Report calls for Australian immigration reform

A Productivity Commission report, released on Monday, has called for Australia’s immigration system to be reformed to better target younger, more skilled migrants, with better English skills.

It is also recommended that criteria for family reunion visas should be tightened and that plans for an investment visa, which would pretty much allow foreigners to pay for a visa, should be scrapped.

“The current skilled migration programme falls short of generating the best outcomes for the Australian community,” the report states. “In essence, it does not adequately target migrants who are younger, more skilled and who have higher English-language proficiency.”

The commission said one of the main problems with the current system is that it allows temporary skilled workers nominated by employers to gain permanent residency without the need of a skills test. Recommendations made by the commission include introducing a single universal points test for all applicants and introducing a requirement for English language proficiency.

However, the report rejected a proposal made earlier this year by senator David Leyonhjelm to control the flow of migrants into the country by charging high fees for visas.

The commission said this scheme would result in migrants with lower skills and less ability with English gaining preference.

“There could also be a further skewing towards permanent immigrants from less developed countries — social concerns can arise when a high concentration of immigrants from any one group or country reduces diversity,” the commission said.

As far as family visas are concerned, the report suggested that the fees needed for parents’ of permanent residents to join their offspring in OZ should be increased.

There are two schemes for parents of migrants. One involves a relatively low fee of AUS$7,000 and has a waiting period of more than 30 years while the other offers expedited processing and is set at about AUS$47,000.

However, the Productivity Commission says this does not come close to covering the real cost to the taxpayer of a parent visa, which it ­estimates at between AUS$335,000 and AUS$410,000 after health, welfare and aged-care costs are counted.

The Government will now debate the outcome of this report over the coming weeks and months before announcing whether any action regarding reform will be taken.

Article published 13th September 2016