Subjects: Population growth; conversational English; regional migration; migrant integration
At around nine o'clock Perth time this evening, Australia's population is set to tick over 25 million. Now, not so long ago, in fact it was 1997, that number was predicted to be reached in 2051, but it's happening tonight at 9 o'clock.
Let's bring in the Citizenship Minister, Alan Tudge. Minister, good afternoon.
G'day Olly, how's it going over there?
It's going very well in Perth, we're obviously two hours behind. We're hoping that the 25 million or 25th million or 25 millionth - however you say it, Alan Tudge - is going to be a West Australian.
Well, who knows? It's really just a statistical number anyway. But, no doubt someone will claim to be the 25th million person born and whether that person is in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth, who knows?
Alright. This prediction was made back in 1997, that in 2051 the number would reach 25 million. That's not that long ago. But it's only 2018, so what's happened?
I think a combination of things, one being that we've had probably faster than expected natural growth and secondly, we've had faster than expected immigration growth and the combination of those two things means that overall our population growth is higher than it was forecast.
Alright. Did I see a statistic today where last year we can say Australia's population grew by 388,000, that by births and obviously migrants moving to Australia. But of which, 61 per cent of those were migrants.
Just over half the population growth in recent years has been due to migration growth and the thing which I've been talking about today in relation to this is that yes, there are some cities which are feeling population pressure.
Absolutely, in relation to Melbourne and Sydney, and I know that sometimes Perth feels that pressure as well.
The problem overall, though, is the distribution of our migration intake. Pretty much everybody has been going to Melbourne and Sydney and to some extent to Perth, but less so.
Whereas we've got other areas of the country who are screaming out for people and we haven't got as many migrants going there.
In South Australia for example, the South Australian Premier is saying to me that they want probably 10 to 15,000 more people per annum versus in Melbourne and Sydney, where we're really feeling the pressures from fast population growth.
We are trying to work on how we can get a better distribution of migration across the country rather than all being geographically located in a couple of big cities.
Sure, so how do you do that? What incentives can you provide to migrants to say: hey, don't relocate to Sydney or Melbourne, come and live in South Australia. Or hey, head over to WA, maybe to Perth or into some of the regional parts of Western Australia?
We are taking a good close look at this and there are some things that we can do, and that might be to provide incentives in the first instance for people to choose those regional areas or smaller states.
We could then put conditions upon their visas in order to keep them there for at least a few years.
If they're located there for a few years, the chances are they'll put their roots down, their kids will be going to school and they'll make it their home, rather than making it a transitory stop and then reverting back to, say, Melbourne or Sydney.
We have got some levers up our disposal and we're working with people like the Premier of South Australia to see what we can do there as well as regional leaders around the country.
Might there be a tax concession for example, if you said to somebody: go and move to Port Hedland or Karratha and you won't have to pay, I don't know, some form of income tax or something similar?
Yeah. That's not really something which we're looking at the moment, Olly.
But certainly up in that area they're crying out for people again because the mining boom seems to have taken off and they're needing more people and at the same time, here in Melbourne where I am, we've had very significant population growth here.
It's the fastest growing city in the country, despite it being the second biggest.
If we can take a bit of pressure off here and maybe encourage people to go up to Karratha or even to Perth and certainly to South Australia, then we'll be assisting those regions as well as taking a bit of pressure off Melbourne and Sydney.
Alright well, interesting, Alan Tudge. I'm sure that some of our listeners might have some views and some opinions and they might have some incentives as well. We'll throw open the phone lines. Thank you very much for joining me on Perth Live.
Good on you, thanks Olly.
There you go: Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge.