The Property Council of Australia has thrown its support behind the ACT Government’s Skilled and Business Migration Program, announced last week.
However, while strongly commending the ACT Government’s new strategy to combat the national skills crisis, the Executive Director of the Property Council’s ACT Division, Catherine Carter, said Canberra must also promote strong population growth in its region – aiming for 500,000 by 2030.
The ACT Minister for Economic Development, Ted Quinlan, said the Government’s Skilled and Business Migration Program would seek to attract 300 to 500 new arrivals in the first year with up to 1,000 in subsequent years.
“This skilled migration program is a sensible response to the impending skills crisis that currently threatens so many Australian professions and industries in all states and territories,” Ms Carter said.
“We have long advocated this diversification of the ACT skills base by turning to skilled workers from overseas to bolster the ACT economy against the national skills crisis. I commend Mr Quinlan and Government. The Property Council will participate in any collaboration between Government and the private sector to make the program a success.
“But Canberra can only compete with other states and territories in the longer term if its economy is self-sustaining, and this means it needs to have a bigger population and economic base.”
Ms Carter said that when Canberra’s population passed the 300,000 mark it made it possible to have a national football team like the Brumbies choose Canberra as its home base. A greater population also generates greater cultural diversity across the arts, science, health and education, and makes Canberra a more attractive place to live.
As an example, the Brumbies have injected millions of dollars into the economy and generated international prestige. This growing reputation for sporting prowess is invaluable for Canberra’s reputation.
The rising population had also influenced the founding of Canberra’s new medical school, and this promotes excellence at Canberra’s hospitals.
“The sort of city we want Canberra to be can only be possible if we have enough people,” Ms Carter said. “It is the only way to sustain our economy and the only way to retain our valuable workforce of competent experts, professionals and workers.
“The Council sees Canberra as a really fantastic place to live. But the only way forward is through population growth.
“We support the Government’s skilled migration program and we will continue to work towards a bigger population base. We think that is absolutely doable.”
Catherine Carter, Executive Director, 02 6248 6902 or 0412 330 079