Cost benefit analysis needed for rural migration says researcher | ABC News
Originally published http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-07/rural-migration-under-the-microscope/6599144
Encouraging migrants to move to rural areas is often touted as the solution to a tight labour market and the aging population.
But is there a concrete understanding of the benefits and costs of migration in regional areas?
In a submission to the Productivity Commission, the Regional Australia Institute has highlighted the gap in research.
Jack Archer, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute, said there needed to be a cost benefit analysis that was relevant to regional areas.
“We’d really like the Productivity Commission to clarify the costs and benefits of migration, because that’s going to be a good foundation for getting migration in rural areas right,” he said.
“We understand that the benefits of a migrant differ in different places and that is missing at the moment, so this is a really good opportunity within this productivity commission inquiry to get that sorted out.
“The evidence is really clear that international migration is an important part of regional economies and building regional populations.
“Between 2009 and 2014, we had about 100,000 skilled workers join regional Australia as a whole and 230,000 migrants in total have joined regional Australia.
“Forty per cent of those migrants are aged between 20-34, so it’s a really important part of the mix in growing and building thriving populations in regional Australia.”
Mr Archer was concerned that the Federal Government had asked the inquiry to look at charging migrants a fee in order to change make up of the migration intake.
“I think we need to be careful about charging migrants to come. We’re changing the way in which that works then into more of a transaction and I think we need to be careful in thinking about that,” he said.
While it may help the government bottom line in the short term, Mr Archer said it overlooked the long-term benefit migration offered regional areas.
“The primary benefit and the way we really benefit is by getting people to join our communities who are really committed to being here and really proud to be here and want to make a big contribution,” he said.
Highlighting the different needs of each regional area should be the focus of the inquiry, Mr Archer argued.
“Understanding regional skills needs and prioritising regional migration is a really important area where I think we can improve migration,” he said.
“We have really tight labour markets in lots of those rural areas, and so one of the things we’ve seen is that migration is really helping people in western New South Wales to stabilise the labour market and fill the jobs that need to be filled.
“The situation is quite different in south east NSW and places along the coast where often we do have significant unemployment, so what we really need to do in those areas is really target migration to those areas and focus on areas where migration can help to develop new jobs.
“A great example of where that works is the fact we have trouble getting very high quality chefs into regional tourism destinations.
“An example is Rick Stein’s Bannisters on the south coast that is led by a chef who worked with Rick in England.
“No doubt he is teaching a lot of local chefs in a top quality situation. That is also an attractor to the region and helps build the region as a whole.”