'Jobs come first': Hinkler MP on regional migration plan
HINKLER MP Keith Pitt has spoken in support of people making a move away from big cities to regional areas, but says improving job rates must come first.
The Australian on Wednesday reported a potential change to a government migration plan would see new immigrants settled in regional areas for up to five years.
Mr Pitt has previously opposed a push to bring more migrants to Bundy.
In speaking with the NewsMail on Tuesday, Mr Pitt stood by his original position but said people living in big cities should consider making a move to a regional area - unless it was to an area of high unemployment, like Bundaberg. "I support regional migration where it's supported by the community, but I don't support it to areas of high regional unemployment," Mr Pitt said.
The most recent unemployment data for the Wide Bay region showed it was at 11.4 per cent, after a drop from 12.9 per cent in June.
"There are factors to consider such as if an area can cope with an increase in population, as well as what support would be available for new migrants," Mr Pitt said.
"I will always support getting people out of the cities and into the regions. I believe we should be identifying and developing our next major city locations and using policy levers to shift people to those areas, but in order to do that, they need jobs to go to."
Mayor Jack Dempsey said he believed the Bundaberg region would welcome initiatives to resettle immigrants in regional areas.
"This region has thrived on its multicultural roots and in the Bundaberg region we have a community that is welcoming of its new residents," Cr Dempsey said.
"Any initiative of this nature proposed by the Federal Government would need to be supported with programs and infrastructure that ensure the region could cope with this additional responsibility.
"This includes the area of unemployment where our region has historically elevated figures." He said skilled immigratns were an option.