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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 570

Senator MISSEN —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. It relates to the mandatory requirement placed on prospective migrants that they have a written job offer when they submit their application for permanent residence. Is the Minister aware that because a large number of employers are prepared to give verbal but not written employment offers, many migrants are being deprived of the opportunity of coming to Australia even though they may have substantially high points overall and considerable assets? Is the Minister also aware that many applicants get around this requirement by organising job offers that they have no intention of taking up upon their arrival in Australia? In light of this abuse and the hypocritical nature of the provision which compares, surely in its hypocrisy, with the requirement of the European language tests under the white Australia policy, I ask the Minister: Firstly, how many complaints has the Government received from potential migrants and employers about the unreasonable nature of this requirement? Secondly, will the Government undertake a review of this requirement in an effort to make it easier for those prospective migrants who have genuine promises of employment, but not written offers, to gain permanent residence?

Senator GRIMES —Yes, there is a provision, as Senator Missen has indicated, that people have written offers of jobs before they are allowed to have permanent residence in this country. This is not a provision which has been introduced by the present Government, as I am sure he knows; it is a provision in the immigration procedures with a twofold purpose: Firstly, to protect the jobs of Australians, to ensure that people are not coming out here to take jobs for which there are plenty of applicants in Australia; and, secondly, to ensure that migrants who come here do have an opportunity under these circumstances to work and do not quickly become a cost to the public purse through the social security system or other systems.

I think Senator Missen suggested that people are, if I might use the vernacular, rorting the system. Yes, I agree, and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs agrees, that that does happen, as it happens in all systems of this type. The Minister at the moment has this whole procedure under review to try to introduce a system which will not be so prone to such rorting. I am informed by the Minister that no records are kept of the exact number of complaints of people misusing this system and, therefore, I cannot assist the honourable senator in that regard.

As for the second and final part of his question, yes, the Minister is reviewing the situation, as is the Department, with a view to, first of all, making the system fairer and, secondly, ensuring that people are unable to come here by falsifying records and that those who have the genuine capacity to work and to contribute to this society can in fact get here. I do not think it is an unreasonable provision that people have written proof that they have a job offer. An employer who would give only verbal proof of such a job offer would, in my view, be fairly suspect.