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Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Page: 11890

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (17:06): Labor does not support these amendments. The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 has been on the books for quite some time. Labor supported the original bill, which was dealt with about two years ago in this place. The original bill creates a framework which is legally enforceable in relation to family reunion visa applications, which were previously undertakings. On the amendments that are before the House, the government claims the new sponsorship framework requirements were originally intended to apply to the partner visa program would later extend to the family sponsored visa, including parent visa.

The government made a commitment, following on from the Labor Party, to introduce a new sponsored temporary visa to allow parents to stay in Australia for a period of up to five years. The government's amendments assign financial responsibility for health costs and go beyond the stated objective of applying to parent visas. These amendments make changes to the sponsored family visa program, which allows the government to collect debts for medical, hospital, aged-care or health related expenses from sponsored family visa holders. Although the government claims this is to enact an election promise of creating a new sponsored parent visa, there are no guarantees in the amendments that this debt recovery function won't apply or be extended to other sponsored family visa classes.

The government's own explanatory memorandum states that these debt recovery functions are currently only intended to apply to sponsored parent visa holders and are unlikely to extend to sponsors of partner- or child-visa holders. The ability of a visa-holder child to access medical assistance shouldn't be dependent on the sponsor's capacity to pay for the treatment. Before the election, the coalition promised one thing and have done something different after. Given the lack of protections for children and the continual broken promises to migrant communities in relation to this matter—and I've travelled around the country to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth listening to migrant communities—Labor opposes this amendment today.

Question agreed to.