The minister tasked by the Prime Minister to “bust” congestion has massively inflated the number of skilled migrants moving to Melbourne and Sydney.

The mistaken “fact”, as Cities Minister Alan Tudge described it, has been used as a central justification for a plan to draw more migrants to the regions.

Regional migration is part of a plan from the Government to address congestion that also includes spending more on infrastructure and coordinating better with local authorities.

But the latest Migration Program Report actually shows a decrease in the number of skilled migrants intending to live in New South Wales and Victoria.

The controversial claim made by Mr Tudge was that 87 per cent of skilled migrants go to Sydney and Melbourne.

It was first used in newspaper reports in August attributed to the Department of Home Affairs that quoted Mr Tudge.

The figure was subsequently used by the Minister in a prominent speech setting out the Government’s plan to draw more migrants from cities to regions.

“The fact is that 87 per cent of all skilled migrants are going to Sydney and Melbourne, and nearly all of the humanitarian intake,” he told the Menzies Research Centre in October.

“We want to have a more even distribution.”

When contacted by the ABC, Mr Tudge’s office clarified the figure. In a statement a spokesperson said: “Eighty-Seven per cent of skilled migrants go to Sydney, Melbourne and other capital cities.”

The discrepancy is significant according to other available information.

The 2017-18 Migration Program Report released at the end of October showed 57 per cent of migrants intended to live in New South Wales or Victoria.

That’s a decrease of two percentage points compared to the previous year.

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