Unions and industry groups react to proposed price on immigration

by Chloe Taylor04 May 2015
New proposals by the Government would see the right to immigrate to Australia come with a price tag, with migrants no longer accepted based on the traditional points system which takes aspects such as skills and family connections into consideration.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Productivity Commission is investigating a price-based immigration system that uses fees as the primary method of determining who is eligible for entry to Australia.

Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm nominated $50,000 as a potential price for entry to Australia, The Herald revealed.

However, the proposals have received criticism from business groups and unions, who have argued that tackling skills shortages should remain the objective of the country’s immigration scheme.

On Friday, the Productivity Commission issues paper on migrant intake was released. The paper raised the proposals, which outlined two options for introducing an “immigration fee”: setting a price, with the size of intake determined by demand, or setting a cap on the intake and setting the price based on demand for entry.

An alternative suggestion was allowing a capped number of entries to be allocated via a system styled on the United States’ “diversity lottery”, which distributes 50,000 places annually to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.

Leyonhjelm said that the fee based system has been backed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, The Herald reported.

“This would make a substantial financial contribution to the Australian budget and I hope that would lead to lower taxes,” he said.

He added that businesses requiring skilled migrants could pay the fee, or governments could waive the fee for specific professions or trades.

When releasing the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry earlier this year, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that the proposals were not government policy.

“The government is keen to see the Productivity Commission analyse these issues thoroughly, however there are no plans to make significant changes to the migration program,” he said.

Innes Willox, Australian Industry Group chief executive, said that skilled migrants should remain the main source of entrants to Australia, The Herald said in its report.

“We are concerned the Productivity Commission's inquiry is focused on allowing only those rich enough to migrate regardless of fulfilling the current requirements, including filling skills shortages,” said Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney.

A draft report of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry is due in November, with the final report to be handed to the government next March following public hearings. 


  • by Jenny 6/05/2015 12:08:51 PM

    In of itself this idea sounds like a recipe for an elitist society where only the wealthy can enter. That goes against the principals of a 'fair go' that many Australians still believe in and makes us an attractive place to live. What kind of society do we end up with if people have made a one-off payment to get in, but can't or won't contribute to the future development of the country? A welfare dependent society, thats what. That perpetuates the trouble the trouble we're in already .

    Australia is a young country with an aging workforce. The skills shortage is getting worse each year. Skill based migration helps to bridge that gap and creates more workers contributing to the tax base = WIN/WIN.

    The only group a 'price on immigration' could possibly be fairly applied to are those who do not intend to work here ie. retirees. They should have to prove they can support themselves in retirement (based on their age & life expectancy), including paying for their own health care. They should have no access to welfare payments but be able to access all forms of senior/pensioner discounts.

    Finally, has anyone given any thought to what some people may do in order to raise the money to get here? The type of behaviours this may drive in desperate people(?) ......crime, selling organs, corruption etc

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