Migrant groups revolt at being tied to regions

By Leith van Onselen

Yesterday, we reported how the Turnbull Government was seeking to force permanent migrants to stay in the regions, rather than migrate to the big cities.

This move comes after both the 2011 and 2016 Censuses showed that 86% of migrants into Australia have moved to the major cities, especially Sydney and Melbourne, with only a tiny fraction moving to regional areas.

Today, migrant groups have hit back, decrying the policy measure and punitive and unfair. From The ABC:

Migrant support groups say it would be deeply unfair to force some new arrivals to stay in regional and rural areas.

…the Assistant Minister for Families David Gillespie said it was “disappointing” and “counter-productive” for regional companies who sponsored migrants to have them move to a city.

Welcome to Australia chief executive, Mohammad Al Khafaji, said… “restricting people’s freedom of movement is not the solution when trying to welcome” new arrivals.

“The debate needs to move away from the reason why migrants are not staying and look at it as a whole. Why are people in generally not staying in regional towns?” he said.

“The answer is because there is not much investment in health and education.

“You can’t force people to stay in one place. What happens if migrants get married and can’t move to a capital city because there is a restriction on their visa?”…

“Instead of a punitive solution we need to make sure there is an incentive for anyone — not just migrants — to move to regional centres”…

As we noted yesterday, this is a blatant band-aid ‘solution’ dreamt up by the Turnbull Government to divert focus away from the key issue: that Australia’s immigration program is way too large, running at roughly triple the historical average, and has also become deeply unpopular within the electorate:

Many of Australia’s regional areas are devoid of water and cannot resort to desalination (since they located far from the sea). So how does the Government realistically expect regional Australia to cater for millions more people?

There are also potential constitutional issues with forcing permanent migrants to regional areas. According to MB reader Stephen Morris:

…they ignore Section 92 of the Constitution (“trade and intercourse between the States shall be absolutely free”). While it might be possible to place a temporary residence requirement on new migrants, it will certainly be illegal to force them into permanent residence in the regions. And the moment their indenture expires they will move to the metropolis like everyone else.

That won’t stop them using it as their main diversionary tactic.

Rather than resorting to gimmicks, cut the permanent migrant intake. At roughly 200,000 people a year (including the humanitarian intake), it is way too large to digest and places Australia on a path to 40 million people mid-century, which the majority of Australians do not support.

u[email protected]


  1. Why would getting married mean you’d have to move? That is, if you met some genuine type in your regional town. Are they implying that their communities have lots of arranged marriages between people who’ve never met? Isn’t that racialist?

  2. rentsailorMEMBER

    Clearly this is LNP ALP doubling down on MT’s now quoted ok-ness with 180k + 20k humanitarian.

    Flat out gimmick but clearly this is the lengths they’ll go to keep this going.

    I see enforcement on a real world level being the biggest issue if they were able to make this happen.
    200k per year, every year – for say ten years.. 2 million people (more than Perth population) to monitor??

    Let alone “Welcome to Australia chief executive, Mohammad Al Khafaji” and the lefties crying racism all the way to the high court.

    Let’s say they got such a monitoring program off the ground. The running costs would be astronomical (unless evil pete gets his AI and facial recognition).. the costs surely would out weigh the benefits..

    Oh.. wait..

    • Data matching will be a start if they are fair dinkum about making it work and not a red herring (smoke screen).
      Financial transaction records, Centrelink records, medical records and access to government funded services (eg education) will leave a digital trail which can be used to synthesise a profile.

      • rentsailorMEMBER

        I like it. Its totally do able.. I just wonder if theyll bother to enforce – or just dump them there and let them run free and say “we tried”

        As much as I hate to capitulate on the issue if they’re going to do it. They must be desireable places like Halls Creek they are sent to.

        Big Gov gets their extra public servants shuffling files and data – not actually producing anything. More 3rd worlders to drive uber and stuff mailboxes.

        Feels wrong even joking about it.

        Halve all migration!

    • If it is unenforceable, why are they complaining about it?

      Facial recognition is cheap. The iPhone X has it. Just require the “skilled” foreigner to present his face/eyes to a camera in the nearest food shop every week.

      • ThePensumMEMBER

        Worse… if it is enforceable, Australia becomes China (which has restrictions worker flows between regions, urban/rural etc)

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Enforcement does not seem difficult, even without the surveillance state option that some people get a hardon about.

      ATO will track address and employer (generally speaking, employer would need to be local as well – that’s kind of the point).

      Coupled with severe penalties for violation (ie: immediate deportation and immigration blacklisting for, say, 10-15 years, debilitating fines for any employer facilitating avoidance) would account for the vast majority of people.

      • no no… I got it… wait for it… waaaait for eeeeet!

        *Ask for a massive salary raise over and above what the natives ask because you work in a hardship area!*

        (and the crowd goes wild!): OOOOHH!!! 🙂

  3. The fact that globalists are complaining about it means it is a bloody good idea.

    Simply copy Switzerland – it does not even let foreigners apply for citizenship unless they have been living in Switzerland for more than 10 years!

    • rentsailorMEMBER

      You cant put downward pressure on wages with a sensible policy like that.

      • Regarding the Globalist/Neoliberal breed: I’d like to put a downward pressure on their throats… with my boot… on the accelerator pedal of my car.

  4. haroldusMEMBER

    “The answer is because there is not much investment in health and education.

    Investments already having been made by existing taxpayers mate.

    • Don’t you love it. They come here for our free education and health care, and it’s not good enough in the regions. He then goes on to basically say that existing citizens should be the ones moving to the regions.

    • probably really wanted to say not enough investment in airconditioned malls like westfeilds for the husbands to walk around Monday to Friday like they can in Liverpool

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Tell ’em to stump up a $100k ‘donation’ towards building a new school room before they come over. That should ease the lack of facilities thing quite a bit.

    • Or just charge migrants hefty sums like $100k+ each and then use that money to invest in those regions. So that way they have to pay their way, not get a free ride via the rest of us tax payers. That way we can build out the regions on the back of migrant money.

    • Well – not all of them – but indeed – some come with some habits which make them repulsive (chinese lurgie)

      Oh – wait – you didn’t mean that, did you? 😛

  5. elasticMEMBER

    I can just imagine our Border Force henchmen patrolling the city streets stopping and asking foreign looking folks for their papers.
    Anyway, what’s the point of moving to Oz if you can’t make use of all that infrastructure that some other taxpayer has already paid for.

  6. wait, dont these proposals just apply to permanent residents on visas intended to serve regional areas in the first place? so how many people are actually going to be affected by these putative changes? hardly any i’d guess.

    who cares

    • The regional residency requirements on regional PR visas are not enforced, and most people who go for them because they can be easier to get, know that. Per a migration agent I once knew, they’re actually legally unenforceable, because the definition of permanent residency in Australia is “pretty much all the rights except for voting and carrying a passport”. You can’t tell SOME permanent residents that they don’t have the right to relocate around Australia, per current regulations.

      So they’d probably have to create another class of resident such as “provisional permanent resident” with a 10 year waiting period out in the regions which, if satisfied, would then lead to full PR.

  7. All that needs to be done is to extend the time required before an immigrant qualifies for permanent residency. Those on temporary visas that are tied to regional employment will then be obliged to stay there for longer.

    • mild colonialMEMBER

      Exactly. And there was the other report of 1.3 million from immigration over a recent five year period that I saw posted somewhere this week. It’s 250,000 or more a year.

      • SchillersMEMBER

        The average Net Overseas Migration (NOM) during the first 4 years of Abbott and Turnbull has been 203,000. It was 239,000 during the 6 years of Rudd/Gillard/Rudd. During the last 4 years under Howard/Costello it averaged 143,000. In the 5 decades post WW2 it averaged around 80,000 per annum, with massive swings up and down from year to year.
        In the 5 years to June 30, 2017, NOM totalled 1,057,000.
        (Source: ABS data set 3412.0. NOM and contents of population growth.)

  8. Pauline Hanson

    I say bring on the migration bandwagon, my estimate is triple the current rate and build up the regional cities, with cheap solar power Australia has the resources to fit 80 million people quite easily within its borders, heck Tasmania could fit 40 million at the population density of England. I don’t understand why you Macrobusiness members are so scared, I mean even the Roman empire only lasted a few hundred years or so, bit naive of you to believe that you can make the falling Anglo empire last any longer?!?!