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Election commitments key to immigration success, says Minister



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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 50/96

Election commitments key to immigration success, says Minister

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today the Budget delivers on the Government election commitments to multicultural Australia.

"The Government is enhancing the integrity o f its non-discriminatory migration programmes and the chances o f people settling successfully in Australia," M r Ruddock said.

"This Budget shows the Government is committed to a multicultural Australia by maintaining a balanced migration and humanitarian programme. We are also ensuring that people have access to and knowledge o f a range o f settlement services, once they arrive in Australia. This includes English language training for newly-arrived migrants.

"The integrity o f the processing system will be strengthened through funding to speed up assessment o f asylum claims and new measures to test the bona fides o f people seeking to enter Australia through spouse/fiance migration."

M r Ruddock reinforced the Government's commitment to meeting the needs o f people who came to Australia under the Humanitarian Programme.

"A full range o f services and access to benefits will continue for this group. However, in migration categories where fees apply, the Government will move to fulfill its commitment o f user pays," Mr Ruddock said.

The measures announced by the Minister include:

□ $5 million for an anti-racism education campaign in 1996-97 which will include programmes covering schools, work places, sporting organisations and the community. After a review, a further $5 million to complete programmes in 1997-98 is in prospect. □ an extra $17.6 million over four years for English language training through the Adult

Migrant English Program (AMEP). The Government is looking at competitive purchasing and using public tendering to introduce greater flexibility in the delivery o f language services and to ensure value for money. □ an additional $20.7 million over four years for enhanced settlement services. Migrants and

refugees will have enhanced settlement prospects through improved services from community-based organisations. The Government is looking to increase community participation in the delivery o f services to migrants and refugees.

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□ $700,000 over three years for the Australian Council on Citizenship. The Council will undertake a comprehensive review o f Australian citizenship, including citizenship legislation. This will include a review o f citizenship requirements such as residence, fluency in English and the pledge o f commitment. □ $9.6 million in 1996-97 on measures to speed up processing times for applications for

protection visas and measures which will help reduce the cost o f the Asylum Seekers Assistance Scheme from a forecast $22 million to an estimated $13 million in 1996-97. □ new measures to test the bona tides o f people seeking migration to Australia through spouse/fiance/interdependent relationships to assist in restoring the balance and confidence in

Australia's non-humanitarian migration programme o f 74,000. □ increases in fees and charges for a range of immigration services, including English language tuition, in line with the Government's user-pays policy which forms part o f its election commitments. Migrants coming to Australia through the Humanitarian Programme and the

Preferential Family Category of the Migration Programme will continue to be exempt from the charge. □ allocation of $11 million over the next four years for capital works at the Port Hedland Immigration Reception and Processing Centre to ensure the value o f the centre as a

Commonwealth asset is maintained. The funding will address long-standing occupational and safety requirements for staff and residents.

Canberra, 20 August 1996

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

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