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Migration (Visa Application) Charge Amendment Bill 1998
Bills Digest No. 103 1998-99
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any offici al legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.
The Howard Government introduced the Bill for the Principal Act in 1996. This Bill was aimed at implementing the Government's policy of cost recovery in respect of immigration procedures and services. The existing system of visa application fees, the English Education Charge and the Health Services Charge were rolled into one visa application fee, with the amount of the fee being set by regulations, as well as giving the Minister the power to make regulations specifying exemptions and concessions. The incorporation of the English Education Charge and the Health Services Charge into a global visa application fee was said by the Government to make it procedurally easier for the Government to implement their policy of cost recovery.
This original Bill, as part of a package, attracted some controversy. The package involved the implementation of the Coalition’s policy of full cost recovery principles in the Adult Migrant English Program for those immigrants subject to the English Education Charge. The changes proposed by the current Bill are extremely minor. Nevertheless it has been sent to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee for enquiry. 1
The amendments to the principal legislation are set out in Schedule 1.
Item 1 changes the pronoun which is used to refer to the most recently published reference base for the Consumer Price Index from ‘their’ to ‘the’. That is, the phrase which previously read ‘their most recently published reference base’ will now read ‘the most recently published reference base’. The rationale for this amendment is unclear. The use of the possessive pronoun ‘their’ to refer to a plural set of numerical figures seems unexceptionable.
Item 2 replaces the word ‘index’ with the word ‘indexation’ in the main section of the Principal Act. This is explained to be needed to ensure consistency.
Item 3 inserts the word ‘except’ into a phrase that was designed to cater for an exception, but, as it is currently worded, would be likely to operate in such a way as to render the subsection dysfunctional. The subsection in question specifies that calculations are to disregard figures published in substitution of previously published figures and, rather than excepting the case where the figures are published to take account of changes in the reference base, the section currently goes on to suggest that they should be disregarded when the substituted figures are published to take account of changes in the reference base.
For ease of reference the current provision [ss5(4)(b)] is reproduced here, with the proposed amendment in italics:
[Calculations under subsection (2)] are to disregard indexation numbers that are published in substitution for previously published index numbers ( except where the substituted numbers are published to take account of changes in the reference base).
1. According to the House of Representatives Notice Paper the Bill was referred to the Committee on the 9 th of December 1998, which is due to report on the 8 th of March 1999.
4 February 1999
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services
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