FEDERAL Member for Mallee Andrew Broad says a new federal policy which would force migrants to live regionally for up to five years is a "sound" one.
The plan to impose strict visa conditions on some new migrants, with the aim of spreading the country's burgeoning population away from metropolitan areas, was announced by Federal Minister for Population and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge last week.
Mr Tudge presented a four part plan, with the first two stages focussing on "heavy investment in infrastructure", the third involving a decentralisation agenda and the fourth a more co-ordinated approach to the population planning process which would integrate infrastructure investment with forecast population growth rates.
The state Coalition has been running on the platform of a decentralisation agenda and Mr Broad said if the Opposition were to win government at the next election, the new visa policy would be well-supported.
But, asked if the plan was workable if Labor retained government, Mr Broad was uncertain.
"I don't know, but the discussion needs to be had as a country not just around what are our immigration numbers, but how do you spread our population around Australia," he said.
Critics of the policy have pointed out regional areas lacking in infrastructure could struggle accommodate migrants, but Mr Broad said a bigger community would ultimately result in more investment.
"It tends to be that where people are, resources have to follow, it would nice if it was the other way around but it just doesn't seem to work that way," he said.
"And if we send them into the cities there isn't any infrastructure either, I mean how many people can you fit in a train?"
Mr Broad said a key part of the policy would be ensuring the communities migrants were sent to embrace them.
"You can't force people into a community if the community doesn't want them, so something that needs to be thought through is if we are going to direct people out into the regions you'd want the Swan Hill council or the Swan Hill community to say we are open for business, we want these people. That discussion needs to be had," he said.
Mr Broad said he would like to see bipartisan work on the issue, but it was a "bit thin-on-the-ground" in the current political climate.
Asked if individuals should have the right to decide where they live, free of government interference, Mr Broad said this only applied to Australian citizens.
"Not if they're not Australian citizens, if you come to a country from another country and you want to live here because you think it is a great place to live, then you have to abide by the laws and abide by the directions of that country," he said.