Australia seeks to settle migrants outside major cities

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

The main driver of population growth in Sydney and Melbourne was overseas migration, with 87 percent of skilled migrants to Australia and nearly all refugees gravitating to those cities.

A Shorten government would set up a new independent body, he said, to investigate which industries had true labour shortages.

Tony Matthews, researcher at the Cities Research Institute explained that the current situation, with majority of immigrants living in Sydney and Melbourne, isn't sustainable in the long run, but the new proposal too may not really work out.

Mr Tudge said placing conditions on visas that force immigrants to stay in less popular centres for several years would increase the likelihood that they would settle in those places permanently.

Scott Morrison's newly appointed "congestion-busting" minister for population and cities, Alan Tudge, announced the plan at a speech in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Migrants who were sponsored by employers would be able to work where employers need them, and those on family reunion visas - typically a foreigner marrying an Australian - would also be free to live where they chose.

"Migrants will gravitate to opportunities and amenities in cities", he tweeted Tuesday. "We haven't outlined all of the precise details just yet", he said.

Three-quarters of Australia's total population growth over the last five years is accounted for in Sydney, Melbourne and southeast Queensland-the country's largest population areas.

"Certainly in Sydney you've got infrastructure being built right across the city".

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However, he added: "I'm not sure its legally viable".

The 2002 Intergenerational Report had predicted that Australia would grow by 2.5 million over the past 15 years-but the growth was about 5 million, outstripping forecasts by 100 percent.

Immigration is expected to be an issue in the next federal election due before May 2019.

"Any policy that spreads migration will resonate".

"I've spoken to the South Australian Premier and he said that he wants to grow the state of South Australia by 20,000 people every year and he'll have the work there to do it, so the work is there", he said.

Tudge told 7 Sunrise on October 9: "Our overall objective is to get a better distribution of the population growth across the country".

Australia's central bank governor said in August an influx of new residents had helped to underpin strong economic growth.

Congestion and infrastructure strain in these cities cost the Australian economy Aus$15 billion (US$10.6 billion) previous year, with annual forecast losses of Aus$40 billion by 2030 if left unchecked, according to government estimates.

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