Australian States and Territories have agreed to develop a population plan with the Federal Government in an effort to address boost the population in smaller areas, overcrowding while directing migration to areas needing workers.
Scott Morrison had made migration and the nation’s population the main agenda of his first Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting since becoming prime minister, as state and territory leaders came together in Adelaide for the meeting.
The deal will enable the Federal Government to consider the population needs of all states and territories when setting the immigration target as part of the budget.
All jurisdictions will need to submit their population requirements by January 31.
It came after a presentation by Australian National University demographer Professor Peter McDonald at the meeting, who was invited by Scott Morrison, which undermined a federal government push to reduce the immigration target by 30,000 people to 160,000.
Professor McDonald said Australia needed more migrants to meet an anticipated shortage of two million workers over the next decade.
“I believe the current level of migration is the correct level for Australia at least for the next decade, because of labour market issues,” he told the Australian newspaper.
“We have a labour crunch, and the only way you can deal with that is migration.”
Mr Morrison had considered overhauling the nation’s population policy since he became prime minister.
He believed states needed to play a more active role in migration.
“In a state like South Australia, you want more people. In Adelaide you want more people. In states like New South Wales and Victoria, we need to manage that growth because the congestion impacts in Melbourne and in Sydney are affecting the quality of life for our citizens and residents in those cities,” Mr Morrison said ahead of the meeting.
He said the states needed to “work closely with the Commonwealth” to ensure that migrants were settling in places with a strong demand.
The change in population policy came in response to concerns in congestion in Sydney and Melbourne, but smaller states had been calling for increased skilled migration to boost jobs.
NSW Liberal premier Gladys Berejiklian had called for a 50 per cent cut to migration in her state with plans to slow the state’s population growth.
According to The West Australian newspaper, WA premier Mark McGowan had also planned to warn Mr Morrison that the state would not take migrants bound for Sydney and Melbourne unless Canberra provided more cash roads and hospitals.