Labor urged to boost regional migration

An independent think tank for regional economies wants to see more overseas migrants settling in regional and rural communities to fill thousands of vacant jobs.

Jan 10, 2023, updated Jan 10, 2023
Photo: AAP/Dan Peled

Photo: AAP/Dan Peled

In a submission to the government’s migration review, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has called for a national population plan to encourage more overseas arrivals to consider a regional lifestyle.

Such a plan would consider the infrastructure needed to accommodate bigger populations in the regions, with severe housing shortages one reason people aren’t moving regionally.

The submission also urged the government to set a regional population target of 11 million by 2032, and to do more to advertise job opportunities in the regions.

RAI chief executive officer Liz Ritchie said people wanted to live in regional areas and that demand was not the issue.

“To have more migrants living in regional Australia, we need to provide further awareness about job opportunities, including job support services, and ensure we have communities with enough housing and critical soft and hard infrastructure,” she said.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil announced the review of the system last year, with migration considered a key piece of the puzzle when it came to easing Australia’s acute workforce shortages.

Separately, ANZ and Roy Morgan’s weekly consumer confidence indicator reflected a sense of new year optimism.

Consumer confidence lifted 4.9 points last week to hit 87.4, the highest level since September last year.

All confidence-related subindices picked up, with “future financial conditions” increasing by 8.3 points to above the neutral level of 100.

The indicator also saw a sharp drop in “weekly inflation expectations” compared to the survey done in the final week of 2022.

ANZ senior economist Adelaide Timbrell said this was the first new year jump observed by the indicator since 2018.

“While homeowners paying off mortgages are still reporting lower confidence than renters and outright owners, average confidence among all three groups rose in the new year.”

However, she said the gauge remained well below long-run averages.


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