Population growth on agenda at Treasurers’ meeting, as Federal Government tries to entice migrants to regional areas – Politics
The Federal Government will try to get the states and territories to agree to a plan for population growth at a meeting of treasurers in Canberra on Friday, but some states are sceptical about the Coalition’s commitment to delivering on its promises.
- Federal Government will want states and territories to agree to population framework
- Victoria and Queensland say they cannot be forced into such a deal when funding for services is not boosted
- Coalition to announce close to $20 million to attempt to boost regional skilled migration
The meeting comes as the Coalition pledges $19.4 million in an attempt to entice migrants to regional areas, to address skill shortages outside the nation’s capital cities.
Among other issues, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be asking his state and territory counterparts to agree to a “long-term approach to population planning”, examining issues such as infrastructure planning and ensuring population projections and data are better shared across borders.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested a cut to permanent migration levels to “ease congestion” in the nation’s major cities.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly warned of the pressures on New South Wales infrastructure and services as a result of more migrants calling her state’s cities and suburbs home.
At the other end of the spectrum, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have called for extra support to attract skilled migrants to their shores, but there is no set target for growth in their jurisdictions.
Queensland’s Labor Government said it had been forced to do the “heavy lifting” on managing population growth.
“We need a real commitment to our growing needs in health and education and the resolution of outstanding issues with national partnerships in early childhood, public dental care, remote housing and skills,” Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said.
“If this meeting doesn’t result in genuine outcomes for Queensland it’ll be clear it’s just another Canberra talkfest.”
The sentiment was echoed by another Labor government in Victoria.
“The minority Morrison Government’s population agenda is a sham — you can’t slash funding to Victorian schools and hospitals and short-change infrastructure funding, and have a meaningful conversation about population,” Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said.
Coalition cash for regional migrant programs
Ahead of the meeting, Immigration Minister David Coleman will announce funding to spruik regional areas as an attractive location for skilled migrants to settle.
The cash pledge, over four years, includes expanding the use of designated area migration agreements (DAMAs), which lower the criteria for skills, language and income for migrant workers.
Such agreements have already been rolled out in the Northern Territory and the south coast of Victoria.
The Federal Government will also speed up processing of sponsored visas in regional areas.
“Our skilled visa programs are about supporting Australian businesses and creating opportunities for more Australians,” Mr Coleman said.
“These regional initiatives will see the Department of Home Affairs work directly with regional employers and communities to attract migrants.”