Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Australia considers banning immigrants from settling in major cities

Australia considers banning immigrants from settling in major cities

At present, about two-fifths of Australia's 25 million people live in Sydney and Melbourne.

Berejiklian's call came a day after the federal government, which controls immigration numbers, said it was drawing up plans to require foreign migrants to temporarily settle in rural and regional areas to ease congestion in big cities.

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.

The Urban Infrastructure and Population Minister Alan Tudge is unveiling a new plan which will see some skilled migrants bound by new visa conditions.

However, some experts have questioned whether the idea is enforceable and likely to achieve its goals.

Australia has the fastest population growth of any advanced Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development country other than Canada, growing 1.6 percent a year.

The government is considering banning immigrants from settling in Sydney and Melbourne for five years after they arrive in the country, The Australian newspaper reported.

"At this stage the proposal is not detailed, but such visas may have geographical limitations... at least for a few years".

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Australia's population grew by an average of 220,000 every year between 1982 and 2007 but that figure has grown to 375,000 per year since 2007 with the majority coming from net annual migration.

"This is a serious problem in Melbourne, Sydney and South East Queensland particularly, which the Coalition Government is rapidly addressing".

There are also concerns as to whether regional areas will have the infrastructure in place to provide opportunities for migrants to obtain quality education, housing and employment.

He added that these steps may especially affect those who are not sponsored to work in one of the major cities by an employer, or are granted visas to join their families.

"Settling even a slightly larger number of new migrants to the smaller states and regions can take significant pressure off our big cities", Mr Tudge said in a speech on Tuesday.

While governments from the United States to the UK to Europe have clamped down on immigration, Australia has taken the opposite route: its permanent migration program welcomed nearly 184,000 new arrivals in fiscal 2017.

Melissa Montero, an immigrant advocate and chief executive of the Sydney-based community migrant resource centre, said immigrants need social support, language services as well as jobs to successfully resettle.

"Most of them have really liked living there in the bush, and said they had a warm welcome", he said.

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