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Disallowance strikes taxpayers and parent sponsors

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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 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4144


Australian taxpayers face a huge financial burden as a result of the Senate's decision to veto last November’s parent migration reforms, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today.

Mr Ruddock said he had introduced the reforms because of his concerns about the cost to the taxpayer associated with the large number of aged migrants seeking permanent residence in Australia.

“Research shows that older less skilled migrants are a net cost to the budget and, unlike most other migrant categories, this cost tends to rise over time.

“In order to address this, I reduced the number of places for parents in 1997-98 to 1,000 compared to the almost 8,900 visas issued in 1995-96, and initiated a review of the arrangements for the entry of parents and other aged relatives.

“As a result of the review, sponsors rather than the general Australian taxpayer became responsible for bearing a fairer share of the costs of entry associated with this migrant group”.

Mr Ruddock said that parent entrants to Australia placed a disproportionate burden on Australia's health and welfare systems.

“With almost 20,000 parents wishing to migrate, Australia’s health and welfare systems simply can’t afford to carry the burden of cost.

“The Government believes, as the Labor Party did when in Government, that it is reasonable for sponsors and assurers of parent applicants to bear a fairer responsibility in supporting their relatives rather than expecting their * - — neighbours to meet the costs.

“This is why we asked applicants to pay a one-off fee of $5000 towards their health costs, up from about $1,000. Even this figure represents less than 20% of the average of $28,000 that is spent on the health of a person over 65.”

Mr Ruddock said that over 2,200 people had applied to enter Australia under the now disallowed scheme, but would now have to join the queue of almost 20,000 under the old scheme.

“The changes allowed the number of places allocated for parent categories to increase from around 1,000 last financial year, to around 3,000 in 1998-99.

“But today's vote means that the 2,200 people who applied to enter Australia under the new scheme will have no choice but to join the lengthy queue.

“It also means that in future years, I will not have the Budget cover to keep parent numbers at the 1998-99 level,” Mr Ruddock said.

ENDS Wednesday, 31 March 1999

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