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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 192


Senator MASON (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing) (6:47 PM) —I thank Senator Webber for the incorporation of that contribution. The Migration (Sponsorship Fees) Bill 2007 seeks to validate the past collection of certain sponsorship fees between 1 May 1997 and 23 May 2007. The validation is necessary for two reasons: firstly, because the strict wording of regulation 5.38 of the migration regulations, which required sponsors to lodge visa applications on behalf of the visa applicant, did not accord with the standard practice of visa applicants making their own application after sponsorship has been approved; and, secondly, due to an oversight in May 1997, consequential amendments were not made to regulation 5.38 to reflect the concept of a visa application charge. This concept had been introduced into the Migration Act and regulations on 1 May 1997 to replace visa application fees. The failure to make consequential amendments to regulation 5.38 and the divergence between the words of the regulation and the normal processing arrangements for visa applications and sponsorships has meant that sponsorship fees have been collected in cases where they were not strictly payable. Remedial amendments to regulation 5.38 were made on 13 April and 23 May 2007. These amendments ensure that, from 24 May this year, sponsorship fees can be lawfully collected. The amendments proposed in this bill will validate only those fees paid in connection with visa applications made between 1 May 1997 and 23 May 2007. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.