Subjects: Regional migration
New migrants will be forced to remain in regional areas under the terms of their visas. The idea is to stop them moving back to the big cities once permanent residency is approved.
Many migrants are sponsored for permanent residence on the basis of an intent to live and work in regional Australia, but don't stay long in the region once they have their permanent visa, is what Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge has told News Corporation, and the Minister joins us on the phone right now.
Thank you very much for your time.
As a person who grew up in a country town with an area that was largely built on the backs of the hard works of post-World War Two European migrants, I have to say this idea kind of makes sense.
I think it does. As you probably know, Chris, there are a lot of businesses in regional Western Australia and across the country who sponsor people into the country as permanent residents to work in their business in the regions.
But what sometimes happens is once the person is there, they have got their permanent residency, after a few months they quit that job and move into the big cities, and that is not good for that region, it is not good for that business, but nor is it good for the big cities, which are already a little bit congested and we want to move people out to those regions
And I guess one of the other problems is that, once they leave the regional area, that they will be able to find work in big cities.
And one of the great concerns, whether it is fair or not I guess is another question and also another debate, but many people are concerned that once immigrants, particularly those from non-English speaking backgrounds move into big cities, they tend to move into ghettos, associate with people who speak their language and don't integrate in society and that has always been an issue for many people.
I think that sometimes occurs. I mean, in relation to employment, by and large, migrants who come to the country do get employed at about the same rate as the Australian-born population.
We have been very successful on that count. I have got some concerns that we are not integrating people quite as well as we used to in the past, and I have put some proposals on the table to try to assist with that process because ultimately, the success of Australia has been built on immigration.
But it has been built on the principle that when people come here they integrate into the broader community. We need to make sure that that continues.
The particular issue that we started the conversation about though, Chris, was in relation to regional areas, and I know that throughout a lot of Western Australia, regional Western Australia, there are places which are really suffering from skills shortages and it’s hard to get people.
And that is why we want to see that when people are sponsored into those regions as permanent residents that they do stay in those regions for at least two or three years so that they hopefully put down roots, their kids go to the local school, they belong to their community and maybe make a life of it there.
And the other thing is, I think in many cases, especially for people coming to the country as did the post-World War Two European immigrants, if they stay there long enough, they are going to find that's their natural home anyway.
There are plenty of post-World War Two immigrants, or the descendants thereof, who still remain in a lot of the country centres in which they settled.
No, that is exactly right. I think that is exactly right. But it often does take two or three years to really get to know the community, for your kids to feel really at home in their local school, and to meet lots of friends; to maybe join the local footy club or the local netball club.
And generally I think Aussies are very welcoming of people from around the world, and particularly if the people when they get there they want to give things a go.
And as I travel around Australia, I go to regional towns where you do have flourishing migrant communities there who have made those communities their home, and are really making a terrific contribution.
And we want to ensure, though, that when people do come here they do get sponsored into the region that they do make the effort to stay there for at least those two or three years. Hopefully they then put the roots down and hopefully make a real life of it there.
You made a very interesting point when you talked about, for example, getting involved in the local footy club or getting involved in netball, if there is something or some way that people get involved in the community - and let's face it, in a lot of regional centres, sport is a really good way to do that.
If they do that, then they are going to feel like they are at home. I think the only time we run into problems is if we have groups of people who don't really integrate into the regional centres in which they settle.
If they don't, there is a problem. If they do, then they are very likely to call the place home.
I think that's exactly right. I mean, I always encourage people to, obviously, to get work because being employed is a great way to integrate with other people as well because, you know, you have a group of workmates that you get to know.
And the second thing, though, is join a local community group, and particularly a sporting group because once you're playing footy together, or netball together, or soccer or whatever your sport is, again, you get to know a whole group of people, you are all playing together on the same team.
Inevitably, someone invites you around to the barbecue on the weekend as well, and then you are away. I think sport has been such a terrific activity for welcoming people and integrating people in the broader community. I certainly encourage people to do that when they arrive in this country.
And as someone who grew up in the country, I think the one thing that people who have always lived in the city often forget is it is much easier to connect with people, even people with whom you would normally not associate especially in a city-like environment in the country.
Service clubs for example, if people need assistance or if they need some sort of help, they are the kind of people who are going to be really in tune with that.
If people are having issues in a regional centre, the chances are the local community are going to become a lot more aware of that a lot more rapidly.
And despite the fact that sometimes people have this, in inverted commas, busybody reputation, often what they do is help those people out.
I think that is exactly right Chris. I mean, I grew up in on the outskirts of Melbourne and when I was growing up it was a country town, it is now almost a suburb of Melbourne, and I was exactly like that.
You did tend to know a lot of people in that country town and if someone was in trouble, everyone did chip in and help that person out. I think that is one of the great things about
regional towns and regional centres, still that very strong community spirit where people do help each other out.
And so, when new arrivals go there as well, they can hopefully join into that community spirit, take advantage of it and contribute to it in their own unique way.
Listen, thank you very much for your time. I know you are pressed for time, but we do appreciate you making some time available to us this evening.
No worries at all, Chris. Thanks very much for having me.
And that is citizenship Minister Alan Tudge.