Recently appointed Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison is pepping up the refurbish of immigration and population policy.
According to the media reports, the Prime Minister is a strong supporter of immigration and believes that it is the key source of economic growth and thus, is planning to consider a program that will encourage migrants to settle in the regional area of Australia for five years.
This plan is a response to “community concerns about urban pressures and congestion as well as social integration.”
However, this program is certainly to be unsuccessful, keeping aside the dog-whistle politics. This program will force applicants to live in a particular place for five years and thus, would hamper the “freedom lovers” movement.
More considerably, the legal experts are questioning the legality of Commonwealth law that is restricting the person’s long-term movements.
“The Department of Home Affairs says you can’t compel people to live in particular cities, “said frontbencher Andrew Leigh.
Also, the economic benefits of forcing people in regional areas is uncertain as Australia has already a number of visa programs especially designed to attract regional areas of Australia namely Skilled Regional and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
A recent study shows that visa programs did boosted the regional activity in the short term but also caused wages to decline in those areas. However, in the longer term there was no benefit to the regional areas as mostly migrants moved to the major cities.
Though, Employment in big cities like Melbourne outshined the regions and this attracts the migrants to come and work in the major cities. In previous year, 87 percent of 112,000 skilled migrants arrived in Australia permanently got settled in Melbourne and Sydney.
On the other hand, Australia’s regional visa are undersubscribed with just 12,000 (5 percent) of 184,000 migrants given permanent places in Australia regional areas.
The Australian trend of shifting to big cities is common, in 1929, 57 percent of Victorians lived in Melbourne and in current times, almost 80 percent of Victorians resides in Melbourne.
Additionally, the Morrison government is also planning to slow the number of overseas students coming to study in Melbourne and Sydney. The encouragement will now be focused on inviting overseas students to look beyond Sydney and Melbourne.
International education is a $28 billion export earner for Australia. The percent of international students residing in regional areas of Australia is very less (only 10%) and Melbourne and Sydney attract 65 percent of all students.
Thus, the Morrison government must focus on improving the regional cities for more intake of migration. By harnessing the three levels of government- to address the uneven distribution of people, jobs, houses and infrastructure could lead to better national strategy.
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