NSW takes in the bulk of Australia's overseas immigrants, but the state's premier wants to dramatically slash those numbers.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to slash the state’s overseas migration intake to John Howard-era levels, as part of a “new dawn” on population policy.
Citing a growing population, Ms Berejiklian has called for a dramatic cut in the number of immigrants settling in NSW.
“It’s time to tap the brakes and take a breather on immigration levels to this state. We should return to Howard-era immigration levels in NSW,” the premier, who is the daughter of Armenian migrants, told The Daily Telegraph.
“My government has been playing catch-ups building the schools, hospitals, roads and transport links our state needs to deal with our growing population… (it’s) becoming increasingly clear that the current growing rate of immigration to our state needs to be addressed. This is an opportunity for a new dawn on this important issue.”
A spokesperson for Ms Berejiklian said the government had not determined the exact number it was keen to cut migration by.
When Liberal prime minister John Howard was in power, NSW was taking in about a net 45,000 people a year, compared to around 100,000 today.
NSW and Victoria accounts for 75.6 per cent of all national net overseas migration, with NSW reaching a record high in late 2017 when 98,570 overseas migrants settled in the state.
Home Affairs modelling estimates NSW will continue to be the number one destination for overseas migrants, with 70,500 projected to settle in the Greater Sydney area by the end of 2018.
Ms Berejiklian’s comments come after Federal Population Minister Alan Tudge promised visa reforms that would force a significant chunk of Australia’s annual intake of 190,000 permanent migrants to spend “at least a few years” in regional Australia before being eligible to move to Sydney or Melbourne.
Existing regional visas only divert around 5,000 of the annual permanent intake, which is capped at 190,000 places.
The new scheme would be much more ambitious and could force nearly half of the migration stream to settle in regional areas and the smaller states.