Premier’s crack team to ‘solve’ migration issue
GLADYS Berejiklian has ordered a team of experts to formulate plans to slash migration to NSW as she warns the state's immigrant influx is putting too much pressure on Sydney infrastructure.
John Howard's one time most senior public servant Peter Shergold is on the team, which has two months to advise the Premier on a new "population policy" for the state.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that the current high rates of population growth are putting even more pressure on our infrastructure. NSW's economic success is attracting a far greater share of total immigrant numbers than it has in the past," Ms Berejiklian said.
It comes just weeks after The Daily Telegraph revealed Ms Berejikllian wanted to slash migration by up to half and specifically flagged a desire to return to Howard era immigration rates to ease the squeeze on Sydney.
The panel is made up of Mr Shergold who is now University of Western Sydney chancellor, alongside Infrastructure NSW CEO Jim Betts and Department of Planning secretary Carolyn McNally.
The government wants to harness immigration as a key election issue, deeply conscious of the rising anger among voters fed up with congestion.
Labor has also signalled it wants to take on the issue, with Labor leader Luke Foley backing calls to halve the migrant intake.
The Premier's panel will consider the current rate of population growth and the infrastructure pipeline and how long the state needs for infrastructure to catch up with population growth rates.
It will recommend steps for "more detailed work on the issue of population".
Ms Berejiklian has strongly pushed for NSW to have a key role in policy population at a federal level.
Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly said that as a daughter of migrants she wants the state to be open to immigration. However, she believes the state needs a breather.
The Howard era immigration rates Ms Berejiklian speaks of are approximately 45,000 people a year.
Since then, the average net overseas migration rate to NSW has lifted to about 73,000 a year on average and almost 100,000 in the past two years.
"We are in the midst of an unprecedented infrastructure boom in NSW with more than $87 billion being invested in new roads, transport, schools and hospitals over the next four years," Ms Berejiklian said.
"But it is clear that despite that record infrastructure pipeline, Sydney and NSW are still playing catch up.
"This review will allow NSW to take a strategic approach to planning around population."