On various news channels, it was reported that the Australian government was considering “selling” the right to immigrate to Australia. The Productivity Commission was reportedly investigating a price-based immigration system. If this “radical” proposal was approved, migrants would no longer be accepted based on their family connections or skills. Instead, entry fees would be used as the primary determinant in choosing who would be granted entry to Australia.
According to news reports, this scheme could bring in tens of billions of dollars in extra revenue and could possibly help the Australian government rein in the budget deficit. It would also allow the Government to reduce the number of public servants running Australia’s immigration system.
Opposition to the Proposed System
Unsurprisingly, this scheme did not sit well with business groups and union. They asserted that the main focus of Australia’s immigration policy should be tackling skills shortages. Meanwhile, ethnic community groups held that they would “oppose any moves that would prevent poorer immigrants from re-uniting with their families.”
Current vs. Proposed Immigration System
Currently, the Australian migration policy grants permanent residency visas to three streams of migrants, namely those with relatives in Australia, those with specific skills and those who meet special eligibility criteria.
With the proposed fee-based system, the Productivity Commission studied two options to introduce the immigration fee: 1) “setting a price, with the size of the intake dictated by demand” or 2) “setting a cap on the intake and allowing demand to dictate the price of entry.”
What are the differences?
Loan Programs for Hopeful Immigrants
Loan programs might be introduced to address the dilemma of hopeful immigrants who are unable to pay upfront. Immigrants might also be given the option to borrow against their future expected earnings.
Not Government Policy
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton remarked that the proposal was not government policy.
“The government is keen to see the Productivity Commission analyse these issues thoroughly, however there are no plans to make significant changes to the migration program,” he stated.
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