South Australian Liberal leader Steven Marshall says skilled migrants should be diverted to the state to keep population growth in line with the rest of the nation and drive down unemployment.
Mr. Marshall has announced his party's population growth policy ahead of the March state election. It emphasises the need to attract more overseas workers and stop the drift of locals seeking job opportunities interstate.
He says the state's annual growth rate is half that of the national figure of 1.8 percent and is contributing to economic decline.
Mr. Marshall says, if elected, he would lobby the Federal Government to get a preferential migration status for the state.
"The best thing that we can do is to grow our local economy to keep those people here in jobs," he said.
"What we know from the other states around Australia is that those states that have growing populations have got growing domestic economies and are creating jobs, not losing jobs."
Premier Jay Weatherill says the policy "misses the point."
He says the focus should instead be on ensuring opportunities for people already living in the state.
"It's important to have a growing population but it's also important to make sure that the population growth is at the right time, in the right place, with the right skills mix," he said.
"Our focus of attention is to attract and retain the young people that are going to drive the ideas and the jobs of the future."
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[eduaid Newsdesk, Source: ABC NEWS]