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Australia borrows Canadian model to tackle population, congestion in major cities

CANBERRA, Australia: The Australian government is all set to emulate Canada’s immigration model to manage population as well as congestion in major cities.

Population Minister Alan Tudge said he wants to give greater role to provinces to attract more migrants to settle beyond Australia’s big cities.

“While there is no requirement for new immigrants to stay in the province that has nominated them, the evidence is that the vast majority stay in that province,” he told a Sydney summit on Monday.

Canadian model empowers provinces to nominate desired migration levels.

Before Canada changed its policy in the early 1990s, only 10% of economic migrants settled beyond the country’s major cities, now the figure has since risen to 34%.

In Australia, 14% of the 1.4 million migrants who moved to the country between 2011 and 2016 settled outside big cities.

“Canada provides an interesting case study in how migration policy can achieve a better distribution of population growth,” he said.

“This program is one example of a bottom-up approach to migration,” he added.

According to the minister, Canada’s success is based upon offering migrants a strong welcome and support programs, a community network and help in finding work.

Migration experts remind of past failures wherein those made to settle in regional areas later moved to metropolitans after the designated deadline.

A new permanent visa pathway which is coming into effect in November will allow skilled migrants to work in regional areas for at least three years.

The annual cap on permanent migrants has been reduced from 190,000 to 160,000 by the government while increasing incentives for skilled workers and international students.

“European countries like Germany and France have used fast rail to connect big capital cities to regional centres,” the minister responded.

He suggested people could live in the suburbs or region and catch a train to big cities for work every day.

Federal government has plans to connect most of the satellite cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane within 20 years.