Opposition Leader Steven Marshall will lobby Prime Minister Tony Abbott to give migrants additional incentives to settle in South Australia to boost the state’s population growth.
Marshall announced the policy at an Urban Development Institute of SA lunch at the InterContinental in Adelaide on Friday.
South Australia enjoys special low population growth migration status, making it easier for migrants to gain visas. Parts of Western Australia – but not Perth – also get the benefit, which Marshall said diluted any advantage to SA.
“Certainly I will be sitting down with my Coalition federal counterparts as early as I can to talk and to lobby them about preferential immigration status for us here in South Australia,” he said.
“Yes, some people could say we’ve got that at the moment … and so does Western Australia, which sort of nullifies any advantage that we’ve got.
“The regional status that we’ve got, the advantage that we had for quite a considerable amount of time where we were making up some ground, or at least diminishing our flows out of the state, was really before WA got its own regional immigration status.
“So that’s not the advantage that it was.”
The actual value of the preferential migration program was called into question in a state parliamentary committee report earlier this year.
The committee heard anecdotal evidence that around two-thirds of skilled migrants arriving in South Australia moved interstate within two years of arriving.
InDaily has contacted the Western Australian Government for comment.
Marshall took the opportunity to attempt to clarify the differences between the Labor government and his Opposition.
“You can continue with the Labor government which believes that we need to have a government-spending-led recovery,” he said.
“The alternative is the Liberal policy, which says that it’s not the government’s role to pump-prime the economy, it’s the government’s role to create the most conducive business environment to allow all of you to get on with what you do best – to go out, grow your companies, employ South Australians.
“It will be a very distinct and clear alternative – a government-led recovery or a business-led recovery.”
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