Dutton slams migrant plan: 'All hype'
UPDATE: HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has attacked a Palaszczuk Government plan to move thousands of migrants to three Queensland regions eager for skilled labourers.
As reported by The Courier-Mail, under the strategy being coordinated between the State Government and local councils, Rockhampton, southwest Queensland and the central highlands would receive specialist skilled migrants as well as refugees to relieve demand for workers in local industry.
In a morning press blitz on Monday, Mr Dutton said the plan lacked detail and did not stack up.
"I think there is a lot of hype in this when you look at the detail the State Government is providing.
"There is nothing substantive I can see."
Mr Dutton's stance is at odds with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's recent comments that Rockhampton could absorb another 10,000 migrants.
The Home Affairs Minister went on to say that the southeast corner was struggling to hold more migrants because of a bloated public sector and a lack of investment in infrastructure.
He said Queensland Labor had a vested interest in keeping unions happy by expanding the public sector, which diverted funds away from new tunnels and upgrading the M1.
"The biggest problem in Queensland is not people coming to live here, it's the fact that the Labor government spends no money on infrastructure," Mr Dutton said.
EARLIER: THOUSANDS of migrants would head to three Queensland regions under a plan being devised by the State Government and regional councils.
Rockhampton, southwest Queensland and the central highlands have been singled out as regions where there is demand for more migrants.
The plan will be put to a summit of federal and state treasurers in February and will increase pressure on the Morrison government to stump up funding for extra services.
Remote towns of Paroo, Bulloo and Balonne in the southwest of the state and Emerald and Biloela in the centre are included in the migrant blueprint.
Targeted migrants will include specialist skilled workers such as engineers, as well as refugees who come from remote areas and can work on farms.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed calls for more migrants to be sent to Rockhampton and recently said that the city could accommodate another 10,000 people.
But the Federal Government has not yet committed to extra funding for housing, health and education services.
The plan would involve a dramatic shift for refugee resettlements in Queensland, which are currently concentrated in Brisbane, Logan and Toowoomba.
The Queensland Government has commissioned a group called Welcoming Cities, based at Monash University in Victoria, to research how best to integrate new migrants into these regions.
Queensland Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the councils involved had expressed interest in attracting more migrants.
"Regional communities are crying out for skilled migrants. The skills that migrants and refugees possess, particularly in agriculture, are in demand," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"Some of these communities have seen population decline. This is one way in which they could address that." While he conceded it could be a challenge to provide services in remote areas, Mr Hinchliffe said these regions could better suit the backgrounds of migrants with farming experience.