected higher levels of population shift within Australia and a higher birthrate. Sponsored employees make up 25 percent of Australia's immigrant intake and family reunion visas make up 30 percent.

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The main factor, in Sydney and Melbourne, is net overseas migration, that accounted for 60 percent of national population growth over the last 10 years.

Though Tudge claims smaller states such as South Australia are "crying out for more workers", Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews says he is not in the business of telling people where to live but migration policy reform to that effect is a matter for Canberra.

However, said Prof Collins, research showed that migrants had thrived in smaller communities with strong employment.

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Mark Morey, secretary of Unions NSW, which represents trade unions in New South Wales state, said the government's plan would leave immigrants isolated, with fewer job options and with less pay than they could hope for in big cities.

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This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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