Federal Government releases population planning policy

The Federal Government has released a population policy, which focuses on capping migration, building infrastructure and planning for more evenly distributed population growth.

The Planning for Australia's Future Population policy follows a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in December 2018 which determined that population would be included as an agenda item for discussion at all future meetings, and tasked Treasurers, along with the President of ALGA, to develop a National Population and Planning Framework.

The inaugural meeting of the Treasurers Forum on Population was held in February, and agreed to establish two working groups - one covering Regional Analysis while the other will cover Data and Forecasting.

Key points of the government’s population policy include:

1. Reducing the migration cap by 15% and incentivising more new migrants to settle outside the big cities where there are jobs and services.

  • Reducing the migration ceiling from 190,000 to 160,000 places.

  • Introducing two new regional visas for skilled workers requiring them to live and work in regional Australia for three years before being able to access permanent residence. 23,000 places will be set aside for these regional visas. Under the two new regional visa categories, skilled migrants will be priority processed and will have access to a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in major cities. Migrants on these visas must demonstrate they have lived and worked in regional Australia for three years before being becoming eligible to apply for permanent residence.

  • Introducing new tertiary scholarships to attract Australian and international students to study in regional Australia ($15,000 scholarships will be available to more than 1000 domestic and international students each year).

  • Giving international students studying at regional universities access to an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

2. Reducing congestion on roads and trains.

  • Plan to better connect regional centres with fast rail.

  • Investing $75 billion in road, rail and air infrastructure across the country.

  • Investing more in congestion-busting infrastructure through the $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund.

3. Working more closely with state and territory governments to match infrastructure with local population need.

  • Population management as a fixture of future COAG discussions with the adoption of a bottom-up approach.

  • Continuing to deliver new City Deals and Regional Deals to ensure three levels of government working together.

  • Establishing a Centre for Population, ensuring there is a central, consistent and expert perspective on population growth. The Centre will pursue opportunities to improve data and research on population and facilitate collaboration on population planning across Commonwealth, State, Territory and Local governments.

The full policy document, Planning for Australia's Future Population, is available here.

The full policy is available here.

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