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Monday, 2 March 2020
Page: 2066

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Climate Change Migration

Dear Mr O'Brien

Thank you for your correspondence of 20 January 2020 requesting a response to petition EN0983 concerning Australia's settlement of migrants (including refugees) and concerns about migrants who break the law. I appreciate the time you have taken to bring this matter to my attention. Your correspondence has been referred to me as the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs as the matter falls within my portfolio responsibilities.

On 20 March 2019, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, released 'A Plan for Australia's Future Population', which is available at: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/plan-australias-future-population. The Plan outlines a package of initiatives aimed to address population growth in Australia's major cities, while encouraging more new migrants to live and work in regional Australia, where there are genuine skill labour force shortages. The plan includes a commitment to significant investments in infrastructure and major transport projects across Australia to support a growing population.

To better align with Australia's population plan, the Australian Government set the permanent Migration Program in 2019-20 at a reduced planning level of 160,000 places. Other changes to the 2019-20 Migration Program included an increased focus on highly skilled migrants and the introduction of two regional visas, which encourage new migrants to live and work in regional Australia. These changes ensure that Australia will continue to benefit from migrants' contribution to Australia's economy and society.

In determining the size and composition of the Humanitarian Program, the Government undertakes extensive consultations with key stakeholders, including the community sector, state and territory governments, other portfolio agencies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

People who come to Australia under the Humanitarian Program are settled in a number of locations, taking into account whether appropriate infrastructure is available in a location, including:

affordable housing;

mainstream and specialist services, including health services, torture and trauma services and school;

settlement services;

opportunities for employment;

religious support/places of worship; and

capacity for integration and harmonious settlement.

The Government takes very seriously its obligation to protect the Australian community from non-citizens who pose a risk to the Australian community and to uphold the integrity of the Migration Program.

All non-citizens who wish to enter or remain in Australia must satisfy the requirements of the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) and Migration Regulations 1994, including the character test at section 501 of the Act.

A person can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including having a substantial criminal record where their conduct represents a risk to the Australian community or segments of the Australian community, or they have been convicted of sexually based offences involving a child. More information is available on the Department of Home Affairs' website at: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/helpĀ­support/meeting-our-requirements/character.

Following recommendations from the Joint Standing Committee on Migration's report on migrant settlement outcomes, the Government tabled amendments to the Act in Parliament to address the recommendation that those convicted of a serious offence, have their visas cancelled under the character provisions. The Joint Standing Committee's report is available on the Parliament of Australia's website at:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Migration/settlementoutcomes/Report.

The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019 will create a discretionary power to refuse or cancel a visa if a non-citizen has received a court conviction, in Australia or overseas, for a designated offence which is punishable by a maximum sentence of not less than two years imprisonment and involves:

violence against a person;

non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature;

breaching a Court or Tribunal order made for the personal protection of another person;

using or possessing a weapon; or

in any way procuring or assisting with one of these designated crimes.

More information about the Bill is available on the Parliament of Australia's website at: https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlinfo/search/display/display.w3p;query= Id» % «3A %22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr6349%22.

As some of the matters you have raised do not fall within my portfolio, your letter was also referred to the Minister for Energy and Emission Reduction, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, for response.

Thank you for bringing the petition to my attention. Yours sincerely

Jason Wood