Australia to restrict migrants outside Sydney, Melbourne

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

In a major speech later today, Cities and Population Minister, Alan Tudge, will reveal congestion cost $25 billion in 2017-18, and will rise to $40 billion a year by 2030.

Emigrants who want to settle in Australia may soon be turned away, as major cities, Sydney and Melbourne are experiencing rapid population growth.

The government may introduce visa conditions to limit where some migrants live for up to five years, Tudge said.

Population and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge outlined the government's four-point plan in a speech delivered at the Menzies Research Centre in Melbourne on October 9.

The government hasn't yet decided where the migrants might be sent, or what conditions might be placed on them.

"Matching the skills of new migrants with the skill shortages in rural and regional Australia will be key to the success of this approach", Tudge said. Migrants will gravitate to opportunities & amenities in cities.

Mr Tudge will say travel in peak times in Sydney takes 65 percent longer than off-peak, and 55 percent, in Melbourne.

The growth has been largely migration-driven, with most people settling in Melbourne, Sydney and south-east Queensland, according to the government.

"It's certainly unsustainable to continue with the current model with the bulk of immigrants going to Sydney and Melbourne because it's creating significant pressure", said Tony Matthews, researcher at the Cities Research Institute.

"I'm not sure its legally viable", the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

Around 2 in every 5 Australians live in Sydney and Melbourne alone.

Immigration has always been a hot-button issue in Australia but has taken on a new prominence as the country heads towards national elections due before next May.

"Any policy that spreads migration will resonate".

"People are voting with their feet, they want to be in cities and so I think the job for government is to ensure that cities work and that people can get around rather than to try to get people to go where they don't want to go", Ms. Terrill said.

There are also questions about the business impact in big cities, where job creation is outstripped migration, said James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Business and Industry.

He said there needed to be "controlled population growth" and flagged future announcements on high-speed train lines "early next year".

"This (congestion) is a serious challenge for families and a serious economic challenge for the nation", he said.

"We've had 27 years without a recession".

Congestion and infrastructure strain in these cities cost the Australian economy Aus$15 billion (US$10.6 billion) a year ago, with annual forecast losses of Aus$40 billion by 2030 if left unchecked, according to government estimates.