CANBERRA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has argued for maintaining the country's migration intake to safeguard the economy.
Frydenberg on Friday said immigration was vital for Australia's economic success, a significant turnaround from the government's previous position of promising to significantly reduce the nation's cap on migration.
"Our plan is to continue to grow the economy and to continue to have a very strong and robust and welcoming immigration system," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday evening.
Following a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting where state, territory and federal ministers agreed on measures to plan for population growth, Frydenberg said immigration "will continue to be strong here in Australia."
It comes only three months after Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison indicated the annual permanent migration cap would be cut from 190,000, saying the nation's major cities were "full."
"The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full," he said in November.
Under the strategy agreed on Friday, a greater share of permanent migrants will be channelled towards smaller states and regional areas to boost population growth in those areas and ease Melbourne and Sydney's growing pains.
South Australia (SA) is one of the states pushing for more migrants, with Federal Immigration Minister David Coleman on Friday announcing the state would receive 19.5 million Australian dollars (13.8 million U.S. dollars) in funding to attract skilled migrants.
"We understand the concerns that Sydney and Melbourne ... have got about infrastructure," state Treasurer Rob Lucas said.
"But as the Premier has indicated, we are very, very supportive of a greater concentration of immigration focus into SA."