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Government to maintain balanced Migration (Non-Humanitarian) Program.
The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
GOVERNMENT TO MAINTAIN
BALANCED MIGRATION (NON-HUMANITARIAN) PROGRAM
The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Rud dock, has announced the Government's 1998-99 Migration (Non-Humanitarian) Program will be maintained at 68,000 places.
The Minister has also announced new measures to further increase the economic benefits of the program.
"The Skill stream planning level will remain at 35,000 places, the Family stream planning level will be 30,500 places, and the Special Eligibility stream planning level will be 2,500 places," Mr Ruddock said.
"Together with a Humanitarian Program of 12,000 places, the total intake for 1998-99 will again be 80,000 places.
“This represents a continuation of the Government's election commitment to an immigration policy that seeks to balance Australia's social, economic, humanitarian and environmental needs and objectives."
The Government has already made adjustments to ensure the Skill stream delivers greater economic benefits and further changes from the Review of the Points Test will be outlined shortly.
Given the positive economic impact of skilled migrants, Mr Ruddock said he understood the strong desire of some states, particularly Victoria, to attract a larger number of skilled migrants.
"If interested states and territories are able to attract a substantially increased share of the skilled intake, predominantly away from Sydney, I would be prepared to shift places from the more general skilled categories to the state specific categories," Mr Ruddock said
Parents and Aged Dependent Relatives
"The Government has been concerned for some time about the costs associated with the entry of parents and aged dependent relatives," Mr Ruddock said.
"New migrants aged over 45 generally face extreme difficulties in the Australian labour market with unemployment rates as high as 50% some 18 months after arrival."
In response, from 1 November 1998 new applicants in the parents' category will have to be of retirement age, currently 65 years for men and 61 years for women.
Measures will also be introduced to ensure that sponsors rather than the community in general meet costs associated with applicants in these categories.
The Assurance of Support bond covering Parents and Preferential Family categories has not been adjusted for inflation since it was introduced in 1991.
The bond will therefore increase from $3,500 for the main applicant plus $1,500 per additional adult to $4,000 for the main applicant and $2,000 per additional adult.
The health services charge will increase from $940 per person to $5,000 per adult in the parents and aged dependent relative categories.
"At $5,000, the new health charge wilt represent less than 20% of the average cost of health services, (not including nursing home services) that people aged 65 or more will incur for the remainder of their life," Mr Ruddock said.
In additional, people providing an Assurance of Support for parents and aged dependent relatives will be income-tested to demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to do so.
The testing will be linked to Family Payment eligibility levels (ie around $23,400 per annum) plus an adjustment of $624 for each dependent or sponsored child and $2,000 for each dependent or sponsored adult.
Once the new parent category is in operation, new applicants will receive a higher processing priority than existing applicants. Existing applicants will be able to choose to enter under the new category if they wish, but would need to meet the new bond and health charge requirements.
The Government will also introduce provisions to enable parents on the existing self funded retiree visa to convert to permanent residence after 10 years in Australia, irrespective of whether they meet the Balance of Family test.
“With these changes the Government has decided that the number of places for parents can be increased from around 1,000 places in 1997-98 to around 2,500 places in 1998-99," Mr Ruddock said.
"The Government recognises the genuine desire of many migrants to be reunited with their parents.
"However it is crucial that in achieving this, an undue burden of cost is not placed on the Australian taxpayer.
"The increase in parent places can be accommodated due to reduced demand in the spouse/fiance categories. The reduced demand reflects the effectiveness of the Government's strategy to deal with sham marriages."
Based on a migration program of this size and protected fertility levels, Australia's population should peak at around 23-million people before the middle of next century.
8 April 1998
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Brad Robinson 02 6277 7860 0419 278 715
Note: See attached table for details.
MIGRATION (NON-HUMANITARIAN) PROGRAM
1 996-97, 1997-98 AND 1998-99