Unless you just woke up, it was hard to miss the media frenzy this morning regarding the number of new migrants choosing to settle in Sydney or Melbourne. I choose the word frenzy, for the picture here from The Australian says it all.

Doesn’t this poor commuter look stressed due the fact that she can’t get a seat? I mean it’s not exactly wall to wall people in there is it? Most of us who use trains in peak hour would consider the scene in this picture to be a lucky day. Considering the number of people who join the squash into Sydney trains in the last 20 years, it seems to me that relief is more likely to come if they can run on time rather than a decrease in migration numbers.

Isn’t the government is really trying to get the rest of the country populated to justify the huge expense of the NBN roll-out? You know that expense in technology which will soon be obsolete.

So can the government do it? Force new migrants into regional Australia?

The emphasis here first must be on the word “new”. It is impossible for current permanent residents or those who have already lodged their permanent residency, to be forced into the outback for 5 years. So most of you reading this can relax now.

Those people who have worked in the migration industry for more than 20 years like I have will know that this approach has been tried before and failed. You just can’t force permanent residents to live in particular areas of Australia because they have rights, one being, freedom of movement.

Now temporary residents? Well that is a different story and one example is already working well, the 489 Regional sponsored visa. No need to develop a new class of visa, the 489 visa has been proving popular, just give the regional areas permission to grant more of them.

Now if the department wants to increase the residency from the current 2 years in a regional area before applicants can apply for PR, to a longer requirement, well they can, but it would take a new version of the 489 and new version of the 887 visa sub-classes to make it work.

However it will only work if ALL the regional areas work together. Right now only Tasmania offers the best deal to attract applicants and even the locals there may start complaining too if they can’t get onto their public transport in peak hour.

BTW do they have trains in Tasmainia? Someone please let me know.