With the Australian population set to tick past 25 million people at about 11pm on Tuesday, the government is seeking to encourage new migrants to live and work outside Sydney and Melbourne.Of the 111,000 new skilled migrants who arrived in Australia last year – the largest cohort of permanent arrivals – 87% settled in the two biggest cities. The minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs, Alan Tudge, was due to argue in a speech on Tuesday for a greater geographic spread of migration, to relieve pressure on housing and infrastructure.“If the population was distributed more evenly, there would not be the congestion pressures that we have today in Melbourne and Sydney,” the text of his speech to the Business Council said. “However, at the moment, nearly all the migration is to our two largest cities.
“Meanwhile, we have other parts of Australia wanting more people. South Australian premier Steven Marshall, for example, has said that they would like an additional … 15,000 migrants a year. I have regional mayors telling me they want hundreds more in their area. The Warrnambool Standard in western Victoria recently had as their front-page headline: ‘Wanted – 1,000 workers.’”
Tudge’s speech reiterated the government’s position that Australia depends on a significant skilled migrant intake, citing Treasury figures that show a 1% increase in population correlates with a 1% increase in GDP. Migrants add to the tax base, fill employment gaps and bring down the median working age.“We want the best and brightest from the around the world,” the speech said. “We need to not just be open to facilitating skilled migrants coming here, but in the case of the global super talent, actively seeking them out.”
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Sydney – Australia’s largest city – from a satellite. The country’s population will pass 25 million late on Tuesday. Photograph: Planet Observer/Getty Images/Universal Images Group