In December 2018, COAG agreed that the Commonwealth, state and territory Treasurers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association would consider a framework for national population and planning to address population management in Australia, for consideration at a future COAG meeting. In addition to participating in the Treasurers Forum ALGA is also participating in a number of working groups being led by The Treasury to look at attracting growth to the regions. The Federal Budget Population Package committed to a range of transport projects to ease congestion and link to regional centres, as well as including these two initiatives:
- $23.4 million from 2019 20 to establish a Centre for Population to inform and coordinate the development of population policy across Government; and
- $93.7 million from 2019 20 (and $23.7 million per year ongoing) to establish the Destination Australia Program to support domestic and international students to study in regional Australia by providing scholarships towards a higher education or vocational education and training (VET) qualification.
These initiatives build on the Government’s decision to reduce the migration cap to ease the pressure on capital cities and measures to better match migration and infrastructure with regional and local needs. The funding in this measure is in addition to the Government’s $100 billion investment in road, rail and air infrastructure across Australia, including an additional $3.0 billion for the Urban Congestion Fund to remediate congestion bottlenecks in urban areas. The Government will also allocate $40.0 million, committed to the Major Project Business Case Fund in the 2018 19 Budget, to a further five business cases for fast rail across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.