Planning for growth can boost our regions

A focus on our regions and vital infrastructure are welcome additions to Australia’s population debate, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Australia needs a strategic population plan that doesn’t just talk about the number of skilled migrants arriving but tackles the issue of growth in the regions. Today’s announcements are a step in the right direction.

“While Australians in our major cities are frustrated by congestion, those in our regions have told us they need more people, skills, jobs and investment.

“Australian cities need to be better places to live and we need to encourage growth in our regional centres.

“New infrastructure and the right incentives to attract migrants to the regions can improve the quality of life for people in our congested cities and open up opportunities for people in our regions.

“We welcome recent moves to better co-ordinate growth across the country and between the states and the federal government, these commitments must continue so regions get the new skills they need to keep growing.

“Well managed skilled migration contributes to a growing and stronger economy. It is important that the migration program continues to prioritise skilled migration and retains a strong employer-nominated program, which is particularly important for filling positions experiencing skill shortages quickly.

“Migration has been such a success story for the country.

“We do not have the social cohesion issues other countries face. Skilled migration, temporary and permanent, has brought technology transfer, it has brought people to the regions, it has brought the capacity to deliver on huge projects, and it has brought a diversity of culture and people.

“Any changes to our immigration intake need to be regularly reviewed to make sure we are delivering Australia’s long-term economic goals and they do not lock in poorer budget outcomes and lower economic growth.”