Population debate unfolds during political forum at Emmaus College

SCENIC Rim and Logan politicians weighed in on a federal government discussion to require some newly arrived migrants to live outside capital cities.

POPULATION DEBATE: Wright MP Scott Buchholz discussed the idea of having newly arrived migrants living in regional areas. Photo: Toni Abberton

POPULATION DEBATE: Wright MP Scott Buchholz discussed the idea of having newly arrived migrants living in regional areas. Photo: Toni Abberton

Federal government cities and population Minister Alan Tudge has spoken publicly on migrants flowing disproportionately to metropolitan cities with 75 per cent of population growth concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

It has been reported that the federal government is looking at adding conditions to some skilled migrant visas requiring them to live in smaller towns to stimulate regional economies for at least five years.

Wright MP Scott Buchholz said the idea was not about forcing existing migrants to pack up and leave capital cities.

“I know as I move through western parts of Queensland while studying the affects of the drought...some of the crippling effects out there is that as economies soften communities leave. There is a smaller rate base for council and they are desperately looking for more people to go out there,” he said.

“There is  an argument that the reason why the Sydney and Melbourne economies are going gangbusters is because their economies are firing off the back of an increased population. So population is an important discussion to have when we are talking about planning.”

Mr Buchholz said migrants benefited from quicker processing of their visa by living in areas like Toowoomba at the edge of his federal electorate.

Logan MP Linus Power and Wright Mp Scott Buchholz. Photo: Toni Abberton

Logan MP Linus Power and Wright Mp Scott Buchholz. Photo: Toni Abberton

Logan MP Linus Power said it was a tough proposal and was yet to be convinced it would work in the long-term.

“(The federal government) are trying to alleviate the desire people have to come to greater Brisbane and are looking to diversify. I actually think it is a tough thing to do,” he said.

“We have to question whether new immigrants should sign on to stay in a particular areas. It will lead to more economic growth in (regional) areas, but that may not be their choice of destination and they might then move on from that fairly quickly.

“Even if we can force people to move into an area that is not their preference we may not see the results they want. We can not lock them there for life.”

Griffith University cities research institute director Paul Burton said it was important for the federal government not to shy away from a debate on how immigration could be more evenly distributed.

“Otherwise, we will end up with congested cities like Sydney and Melbourne growing and will struggle to attract and provide investment to make regional towns in Australia more attractive,” he said.

Emmaus College political forum panel.

Emmaus College political forum panel.

The topic was raised during a political forum at Emmaus College on Tuesday morning.

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