Why regional towns are backing Aussie migration inquiry
A FEDERAL inquiry into migration in regional Australia is currently underway, attracting submissions from organisations and individuals through the state.
At least one Queensland community has publicly backed the push for more immigration into regional centres with leaders saying the town's major business has a proven track record of successfully welcoming, educating and training overseas workers.
Just over an hour north-east of Brisbane, the Somerset Regional Council is looking capitalise on the project to back its already hard-working immigrant population.
It follows on from the first Filipino migrants arriving at the region's largest employer Kilcoy Pastoral Company in 2005.
SRC mayor Graeme Lehmann and KPC CEO Dean Goode penned a joint submission emphasising the importance of immigration to the company and to the Somerset Region.
The submission was presented to the Somerset Council during today's meeting.
"I think it's important for regions like ours to look into this issue," Councillor Bob Whalley said.
"This is a problem that needs to be addressed," Cr Helen Brieschke agreed, noting she was very impressed by the statistics presented in the report.
Ten submissions how various regional centres want to adopt more migrants have been made, including one from Study Gold Coast arguing the popular holiday destination it should be considered regional.
In August, the Minister for ImmigrationDavid Coleman, instructed the Joint Standing Committee on Migration to launch the inquiry.
The aim is to report on the current migrant settlement strategies and settings, with the goal of identifying areas that would most benefit from migrants, and discussing new ways to integrate them into communities.
The inquiry also intends to develop national strategies to encourage people to settle and stay in regional areas, by establishing initiatives on local, state, and federal levels.
The Somerset region has attracted 378 migrant workers, who have taken up residence in the regional community.
From that, 279 Filipino migrants live in the Kilcoy Urban Centre and Localities area - 10 per cent of the population - a far cry above the state's average of 0.8per cent.
The report posits this is largely due to immigrant workers at the KPC.
The Kilcoy Pastoral Company has been in operation since 1953, and is now the fourth largest beef processing company in the country.
It is also the largest employer in Kilcoy, with 1400 workers, with expansions planned that will necessitate an additional 600 staff within the next two years.
The company have had ongoing difficulty attracting adequate labour, with more than 50 per cent of its workforce already travelling to Kilcoy from different areas.
KPC already offer considerable support to sponsored immigrants to the region, assisting with accommodation and training.
Council and the KPC are both hoping the submission will help persuade the federal government to support increased immigration to the area, which will help expanding companies like the KPC to meet their growth goals, and enhance the cultural diversity of the Somerset community.
Councillors were unanimous in their endorsement of submission, viewing it as a vehicle to further push ongoing issues surrounding Kilcoy and the Brisbane Valley Highway.
"It's more important than ever for us to invest in local infrastructure," Cr Cheryl Gaedtke said.
Cr Whalley argued increased immigration wouldn't help the area if the roads couldn't support the influx.
"If we're supporting this, we should also be trying to push for projects like the Kilcoy bypass," he said.