Australia has introduced 15% cuts on its annual immigrant cap that will shrink the max number of applications by 30,000 to 160,000, in a bid to tackle urban congestion, which remains a point of irritation for people in big cities. Apart from that, the move creates off-limits areas for new migrants who want to move to Australia under a new skilled-visa.
They will not be allowed to settle in the country’s biggest cities, namely Melbourne, Perth, Sydney or the Gold Coast with over-utilised infrastructure, according to immigration minister David Coleman, and will be eligible for permanent residency after living three years outside a large city. To apply for permanent residency immigrants will have to confirm their residential and work addresses. According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the limitations would include places for up to 23,000 people.
"This is a practical problem that Australians wanted addressed”, Morrison said introducing the new measure, designed to ease congestion in Australian cities.
According to recent polls, most of the residents (63 per cent) in the country’s biggest city Sydney supported the cuts while many believe that population growth has resulted in growing house prices and congestion, The Straits Times reports. According to the outlet, the move, which, however, does not target arrivals coming in under temporary student visas, is also seen as a possibility to ease skilled workforce shortages outside major cities.
“While Australians in our major cities are frustrated by congestion, those in our regions have told us they need more people, skills, jobs and investment”, chief executive of the Australian Business Council Jennifer Westacott said, as cited by the media.
The cuts were introduced in the wake of the Christchurch rampage in neighbouring New Zealand as Australia is reeling from the aftermath of the deadly shooting that took the lives of at least 50 people, and is re-evaluating its stance on migrants.
"My great frustration is that, in addressing these issues of population and immigration programmes, these debates often get hijacked by those of competing views who seek to exploit them for other causes”, the country’s prime minister stated.
On 15 March two mosques were attacked with the perpetrator, Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, live-streaming the massacre. Following the tragic incident, Tarrant was charged with murder and ordered to remain in custody until 5 April. Shortly before going on the shooting spree, Tarrant reportedly published a 73-page “manifesto”, in which he laid out his beliefs and described himself as a “fascist”, who wanted to “take revenge” for Europeans lost to terror attacks.