«To be frank it would be unlikely they would obtain it and they would not be able to obtain permanent residency.
«It is about encouraging people to areas that have persistent problems in attracting people,» he said.
State governments are pushing back against a federal request for more information on their population growth and urban planning in a dispute over the money needed to stop congestion.
The Morrison government put the idea to state treasurers today but is struggling to get approval out of concern the changes could lead to more attempts by Canberra to tell states and territories where to house more people.
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad blasted the federal government for setting up the meeting without a clear idea of what the future intake would be and without offering enough information about why it wanted the state data.
«There was such a lack of intellectual rigour around the discussion today, I found it not a very practical use of time,» Ms Trad said after the meeting.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the federal government was only an “interested dilettante” on the question of how to accommodate a growing population when it did not fund enough infrastructure.
Mr Pallas said the meeting raised questions about the «carrying capacity» of each state when the answer depended in part on the Commonwealth’s ability to fund new road and rail projects to accommodate more people.
«This reinforced the fact that we can’t have a discussion about migration in isolation. The Commonwealth needs to back up its interest in the area with a commitment to help fund infrastructure in the states,» Mr Pallas said after the meeting.
Mr Pallas said the Victorian government was spending $13.9 billion on infrastructure across the state this year while the Commonwealth was only contributing less than $1 billion.
The meeting agreed to set up a working group on data sharing and a working group on regional migration needs, but there were conflicting views on the purpose of gathering the data.
One federal source said the data from the states would only be used to make more reliable projections on population growth and would not be gathered at the level of individual workers or taxpayers.
But Ms Trad said the states were only given a paper setting out the objectives on Wednesday night and this was not enough time for a considered discussion.
«We’ve got to make serious infrastructure investment decisions over the next two decades to support the growth in Queensland,» she said.
«All of the documents to support that are publicly available. It’s almost like the Commonwealth is blind to the work the states have done on this.»
The meeting in Canberra on Friday was another step toward deciding the federal government’s official cap on the permanent migration intake after Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared last year he wanted the cap of 190,000 places reduced to the practical level achieved last year, which was 162,000 places.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the immigration intake would continue to be strong and Cities Minister Alan Tudge said the government plans would help encourage more migrants to the regions.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said last year he saw no case to slow the migration intake but NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging a cut in the number of people coming to her state.
The reduction in the cap does not translate directly to the number of people in the country, given that overseas students and skilled foreign workers continue to arrive but are not counted in the permanent intake unless they are granted residency.
Mr Coleman said 70 per cent of migrants were skilled workers who added value to the economy.
“Migrants who are higher skilled and younger tend to be very valuable,” he said on Friday after the meeting with the states.
David Crowe is Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.