NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley has proposed the states and the Commonwealth work together to devise a five year plan on immigration, in order to better manage a growing population.

A 2016 Productivity Commission report recommended that Australia publish a National Population Policy, after finding that the costs of migration fell disproportionately on the states - who are responsible for providing infrastructure and services.

Mr Foley wants to see a National Population Policy implemented and updated every five years, to provide the states with more certainty to plan for new schools, hospitals and housing.

Currently, the Federal government sets the annual migrant intake number on its own, and the number can vary wildly.

For example, from 2004-2008 annual net migration increased from about 107,000 to over 300,000 people.

Mr Foley is calling for a discussion to occur every year between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, so all the pressures being seen in state capitals can be part of the decision making.

The Productivity Commission identified an “apparent lack of interest” by state governments in the issue and the NSW Government did not even bother to lodge a submission.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Multiculturalism is the great Australian success story and there are obviously great benefits to immigration.

“But there are also costs and the Productivity Commission has found that these are disproportionately borne by state and local governments – because they have to deliver the infrastructure a growing population needs.

“The migration intake has to be set not simply by the Commonwealth in isolation but by all levels of government working together.

“The capacity of our large cities to cope is being severely tested – and the test is greatest in Sydney.

“The Commonwealth is setting the net migration number while only thinking about what it means for its fiscal balance – the cost for the states just isn’t factored in at the moment.”


The Productivity Commission’s report “Migration Intake into Australia” is available here: