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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 12822

Mr ROBB (GoldsteinMinister for Trade and Investment) (09:04): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Visa labels are placed in passports as physical evidence of a noncitizen having a visa for Australia. They have not been required as evidence of a visa since comprehensive changes to migration legislation were made in 2012.

The 2012 changes dramatically reduced the number of visa labels issued.

In 2014 demand for visa labels was driven down further by way of an increase to the visa evidence charge. In August 2015 only 2,816 visa labels were issued, compared to 100,000 labels per month in 2011.

With demand for visa labels at an all-time low and the success of more innovative methods of evidencing visas by way of digital systems, amendments were made to the Migration Regulations on 1 September 2015 which effectively discontinued the issue of any new visa labels.

Consultation with industry has been ongoing for years about these changes. The amendments in this bill are the final step in the transition to 'label-free' visas.

The changes are in line with the Australian government's digital agenda to make services more accessible and efficient for the clients by providing them with reliable digital alternatives.

From a regulatory reform perspective, the changes will result in savings for businesses and individuals as a consequence of not having to pay for visa labels. It is estimated that the total regulatory saving per year following the cessation of visa labels is $2.89 million. The use of digital services is more sustainable into the future with the increasing demand for immigration services.

I commend this bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned.