COUNCILLOR Alex Christian has slammed the Federal Government’s proposal to require migrants with certain visas to settle in regional areas.
The plan was announced by Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, as a way to address population growth in congested capital cities while putting skilled workers in regional areas.
Australia’s current migrant intake is capped at 190,000 people annually.
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Under the proposal, around 45 per cent of migrants would be required to settle in regional areas for an unspecified number of years.
The policy, Mr Tudge said, would not affect the 25pc of migrants on employer-sponsored visas or the approximately 30pc who come on family reunion visas.
Cr Christian said the proposal could end up moving the over-population problem to regional areas.
“It’s a disaster – the federal government doesn’t have the courage to cut immigration or our refugee intake, so this is their solution,” he said.
“There appears to have been little to no foresight by both sides of our federal or state governments regarding infrastructure into the future. It’s an embarrassment.
“This country is adding a city the size of Canberra every year and we are completely unprepared.”
Bathurst could be viewed as a suitable location, he said, but it lacks infrastructure and a lot of the things that have made capital cities more appealing to migrants.
“Capital cities are more appropriate for migrants. They have the appropriate support networks, more services and more jobs than out here,” Cr Christian said.
“What concerns me about Bathurst taking on potentially hundreds or more migrants are our own infrastructure issues. Traffic in the CBD is a mess as it is, schools in the area are overflowing and our hospital is getting hammered.”
Infrastructure aside, Cr Christian said migrants had to contribute if they lived in Bathurst, but the city’s employment situation would make it difficult to do that.
“I just don’t think huge employment opportunities are here at the moment,” he said.
Enforcing the policy would also prove difficult.
“This is Australia and last I checked we enjoyed freedom of movement in this nation,” Cr Christian said.
“You can’t force people to live somewhere, surely.
“I have no idea how they expect to enforce this program; migrants will move to the major cities for more opportunities, it’s just a reality.”