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Scaremongering to confuse migrant communities

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Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 .......... Telephone (06) 277 7860; Facsimile (06) 273 4144

MPS 49/96


Migrant communities should look at the facts on the Government's Budget, not listen to rumour and scaremongering, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today.

Mr Ruddock pointed out that some of the claims being made are simply false, while others ignore the total picture:

□ the Migrant Health Services Charge is $924 not $2,500. The charge is indexed under arrangements introduced by the former Government; □ there is no charge for short-term visitor visas, so fees cannot have risen by 200%; □ spending on the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP) this year will be $76.3 million, with

an additional $17.6 million over the next four years.

"The Government made no secret of its commitment to move towards user pays in immigration fees and charges. The monies recovered will allow us to concentrate more resources on providing settlement services for those people who are in need," Mr Ruddock said.

"The critics seem to think the Australian community should subsidise people who are coming here to gain an economic benefit through the skill migration stream. They are also pulling figures out of the air in an attempt to dress up their claims, but when you look at the detail, they do not stand up."

Migrants entering under the Preferential Family and humanitarian categories will be exempt from the AMEP charge. However, those entering under the skill-linked categories will have to meet the full cost of the service provided.

"People who can pay to obtain a service should do so, and enable the Government to provide services which will give migrants a better chance of successful settlement," Mr Ruddock said.

"The Budget was designed to benefit families, small business and young people."

"Migrant communities and families will gain a lot from this Budget. Many migrants run small businesses and you only have to look at the initiatives in that area of the economy to know that migrants will benefit."

CANBERRA, 23 August 1996

Media inquiries: Steve Ingram - 0419 785 715 or (06) 277 7860

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