Government reshuffle could see new visas just for regional cities

by Ray Clancy on September 7, 2018

in Australia Immigration

Australia’s new look government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks set to introduce a new visa that would encourage more skilled professionals to move to regional areas of the country.

It has long been argued that too many people who move to Australia to work want to live in the bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, denying other cities of important skills.


The Morrison Government is expected to forge ahead with new skilled and family visas, which means that migrants will be compelled spend years in regional areas before they can move to a city like Sydney or Melbourne.

Australia already has a number of visa programmes aimed at encouraging people from overseas to move to regional cities including the Skilled Regional and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas.

But businesses have pointed out that once people become permanent residents they often move to the bigger cities when what these areas need are skilled professionals who want to stay and make their life in the area.

Official figures show that more than 90% of permanent arrivals choose to settle in the big cities on Australia’s East coast and there is little that employers in cities such as Adelaide, Darwin, Perth and Hobart can do about it.

However, it is unclear how the new visa programme would work in terms of compelling visa holders not to move. Labour politician Richard Marles has already questioned how the visas would function.

‘I’m not sure that mandating new immigrants living in regional Australia is going to work. I’m not actually sure there is the power to put that in place, to actually mandate that they do live there,’ he told Sky News.

However, former deputy Immigration Minister Alan Tudge, who is the new Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, is a supporter of the idea. He has already said that one of his greatest challenges in his new job is finding the right incentives to encourage more migrants to move to smaller capital cities in regional areas where there are lots of jobs on offer.

‘We always make sure the immigration settings are in the national interest. Where we can do better is to try to get a broader distribution of migration rather than nearly all migrants going to Melbourne and Sydney,’ said Tudge.

He added that he has visited regions across Australia where they are ‘crying out for any warm body to do the job’.

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