Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB Mornings

Ray Hadley:
In the meantime, the federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, is on the line. Minister Tudge, g’day.

Alan Tudge: G’day, Ray.

Ray Hadley: I know we're talking about the Prime Minister's address last night in Sydney. Now, I've got to tell you that I’ve said it's a political statement that he needs to carry a bit further, and the reason I wanted- I was happy to talk to you today – why are we waiting for the states and the territories on 12 December to say: yes, we need to put a pause button on immigration?

Even the Prime Minister having refused to acknowledge it previously as Treasurer, now acknowledges that we're bursting at the seams, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

Alan Tudge: Yeah. And I think he hit the nail on the head there where we're bursting at the seams in Melbourne and Sydney, but in other places they actually want more people. So the South Australian Premier will be saying: can we have more police?
Same with the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, WA, Tasmania, et cetera. And that's one of the real challenges we've got at the moment. Nearly all the migration growth is going into Sydney and Melbourne. They're growing very fast. They’re bursting at the seams.

You know the traffic congestion which Sydney siders face and we're saying: let's listen to what the state governments have got to say; what's their carrying capacity from a population growth perspective; and then we'll try to meet that population forecast rather than us just setting a top down level.

Ray Hadley: Well, I'm not talking about going from 190 to no, one even an arbitrary decision to stop it by 30, 40 or 50,000 now, that means South Australia and Northern Territory can still get them.

But once you say that, how- we don't have internal passports, Minister; how do you direct people coming here- oh, by the way, if you're come here or you're going to South Australia or you're going to the Northern Territory. I know back in the 50s and 60s we said: well, you’re going to live in Bathurst; you’re going to live in the Snowy Mountains; you’re going to live here; but people don't put up with that anymore. How do we direct the people to where we want them to go?

Alan Tudge: Yeah. To the contrary, actually, we already do have some programs, admittedly at a small level, where we require people to go to some of the smaller states or regional areas; and that's the 489 visa.

Now, they get an incentive to go to those areas and they have to stay there for a couple of years and that works; and so we can absolutely boost up those style of programs where we create incentives for people to go to the smaller cities or to the regional areas where they need people and then place some conditions upon their visas to say: well, if you take that incentive, then we require you to stay there for a few years.

In that time, hopefully, you've laid down roots; your kids are going to school, you've joined the local footy club and you make that place your home.

Ray Hadley: Yeah. Yeah, but what's the timeframe? You've got an election coming up next year and this could be an election-winning decision by you. I know we're not supposed to be political and not supposed to work on election cycles, but many Australians in recent polls, whether they’re people who might vote for you or vote elsewhere, are saying: yes, we need to put the pause button on.

Alan Tudge: Yeah. [Indistinct]-

Ray Hadley: …So- if the- you go to the meeting 12 December and then you- we have a Christmas break and no one does anything until you know 15 February and then we have an election almost upon us, so what's the timeframe?

Alan Tudge: And so you have some very clear ideas as to about where exactly we're going by early next year, Ray. So the process from here is the Prime Minister's going to formally write out to the states and territories. There will be that- the meeting, the COAG meeting of the Prime Minister and the leaders in December, and then we'll be finalising this in the early parts of next year.

Now, overall, we expect that the results of this new process will see a drop in the migration intake. We’ve already dropped it by the way, from 190 down to 162,000; and we'll see what the result is from that process.

It might end up, though, that in South Australia, there’s actually more people going to that area – same with the Northern Territory; they absolutely want more people up there and other parts of the country too, including even in parts of New South Wales such as Dubbo, which are struggling to find workers at the moment.

Ray Hadley: Alright then. Appreciate your time. Let’s see what happens on 12 December. Thank you very much, Minister.

Alan Tudge: Thanks very much, Ray.

Ray Hadley: Alan Tudge, Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure, Population. As I said, states don't make immigration policy, federal governments do, and they should be doing it without blaming the states at the moment.

Don't tell me that if we just reduce it down from the figure that it was –190, its down closer to 160 now – get it back to 130, 140 and just say the special visas are, you either go to the Northern Territory, South Australia, or regional parts where there are jobs. And I look at the unemployment rate in Dubbo before I started sending people to Dubbo or anywhere else in regional Australia.