Australia’s plan to close large cities for migrants
Australia’s plan to close large cities for migrants
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12 October, 2018, 02:24
The policy would aim to ease congestion and pressure on infrastructure in Australia's two biggest cities while boosting regional areas, the BBC quoted Population MinisterAlan Tudge as saying on Tuesday.
Australia's so-called points system for assessing potential migrants sees skilled workers ranked by their need, and they must also pass health and character tests. It would class five cities - Darwin, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra - as regional centres for migrants to settle in.
The minister would not specify what punishments might apply to migrants who breach their conditions, or how long the conditions would be imposed.
The resulting strain on infrastructure in Australia's eastern cities cost the economy A$15 billion (S$14.7 billion) past year, with annual forecast losses of A$40 billion by 2030 if left unchecked, Tudge told an audience at the Menzies Research Centre think-tank in Melbourne.
Mr. Tudge said placing conditions on visas that force immigrants to stay in less popular centers for several years would increase the likelihood that they would settle in those places permanently.
"This is a serious problem in Melbourne, Sydney and South East Queensland particularly, which the Coalition Government is rapidly addressing".
Mr Tudge said some categories of immigrants would be exempt from geographic blocks.
"It's certainly unsustainable to continue with the current model with the bulk of immigrants going to Sydney and Melbourne because it's creating significant pressure", said Tony Matthews, researcher at the Cities Research Institute.
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The number of foreigners arriving in New South Wales annually had ballooned from about 45,000 in the early 2000s to almost 100,000 today, said state premier Gladys Berejiklian - herself the daughter of Armenian migrants.
However, he added: "I'm not sure its legally viable".
While much of Australia is sparsely populated, Sydney, Melbourne and greater Brisbane are among the fastest-growing urban areas in the world. Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is in the early stages of drafting plans that will enforce no emigrants settling within these two cities.
There are also questions about the business impact in big cities, where job creation is outstripped migration, said James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Business and Industry.
"The key issue here is the distribution of the growth rather than the growth number", Tudge said on ABC Breakfast.
Australia's central bank governor said in August an influx of new residents had helped to underpin strong economic growth.
A new $1 billion pool of federal money, which the government is calling a "congestion-busting fund", will be set up to fix local traffic "hotspots".
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