Migrants could be turned away from coasts
OVERSEAS migrants are set to face new limits on moving to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast under Federal Government plans to better manage surging population growth.
The two regional centres are also set to be targeted for infrastructure spending and urban planning in a bid to better match facilities to the needs of the population.
Most debate about population planning has so far focused on options to turn migrants away from Sydney and Melbourne.
But ministers tasked with drawing up the plans are concerned about the burgeoning size of some regional cities, including in southeast Queensland and Geelong in Victoria.
Cities Minister Alan Tudge said the concentration of migrants in urban areas was adding to congestion problems in large cities but warned there were also growing pains in smaller cities.
"The Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast are two of the fastest growing areas of Australia at the moment after Geelong and Melbourne," he said.
"Yet we've got other parts of Australia in regional areas and some of the smaller states who are crying out or more people.
"That creates challenges in particular because we don't have an even distribution of growth."
Under a proposal that was discussed while Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister, some migrants could be forced to move to regional areas for up to five years as a condition of their visa.
The regional restrictions could apply to skilled migrants and also some coming to Australia with family members.
A large part of the growth in southeast Queensland is driven by interstate migrants who are looking for a better lifestyle, cheaper cost of living and work opportunities.
Mayors from the region have been lobbying the federal government to create a "city deal" that would set out two decades of population planning covering an area around Brisbane from Toowoomba and Ipswich to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
But Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he did not want to turn migrants away.
"Twenty-seven per cent of our population is born overseas so the attraction of living here is obviously extremely appealing," Mr Tate said.
"My view is, we welcome everyone. That's the Aussie way of life."
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said a planned international airport, new hospital and improved internet speeds were likely to make the region more attractive to migrants.
He too opposed limits on migrants but said there needed to be better co-ordinated planning of population growth as well as funding for light rail and faster rail links to Brisbane.