Australian regional areas not getting enough skilled immigrants

In the wake of Australia’s population surpassing the 25 million mark, the Australian government is working on ways to encourage more people to settle in regional areas of the country.

Due to the rising population placing pressure on infrastructure, the government has looked to cut immigration in recent years. Last year’s permanent migration intake was 163,000, the lowest figure in a decade and significantly down from the 190,000 it had been since 2012.

However, of the 111,000 new skilled migrants who arrived in Australia last year, 87 per cent settled in Sydney and Melbourne alone.

This is leaving many towns and cities in regional areas crying out for skilled migrants at a time when the numbers of newcomers are dwindling.

“If the population was distributed more evenly, there would not be the congestion pressures that we have today in Melbourne and Sydney,” said Alan Tudge, the minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs, in a speech to the Business Council. “However, at the moment, nearly all the migration is to our two largest cities.

“Meanwhile, we have other parts of Australia wanting more people. South Australian premier Steven Marshall, for example, has said that they would like an additional 15,000 migrants a year. I have regional mayors telling me they want hundreds more in their area. The Warrnambool Standard in western Victoria recently had as their front-page headline: ‘Wanted – 1,000 workers.’”

Minister Tudge also revealed that the government was looking at formal programs to push migration to regional areas where there was demand for particular skills.

The Turnbull government has flagged a migration and settlement policy, to be released by the end of the year, that would include visas that would be conditional on a proportion of new skilled migrant arrivals settling in cities other than Sydney and Melbourne.

Article published 7th August 2018