A plan to overhaul how Australia’s immigration levels are set is being discussed at senior levels of government. Picture: AAP
A plan to overhaul how Australia’s immigration levels are set is being discussed at senior levels of government. Picture: AAP

PM’s new plan to overhaul migrant intake

STATES and territories would be forced to prove they have the sufficient infrastructure to handle their annual migrant intake under a plan being canvassed by the Morrison Government to overhaul Australia's immigration levels.

The Australian reports the policy, which has been discussed at senior levels of the Morrison Government, would require states and territories to name the number of skilled migrants they need each year and give proof they had sufficient infrastructure, shifting the onus for determining migration levels onto the states.

It comes amid fierce debate within government ranks about whether Australia's annual immigration cap should be cut from 190,000, with conservatives led by Tony Abbott calling for a drastic cut to the level of immigration as Australia's capital cities struggle with congestion and housing costs.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian last month also called for immigration to her state to be halved over concerns it could not keep up with infrastructure demands.

States would be required to give proof they had begun work on key infrastructure such as housing, schools and hospitals before their migration requests were approved under the federal government plan, The Australian reports.

It's understood the proposal is still being developed.

But cabinet will reportedly discuss tonight the establishment of a population taskforce to tackle other population policies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the idea to give states a greater say on immigration last month. Picture: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the idea to give states a greater say on immigration last month. Picture: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the "ground-up" ­population policy last month, telling 2GB: "Instead of doing a top-down approach, what I'm doing with the states and territories now is saying, 'you tell me how many people you can accommodate in your state and around your state', and our immigration numbers will be based on how many people those states can support with the infrastructure and services they can provide."

As Treasurer, Mr Morrison argued strongly earlier this year for the immigration rate to remain at current levels, noting that any cuts in migration numbers would cost the federal budget billions in lost tax revenue over future years.

He likened it to "cutting off your nose to spite your face".

Population and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge earlier this year signalled the government was working on a plan to force migrants to live outside of major cities for a number of years as part of a wider plan to reduce the pressure on the country's capitals.