Migrants bringing parents to Australia should wear cost, Productivity Commission says

Reproduced from ABC News, By Danuta Kozaki

Migrants who bring their parents to Australia should be responsible for their living costs as part of an overhaul to family reunion visas, a Productivity Commission report has recommended.

The Federal Government last year asked the commission to undertake an inquiry into the use of visa charges and the impact on Australia’s migrant intake.

The report found family reunion visas need to be restricted for parents of migrants, with the average older age and shorter time in the workforce costing the health and welfare system billions of dollars.

Under the recommended changes, a temporary visa for parents would allow them to stay for a longer period of time as long as the sponsoring child met the necessary health and income costs during their stay.

The report also said criteria for non-contributory parent visas should be narrowed to cases where there were “strong compassionate grounds”.

More consultation needed: Migration Council Australia

Migration Council Australia chief executive Carla Wilshire welcomed the report, and said it was comprehensive and well balanced.

“I think it makes some excellent points about recalibrating what some of the economic advantages are of migration,” she said.

But Ms Wilshire said she had concerns about the commission’s recommended changes to the migrant parents visa system.

“I think we need to be careful and do a comprehensive community consultation,” she said.

“For a lot of migrant families, separation from parents is a particularly difficult part.”

The chairman of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, Joseph Caputo noted the system governing migrant parents’ visas was already highly regulated.

“We are disappointed they are recommending tightening up the already very strict regulations in place for bringing parents into the country,” he said.

Mr Caputo also highlighted the indirect benefits that parents brought to their migrant children upon arrival.

“Many grandparents provide much needed childcare for their working children,” he said.

“They can also contribute in other ways, including helping the family settle in Australia without the worry of an elderly parent alone overseas.”

Local jobs unaffected by new arrivals, report says

The Productivity Commission report also highlighted the impact of migration on Australia’s labour market.

It concluded that on an aggregate level, local workers have been neither helped nor harmed by immigration over the 2000-2011 period.

It said the impact on the youth labour market remained inconclusive.

The report found that employers were less likely to invest in workforce training because of a “ready access to skilled immigrant labour, especially via the Temporary Skilled Work 457 visa program”.

It also found high rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities.

“Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive state, territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies,” the report said.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the Federal Government would consider all the report’s recommendations respond in due course.