Treasurer’s meeting to focus on nation-wide population growth

Treasurer’s meeting to focus on nation-wide population growth
Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. Photo: Australian Embassy Jakarta, Wikimedia Commons

At today’s meeting of state and territory treasurers in Canberra, the Federal Government will attempt to introduce a plan to tackle Australia’s population growth.

However, some states are doubtful of the Government’s ability to deliver on promises made.

The Coalition has pledged $19.4 million as part of a strategy to attract skilled migrants to settle in regional Australia due to shortages outside capital cities.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg intends to ask his counterparts to unify behind a “long-term approach to population planning”, which includes addressing issues like infrastructure planning as well as facilitating more open sharing of population data projections across state borders.

Previously, Scott Morrison has supported enforcing a cut to permanent migration in order to “ease congestion” in Australia’s capital cities. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has continually raised concerns about the pressure increased levels of migration has put on infrastructure and services in her state.

On the other hand, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have signalled they want more federal support in attracting skilled migrants to their regions. However, there is no disclaimed growth target for those states and territories.

The Labor Government in Queensland has expressed it has been compelled to do all the “heavy lifting” when it came to the management of population growth.

Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said that if the meeting did not “result in genuine outcomes for Queensland” then it would simply be “another Canberra talkfest.”

This view was shared by Victoria’s Labor government, with Treasurer Tim Pallas criticising the Government for cutting funds for “schools and hospitals and short-change infrastructure funding” but also wanting to “have a meaningful conversation about population”.

Immigration Minister David Coleman is announcing extra funding to make regional towns more attractive for skilled migrants. It would expand agreements that lower the eligibility criteria for migrants who agree to settle in regional areas.

The Government also intends to fast track the processing of sponsored visas for those migrating to regional areas.