Shorten’s plan for immigration
BILL Shorten wants to tackle Australia's population issues in a joint-party plan tackling the country's growth.
The Labor leader has written a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking that he consider creating a population taskforce that would outline recommendations both parties could accept.
That taskforce would look at temporary work visas, infrastructure development, service delivery such as health and education and settlement policy.
In his letter seen by The Weekend Australian, Mr Shorten has placed population growth among the great policy challenges facing the nation.
He indicated he could support a new settlement policy that would redistribute people away from the congested capitals of Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Morrison is yet to comment on the letter but is in Tasmania today.
The Coalition is expected to deliver a major policy on the issue before the end of the year.
Australia's population passed 25 million in July, two decades earlier than was forecast.
"Population policy runs the risk of being politicised by those seeking to divide Australia, and (who) see political opportunity in polarising opinion in the community," Mr Shorten wrote in the letter.
"The best way to ensure enduring policy settings is for a bipartisan approach - one that sets overarching principles to guide policy development, regardless of the party in government.
"This would give the community and business comfort that the national interest is driving government policy.
"I am therefore asking you to join Labor in the establishment of an independent and expert population taskforce that would provide recommendations that both parties could accept and use to underpin population policy development."
Under Mr Shorten's plan, the taskforce could be established under Treasury with six members agreed upon by the government and opposition.
Both parties would then need to agree to a set of recommendations.
In his letter to Mr Morrison, Mr Shorten wrote: "As you would be aware, there is no single policy lever - a multifaceted approach is needed that ensures we maintain our standard of living.
"More important is a consistent approach that will last well beyond the political cycle and that requires the support of both major political parties."
In August it was revealed the Morrison Government was considering a plan that would require new migrants to settle outside of Sydney and Melbourne for up to five years.
Between 2006 and 2016, the majority of arrivals have settled in Sydney or Melbourne, at 27.6 per cent and 26.3 per cent of total arrivals respectively.
By comparison, only 3.2 per cent moved to regional NSW, and 1.9 per cent to regional Victoria.
But last month Mr Morrison took aim at Australia's obsession with population growth, saying it is a "fairly irrelevant statistic" and immigration policy is far more nuanced than many of us realise.
He said temporary migration and natural population growth, caused by the people who already live here having children, were far more significant factors than immigration.
"I've never bought this idea that the permanent immigration intake is the thing fuelling population growth. Because it's not borne out in the actual maths," Mr Morrison said in an exclusive interview with news.com.au.
"When it comes to population growth at the moment, there are 10 extra people that have got on the bus. Just over four of them are temporary migrants. Just under four of them were born here, a natural increase. And only two of them are permanent migrants."
Read more at The Weekend Australian.