The Government’s ‘new’ migration strategy is to send migrants to live and work in regional areas in Australia because cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are overcrowded.
The minister for population explains how the issue of overpopulated cities is not so much ‘historically high immigration levels’, but rather a backlog in major infrastructure.
He further says that the biggest challenge with bringing more migrants to regional areas will be finding the right incentives and conditions for migrants to move to regional areas and smaller cities.
“People are finding the trains are full and the roads are congested and people are blaming it purely on the growth rate when there is actually a number of issues at play,’’ Mr Tudge said.
While many quickly tend to blame migrants for congested roads and population growth, he also says the issue is “the lack of infrastructure keeping up with that growth”.
Tudge also mentioned introducing a “designated area migration scheme” (see current designated areas of Australia) which would mean that new migrants arriving in Australia would have to spend a certain period of time in a regional area or smaller city.
How will it work exactly?
There is criticisim as to how exactly the idea of moving jobs from Sydney or Melbourne to a small town in the regional area should take place. After all, migrants are migrating to the major cities because that’s where their skills are in demand. That’s where they have been sponsored to work or that’s where there are likely to find a job and contribute to the Australian economy.
One should also not forget that the Government has already introduced certain visas to attract migrants to the regional areas, such as subclass 489 or subclass 187. There are even Government sponsored regional visas in additional to state sponsored ones (see Occupation Lists for all states and regions).
While those incentives exist already, the question remains whether migrants will remain there long-term as hope for by the Government. One should also never forget that migrants often have some family members here living in the bigger cities, another reason for them to move closer to their family and friends. People after all have the right to freedom of movement and will be interesting to follow if and how the Australian government will try to settle migrants permanently in regional Australia.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that the majority of migrants are temporary visa holders and international students make up the largest cohort of those migrants. Often they live in major cities out of pure necessity seeing how the majority of training institutions and universities are also located in the major cities.
While there is no deny in Melbourne and Sydney dealing with congested roads and full trains, simply channelling all new migrants to regional areas won’t be as simple a solution. Infrastructure, planning and job creation will have to be in place first. Let us know what you think with a comment below!
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Opinion: Sending migrants to regional centres is not the answer