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Migration advice industry takes greater responsibility



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

MRS 27/97 MIGRATION ADVICE INDUSTRY TAKES GREATER RESPONSIBILITY

The Government has taken another step towards the reduction of red tape and will introduce statutory self-regulation of the migration advice industry, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock announced today.

"Legislation for the Migration Agents’ Registration Scheme was due to expire in September this year. The scheme will be extended for six months till 21 March 1998 to enable the Government to develop and introduce industry-based self-regulation,” Mr Ruddock said.

"People giving migration advice will be required to be registered with the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) and will have to meet professional standards and codes of conduct."

"The extra six months of operation for the Scheme will enable the MIA to establish infrastructure to take on the self-regulation role."

'The new form of industry-based regulation will be re-examined within two years of its implementation with a view to the industry moving to voluntary self-regulation."

The changes follow a review by a taskforce within the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, guided by a reference group of independent experts, chaired by Ian Spicer, former Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce.

The Migration Agents Registration Scheme (MARS) began operation in 1992 with a view to raising the professional standards of the industry. Around 2,200 agents are currently registered.

'The change will allow for a continuing improvement in industry standards, competency levels and consumer awareness," Mr Ruddock said.

"In addition to an enhanced consumer protection focus through a complaints resolution process, the industry body will be able to impose disciplinary sanctions against agents who behave in an unethical or grossly unprofessional manner. While the Legislation is yet to be drafted, I expect this would include removal of the right to practice."

"Lawyers will still be required to be part of the system, but it is anticipated the cost of compliance with the industry regulation will be reduced. The new system will be required to be self-funding, ensuring no ongoing cost to the taxpayer."

Legislation to effect the changes is expected to be introduced in the 1997 Spring

MEDIA CONTACT: Minister's Office: Steve Ingram 06 277 7860 Migration Institute of Australia: Ray Brown, President, 02 9233 7778

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 4144

Sittings. COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY

20 March 1997

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