One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has ripped into the Federal Government’s plan to send migrants to regional areas of Australia for up to five years when they first arrive in the country.
On Tuesday, the government announced plans to direct new migrants to smaller states and regional areas around Australia to ease their impact on bigger cities. It came after Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said 87 per cent of all skilled migrants go to Sydney and Melbourne when they arrive in Australia. In the last year alone, Melbourne grew by 2.7 percent, Sydney grew by 2.1 per cent and South East Queensland’s population increased by 2.3 per cent.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berijikilann on Wednesday said instead of moving migrants to the bush, she wants NSW to instead halve its intake of overseas migrants to give the state time to prepare for their arrival. The Federal Government will ultimately decide whether or not the proposed plans go ahead, although as 2GB host Ben Fordham pointed out, individual states are the ones who must build schools and pave roads to accommodate a booming population.
Hanson appeared on 2GB radio on Wednesday where she said she had expressed her concerns about overpopulation long before the fuss that’s been made this week.
“I’ve been talking about this for years. It started in 1996 and I saw the writing on the wall then about immigration numbers,” she said.
She recalled former Prime Minister John Howard pulled back on population at the time because, she claims, the population wanted a change and could see problems with high immigration numbers.
Hanson said that many of her Canberra colleagues labelled her racist for her views on immigration, but they’ve since changed their minds.
“Now they’re jumping on the bandwagon and people who criticised me are now also starting to take up the call for it because of public outcry,” she said. “The public know. They’re suffering every day when they have to go into the congestion, whether it be on the road, trying to get into nursing homes, hospitals, schools, infrastructure, water. You name it.”
It was originally predicted that Australia’s population would hit 25 million by 2051, although the population surpassed this projection 33 years earlier than expected. The new plan from the Federal Government is to send migrants to the bush, rather than Australia’s big cities. Fordham said it would be easier to simply halve immigration, as Berijikilann has suggested.
Hanson said sending migrants to the bush was “a load of rubbish”. She explained that there are up to 7,000 multi-millionaires coming into the country on visas each year. The 64-year-old said the government won’t tell these migrants where to live and it’s highly unlikely they would move to rural areas.
She added that migrants who move to Australia want to be with their families in major cities and skilled migrants wouldn’t go to smaller areas.
“Is the government going to pay them?” she asked. “If we can’t get Australians to go out to rural and regional areas, how on earth are we going to get the migrants that come in here [to]?”