Immigrants and refugees who agree to settle in regional Queensland could jump the queue to come to Australia under a proposal flagged by the premier.
Campbell Newman has spoken to federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison about plans to fast-track applications in return for driving growth outside the state’s crowded southeast corner.
The governments would work with councils to influence where immigrants and refugees go.
“It could be (that) … if you want to come to Australia, you might be on a certain waiting list … maybe you could get bumped up the queue if you go and spend at least five years in a regional city in Queensland, a regional town,” Mr Newman told Fairfax radio.
Queensland’s migration intake could also be increased under the plan.
The premier has promised to focus on infrastructure projects in the regions to help support his growth plans.
About 100,000 overseas migrants move to Queensland each year.
Currently about 65 per cent of Queensland’s population lives in the southeast, taking in Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
But the Newman government is aiming to have half the state’s population living outside the southeast by 2043.
With Queensland’s population expected to almost double to about eight million in the next 30 years, Mr Newman says it’s a no brainer to look to the regions to accommodate that growth.
The idea was first flagged in last year’s Queensland Plan summits.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli says the government wants to improve regional Queensland’s economic potential.
“We want regional Queensland to be the powerhouse of this state’s economy. We want people to live in those communities, be part of those communities, and create the job and economic development opportunities that go with that,” he told ABC Radio.
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