A FEDERAL government inquiry into Australia's migration program should be as keenly watched in regional areas as it is in the major cities.
Announced last week, the inquiry will reportedly consider population and infrastructure pressures as part of a wide-ranging brief.
And it will also look at ways of encouraging new migrants to Australia to take up residence in the bush - which is where we need to take notice.
It has become something of a theme in recent migrant debates to offer regional areas as the panacea to soothe all ills. But it is far from that simple.
Regional Australia stands ready to accept migrants into our communities and many cities and towns could benefit greatly from an influx of skills.
There are towns in the western part of the state, in particular, that are suffering from declining populations that would love to welcome new families to fill their schools and shop at their stores.
But regional Australia cannot be viewed as a dumping ground to simply take pressure off the booming populations in our major cities' outer suburbs.
Migrants, particularly from a non-English speaking background, will require specialist support as they settle in to a new community and that support is too often lacking in the bush.
And the smaller the town, the less likely it is that the proper support will be in place.
However, where there's a will there's a way.
If the government is serious about boosting migrant settlement in the regions - and serious about putting in place the support networks to make it a success - then this inquiry might be just what we have been waiting for.
If governments are willing to make the proper investment in regional infrastructure - and that means schools, hospitals, roads, police, community services and even jobs through decentralising departments - then a golden era awaits for regional Australia and its new arrivals.
But if moving migrants to the bush is just viewed as a cost-effective solution to a growing problem, then the only outcome will be ruin.
This is one of those rare chances in politics where the government is able to do the right thing for all the right reasons.
Let's not squander the opportunity.