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Migration (Health Services) Charge Bill 1991
House: House of Representatives Portfolio: Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs Purpose To impose a charge on certain visa and entry permit applicants in respect of which an assurance of support is required.
Background The measures contained in this Bill and the Migration Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1991 propose to give effect to a 1991- 92 Budget announcement that the Government would introduce a non- refundable levy of $822 per migrant covered by an assurance of support to recover medical, hospital and pharmaceutical costs incurred by the Commonwealth on behalf of such migrants. 1
An assurance of support is "... a legal commitment to repay support costs for some relatives who migrate under the current parent and preferential family category of the Migration Program". 2 An assurance of support is "... designed to ensure that the general Australian community does not have to take the responsibility for providing financial support, if required, for people covered by the assurance during their first five years in Australia". 3
Paragraph 181(1)(h) of the Migration Act 1958 (the Principal Act) provides that the Governor- General may make regulations: "requiring assurances of support to be given, in such circumstances as are prescribed or as the Minister thinks fit, in relation to persons seeking to enter, or remain in, Australia and providing for the enforcement of assurances of support and the imposition on persons who give assurances of support of liabilities in respect of the maintenance of, and other expenditure in connexion with, the persons in respect of whom the assurances are given".
Assurances may be required for applicants in a number of visa and entry permit classes. Visa and entry permits subject to assurances are listed in Schedule 2 of the Migration Regulations 1989 and are indicated by alphabetical symbols `B' or `B 1' in column 3 next to the relevant visa category. 4
Department of Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs receipts from items including: applications for migration to Australia; applications for change of status to permanent resident; applications for temporary resident visas; and applications for grant of Australian citizenships totalled $92 300 260 in 1990- 91. 5 The principal source of receipts was from applications for migration Australia, which totalled $21 198 219. 6
In the Explanatory Memorandum to this Bill, the proposed $822 charge is estimated to represent a 50% contribution toward the cost to the Commonwealth of providing access to medical, hospital and pharmaceutical benefits to assured migrants, and raise $9.9 million annually in additional revenue.
Main Provisions Clause 5 provides that a charge will be payable: * if a person has applied on or after 21 August 1991 for a visa or entry permit; and * if the visa or entry permit has been granted before the commencement of this Bill - regulations made under paragraph 181(1)(h) of the Principal Act (the effect of this paragraph is outlined in the `Background' to this Digest above) required an assurance in relation to the applicant; or
in any other case: * regulations made under paragraph 181(1)(h) of the Principal Act require an assurance of support in relation to the applicant; and * the Minister has given the applicant notice that a visa or entry permit cannot be granted unless the charge has been paid; and * the applicant would be granted the visa or entry permit.
The charge will be payable by the applicant for a visa or entry permit, or any person who gives an assurance of support in relation to the applicant.
The initial rate of charge will be $822. This amount will be indexed for movements in the Consumer Price Index each year, rounded to the nearest dollar (clause 6).
A person will be exempt from the charge where: he/she has already been granted a visa; the entry permit is of the same class as the visa; and if he/she withdraws an application for a visa or entry permit (clause 7).
References 1. Budget Statements 1991- 92, Budget Paper No. 1, p. 4.14. 2. Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs, Media Release, 20 August 1991. 3. Australian Immigration Law Service, Butterworths Pty Ltd, Vol. 1, p. 735. 4. Ibid. 5. Department of Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs, Review '91 - Annual Report 1990- 91, pp. 241- 243. 6. Ibid.
Bills Digest Service 2 December 1991 Parliamentary Research Service
For further information, if required, contact the Education and Welfare Group on 06 2772415.
This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.
Commonwealth of Australia 1991.
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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1991.