Australia can be a bigger country’: Scott Morrison’s new Population Minister reveals he DOESN’T want to reduce immigration
Scott Morrison’s new Population Minister reveals he DOESN’T want to reduce immigration
New Minster for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge has outlined his plan for immigration policy which focuses on a ‘bigger Australia’ with more decentralised population areas.
‘My view has always been that Australia can be a bigger country. But ideally you have a broader distribution rather than very rapid growth in some areas,’ Mr Tudge told.
New Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mr Tudge are shifting the focus away from reductions to immigrant numbers and towards a redistribution of where they are settled.
Mr Tudge has said that he is in favour of population growth, however, the areas where new immigrants are settled must be broader and not focused in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne
‘I’m not suggesting that for a second that it’s migrants’ fault – not at all,’ he said.
‘If you’ve got regions that can’t find workers and smaller states that want more people, then the immigration program is something that should be looked at.’
He did, however, not comment on a specific plan that would require new migrants to settle in regional areas for five years as a condition of their visas.
A decision on the time period for mandatory settlement was due to go to the Turnbull cabinet last week, but the leadership spill put that discussion on hold, The Australian reported on Wednesday.
The proposal has yet to be put to Scott Morrison’s new cabinet, and the prime minister’s office would not comment on the development of the policy.
It is understood a new visa class would apply to the skilled and family migration program but could also apply to refugees.
Almost 90 per cent of new migrants are settling in metropolitan areas such as Melbourne and Sydney.
A population package put before Government before last week’s leadership spill included the proposal for new migrants to be settled in regional areas for a period of up to five years – after this migrants could choose to relocate.
The newly appointed PM has created a separate portfolio of population to be lead by former Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge.
Department of Home Affairs figures revealed by The Australian showed that of the 112,000 skilled migrants that arrived in the country over the previous financial year, 87 per cent settled permanently in Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Tudge has previously said that the number of incoming migrants was not the only factor in growing population pressures, but rather where these migrants were settling and the distribution being focused in major cities.
‘If the population was distributed more evenly, there would not be the congestion pressures that we have today in Melbourne and Sydney,’ Mr Tudge told a forum in Melbourne.
‘Nor would there be if the infrastructure was built ahead of demand,’ he said.