Ballarat could soon see its population rise under a new federal government plan for decongestion in major cities.
Population and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said this decentralisation is necessary, as growth in cities like Melbourne and Sydney had exceeded projections by 100 per cent in the past decade.
“The key issue here is the distribution of the growth rather than the growth number,” he said on ABC Breakfast on Tuesday morning.
“If we had a better distribution of the growth, we wouldn't have quite the same pressure that we have on Melbourne and Sydney and south-east Queensland.”
Mr Tudge said certain regional areas were “crying out for more workers”, which this plan would deliver.
Gorton member Brendan O'Connor has hit out at the proposal, saying there needed to be an independent panel to investigate labour shortages in these regional and rural areas to assess the impact of temporary foreign workers on Australian job hunters.
“Clearly, the idea that you just move people around out of capital cities – particularly when there are not job opportunities in those regions – is not a sufficient plan to ease congestion in our cities,” he said.
“We need a much more considered approach to easing infrastructure pressures.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has lent his voice to the debate, saying he is “not about telling people where they should live.”
Sixty per cent of Australia’s population growth comes from migrants, with almost 90 per cent of skilled migrant workers gravitating to Sydney and Melbourne.
City of Ballarat’s director of community development Neville Ivey has endorsed the plans, saying “this is just one of a number of initiatives which has been developed to ensure cultural diversity is used as an advantage to assure community harmony, a sense of belong and a place for all.”
“Ballarat as a whole welcomes and embraces the idea of our city as a progressive settlement destination and we have not shied away from our intentions to be a leading regional settlement destination,” he said.
Mr Ivey also pointed towards an influx of both skilled and unskilled workers as a large positive to fill job voids.
Under Mr Tudge’s proposal, some migrants may be forced to live outside of major metropolitan cities like Melbourne for up to five years.
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