Migrants wishing to settle in Australia could soon be unable to lay down roots in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for up to five years, as the government attempts to tackle congestion in the country’s three busiest capital cities.
Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge delivered his first major speech since inheriting the portfolio at the Menzies Research Centre in Melbourne on Tuesday, discussing his plans to tackle issues sparked by rapid population growth.
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,” Tudge said. “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.”
One way in which Tudge is planning to reduce congestion is by directing migrants to smaller states or regional areas, as currently 87 per cent of all skilled migrants go to Sydney and Melbourne, as well as almost all of the humanitarian intake.
Tudge said Australia’s rapidly increasing population is “a serious problem,” after Melbourne grew by 2.7 per cent last year alone, Sydney by 2.1 per cent and South East Queensland by 2.3 per cent. The state capitals are among the fastest growing cities in the world.
“Matching the skills of new migrants with the skill shortages in rural and regional Australia will be key to the success of this approach,” Tudge said. “Net overseas migration accounts for 60 per cent of our overall population growth and around 75 per cent of the growth of the big two cities.
“This is a serious problem in Melbourne, Sydney and South East Queensland particularly, which the Coalition Government is rapidly addressing. Settling even a slightly larger number of new migrants to the smaller states and regions can take significant pressure off our big cities.”
He then outlined four ways in which the coalition is planning to tackle the congestion and population issues, which are; boosting spending on infrastructure to build major intra-city roads and rail networks; improve local congestion ‘pinch points’; ease the population pressure off the three big cities and grow the smaller states and regions.
Tudge went on to outline the final element of the government’s plan, which is to introduce a better population planning framework so that federal and state levels of government can better work together to avoid problems triggered by a boom in population, such as lack of school places or insufficient transport services.