Greens Senator, Nick McKim, has labelled “horrific” the number of years taken for migrants to bring their elderly parents to Australia under Australia’s permanent migration program. From SBS News:
Migrant advocates have voiced outrage and disbelief as it emerged wait times for some Australian family reunion visas are now up to 56 years…
At Senate Estimates last week, a representative from Immigration and Visa Services confirmed the average wait times for various classes the visas…
Contributory parents, or those who can pay a $47,455 fee, need to wait on average 45 months.
But the average wait time for non-contributory parents is more than 30 years and “other family” is up to 56 years.
There are currently 49,983 non-contributory parent applications and 8,111 “other family” applications on hand…
Greens Senator Nick McKim, who brought up the wait times at Senate Estimates said 56 years “is a horrific number”.
“So is the wait period of over 30 for years non-contributory parents,” he told SBS News.
“Families are waiting years and in some cases many decades before they can be reunited to live together … The system is broken… what government should be doing is reunite as many families as possible”.
May I remind Senator McKim that the circa 9,000 permanent parental visas granted each year cost Australian taxpayers between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms, with the cost likely to rise over time as numbers increase. For this reason, the Productivity Commission’s (PC) 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia Report found that “the case for retaining parent visas in their current form is weak”:
“The contributory visa charge of just under $50 000 meets only a fraction of the fiscal costs for the annual intake of roughly 7200 contributory parents. And an additional 1500 parents make a minimal contribution. Overall, the cumulated lifetime fiscal costs (in net present value terms) of a parent visa holder in 2015-16 is estimated to be between $335 000 and $410 000 per adult, which ultimately must be met by the Australian community. On this basis, the net liability to the Australian community of providing assistance to these 8700 parents over their lifetime ranges between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms. Given that there is a new inflow each year, the accumulated taxpayer liabilities become very large over time. This is a high cost for a relatively small group.
Ultimately, every dollar spent on one social program must require either additional taxes or forgone government expenditure in other areas. It seems unlikely that parent visas meet the usual standards of proven need, in contrast to areas such as mental health, homelessness or, in the context of immigration, the support of immigrants through the humanitarian stream, and foreign aid.
Given the balance of the costs and benefits, the case for retaining parent visas in their current form is weak”.
The PC’s subsequent Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review also doubled-down against parental visas, claiming that their long-term costs to the Budget are immense:
… parent visas, which provide a short-term benefit to the budget via visa charge income, but impose very large costs in the longer term through their impacts on expenditure on health and aged care, and social transfers. In previous work, the Commission estimated the budgetary costs associated with the 2015-16 parent visa intake alone to be $2.88 billion in present value terms over the lifetimes of the visa holders. By comparison, the revenue collected from these visa holders was only $345 million. Ten year estimates of the fiscal effects of the current parent visas would show a similarly stark disjuncture between revenue and costs, and would therefore provide the insights for a more informed policy decision on the pricing or desirability of these visa types than the current decision-making framework.
As noted by the PC above, “every dollar spent on one social program must require either additional taxes or forgone government expenditure in other areas”.
Given the cost of approving the 49,983 non-contributory parent applications would likely cost taxpayers between $16.5 billion and $20 billion in present value terms (using the PC’s estimate), what social programs would the Greens like to see cut?
- Should we cut funding to schools and hospitals?
- Should we cut funding for infrastructure?
- Should we cut the Aged Pension and abandon raising Newstart?
- Should we cut funding to the NDIS?
The Greens clearly care more for the welfare of elderly citizens of other nations than Australian voters. Otherwise, why would they support such egregious fiscal vandalism?