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Government blocked from managing migration program

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M e d i a R e l e a s e

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2 6 0 0

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 414^4


In an unprecedented move, Senate obstruction will prevent the Government from properly managing the Migration Program, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock said today.

"The decision by non-Government Senators to disallow migration regulations means that for the first time in history, an elected Government will not be allowed to do its job of managing the Migration Program," Mr Ruddock said.

"Last year, the balance between family and skilled categories in the Program was allowed to get out of control. The Preferential Family category rose by more than 32%, while the highly skilled Independent category was cut by 29%."

"The Government introduced measures to restore that balance, and to help restore public confidence in the Program. The Opposition has sabotaged the solution."

"The irony of this, is that the person who presided over the mismanagement of the Program, Senator Bolkus, is the person who tabled the motion to disallow Regulations that would enable the Government to equitably address the problem," Mr Ruddock said.

'The Democrats who have have a policy of zero net migration, are duplicitous with their opposition to our sensible and moderate measures. To implement zero net migration, would mean a Migration Program slashed to 30,000 places."

'T o bring about a Program consistent with Democrat policy would require measures far harsher than those proposed by the Coalition and dismantled by the Democrats. They are clearly ignoring their own catchcry and are not being honest with themselves or the Australian public."

As well as giving the Government equitable management tools, some of the Regulations would have had the effect of delaying applications or implementing Government election commitments. The regulations disallowed by the Senate would: • require sponsors in the Preferential Family category to be Australian citizens

• allow refugees to bring their immediate families into Australia under the

Humanitarian Program • recognise English language skills in the Concessional Family category which has a high skills component • require the majority of an intending migrant's children to be in Australia before

they can be sponsored as a parent under balance of family • meet the Coalition election commitment to seek full cost recovery of English language tuition charges • facilitate the Commonwealth to recoup benefits claimed by migrants within the

first two years

7 November 1996 MEDIA CONTACT Steve Ingram (06) 277 7860