Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has cut back the rates of permanent migration to the lowest they’ve been in 10 years. Picture: Daniel Pockett
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has cut back the rates of permanent migration to the lowest they’ve been in 10 years. Picture: Daniel Pockett

Migrants not staying in regional areas

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to strengthen rules requiring new migrants to fill skills shortages in regional areas, as new figures confirm one in every 10 foreign worker moves from the country to a city within 18 months.

The Home Affairs data released yesterday has also laid bare the skewing of the country's flagship regional migration visa, which has been sending people to capital cities in smaller states rather than country towns.

The new figures come after News Corp Australia revealed in May that the federal Home Affairs office was developing new visa rules to "bind" migrants to regional areas.

The new Home Affairs data shows half of foreigners using the regional sponsored migration scheme in the past two years were living in Perth.

 

Perth was removed from the eligibility list for the scheme in November, but other small cities including Adelaide remain.

In 2016-17, 2240 out of 4766 migrants on the regional visa were located in Perth.

Mr Turnbull said the government was planning to stop new migrants flocking to major cities rather than filling skills shortages in country towns.

He said having more migrants settling in regions rather than big cities was a matter to which the government was paying "constant attention".

"I can assure you because there are many parts of Australia where there are real skills shortages and labour shortages, particularly outside of the big cities," he said.

"It's something that we're working on.

"Once people move to Australia, once they're settled permanently, they have got freedom of movement.

"It's an issue that I'm very keenly alert to and when I get around regional Australia … and you've got to get out of the big cities and you can see that attitudes to migration are very different from one place to another."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the government of increased the number of foreigners with temporary work rights by 200,000, up to 1.6 million.

Mr Shorten said this increase forced wages down and undermined the need for ­apprenticeships.



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