Coalition to ‘slash immigration intake’, sending migrants to regional areas

The government is reportedly seeking to put a cap on immigration numbers. Source: Getty.

The number of migrants granted permanent visas to reside in Australia looks set to dramatically reduce in coming years, as it has been reported that the Coalition are preparing to announce plans to slash the country’s immigration intake.

According to The Australian, Scott Morrison’s government will announce plans to cap the immigration intake at 160,000, which is a reduction of around 30,000 people per year.

The proposed move, which has reportedly been given the green light by Cabinet, would see the official ceiling on numbers cut from the current figure of 190,000, which was imposed by the Coalition in 2015. It was also revealed that the government will seek to settle a greater number of the general skilled migrant stream in cities outside of Melbourne and Sydney, with visa conditions requiring applicants to reside in regional centres for at least five years.

Overseas students will also be targeted in the changes, with the government expected to push more students towards attending regional universities and study in cities other than the two biggest capitals.

Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “It’s about the composition of your migration programme and how that’s structured. Ensuring that you’re taking the opportunities where there needs to be more population growth and easing the pressures in the places where population growth is causing negative impact.

“Managing population growth isn’t just about the migration intake, it’s about the destination migration agreements, it’s about infrastructure and congestion busting, it’s about city deals that provide for the quality of life for people who live in our urban centres, it’s about all of these things. That’s how you manage the impact of population growth.”

The announcement is expected in the run up to May’s federal election as Morrison gears up to head to the polls as leader of the Liberal Party for the first time since replacing Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in August last year.

The proposals echo those revealed by Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge in October last year as he addressed the rising problem of congestion in the country’s three busiest capital cities.

Delivering his first major speech since inheriting the portfolio, Tudge laid out plans to deal with problems such as busy roads and heavy traffic, a lack of train lines and an increasing population, ahead of the release of the government’s population policy.

“Australia has some of the greatest cities in the world,” he said at the time. “Our cities are vibrant, cosmopolitan and economic powerhouses. We want to maintain this vibrancy and economic growth. We want to continue to invest in their supporting infrastructure, including: sporting, cultural and environmental assets.

“But we also have to be serious about the challenges of very rapid growth, particularly the congestion challenges. We have to do the short-term fixes, but also invest for the future and have better plans that match our population growth with infrastructure development.”

In January it was revealed that the number of people who applied to become fully-fledged Aussies increased massively over the past year.

Department of Home Affairs data seen by Starts at 60 revealed that 239,413 people applied for citizenship by conferral – the pathway commonly used by those who already possess permanent resident status – in the last financial year.

This figure is up by 17.5 per cent from the previous year when 203,793 applications by conferral were lodged by hopeful citizens, according to statistics published by the federal government in response to a Senate estimates question on notice.

What are your thoughts on this story? Do you think current migration levels are too high?

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