Conflict-of-interests mire Coalition’s visa privatisation

The planned privatisation of Australia’s visa system has been delayed until next year after a web of conflict-of-interests were discovered across the Morrison Government:

The tender bid, managed by the department, is now at arm’s length from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Immigration Minister David Coleman because of their long personal and professional relationships with Scott Briggs, who is leading the Australian Visa Processing consortium…

Mr Briggs, a former NSW Liberal deputy state director, was closely linked to Mr Morrison’s leadership bid against Mr Dutton in August last year and was a former colleague of Mr Coleman at Nine Entertainment Co…

Senior government sources have conceded the government will “cop some flack” should the bid led by Mr Briggs be successful, but have stressed the decision will be “truly independently made”…

Adding to the political conflicts, opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally’s husband, Ben, is employed by Boston Consulting Group, which is advising the department on process.

Conflicts or not, privatising Australia’s visa processing is unambiguously bad policy.

Visa processing is an essential government service and a natural monopoly. Its sale will inevitably result in end-users being gouged by the new monopoly private owners, as well as a reduction in transparency.

The first assistant secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Andrew Kefford, recently boasted that visa privatisation is the “most significant reform to the Australian immigration system in more than 30 years”, and claimed it would make the “visa business” profitable by including “premium services for high-value applicants”, while providing “commercial value-added services”.

In other words, the Morrison Government would effectively make Australia’s visa system ‘pay to win’ and a profit-based. This is exactly what has happened in the United Kingdom, which privatised its visa processing in 2014 with disastrous results (see here and here).

Adding a profit motive and turning the visa system into a quantity-based “pay to win” business will also eliminate what little integrity there is left, and risks Australia losing complete control of migration numbers.

At a minimum, visa privatisation first be submitted for independent review by the ACCC, the Australian National Audit Office, and/or the Productivity Commission before coming into force. To do otherwise would be policy treason.

This whole plan is Game of Mates writ large.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Immigration and national defence are like the only two things that the fed mandate actually should comprise. This is institutional insanity.

    • Corruption taking place in front of our very eyes while a supine populace vegetates in front another episode of The Block, one digit up their nostril and the other digit up their …

  2. The government has been handed £1.6bn by applicants looking to visit, study or be reunited with their families since its 2014 contract with VFS – a nine-fold increase on the five years before

    I do not see the problem. “skilled” immigrants on $10/hour have to pay more to come over? Good.

    • Do you see a problem with tens of thousands of extra’s being let in through back door means by the private operators? More people = more profit. they aren;t going to say no.

      • A bit like private prisons in the United States – the lobby group that represents them is constantly lobbying for more categories of criminal offence and longer sentences! They need more ‘customers’ to make more profits. The mind boggles.

        Therefore, on a per capita basis the US has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world, including China. Which is quite something.

      • I am not sure that the immigration rate will go up due to visa privatisation.

        There are already 2 million foreign workers here thanks to the fake Greens and they want to import another 456 million.

        At least with visa privatisation, the “skilled” immigrants will have to pay more than they do now.

        • I’ve no idea why you want to invoke the memory of The Greens, fake or otherwise.
          That bunch of losers has never been in power, and never will be.
          The last time they had any relevance was when they combined with the Abbott Opposition to defeat the CPRS and the Malaysian Solution (which would have stopped the boats, which is why they had to stop the legislation).

          No, the current immigration schemozzle (with millions of foreign workers) belongs to the LNP Gov’t.
          And you can guarantee they want to keep on allowing in the plane loads of fake asylum seekers because their donors like them. They undercut our wages.
          The visa privatisation will just make the problem more obscure.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      That already exists, it is called the Significant Investor Visa Class. You only need to pony up $5mil which is what they would spend on a family home here anyway. There are a few in our street, all of them criminals, who are on that Visa. This is my inside info from the better half who has contacts in the industry. Evidently one of them got too greedy and went back to China to grab more ill gotten gains and is currently stuck there under house arrest. These are the people who we are ushering into our formerly great nation and selling off our premium suburbs to. Scumbag money launderers. If they had better English they’d be in parliament with Gladys Liu

  3. John Howards Bowling Coach

    This whole sector is already so compromised that any type of privatisation will be an instant disaster, and likely end up in the hands of either a foreign owned business and/or one of the big 4 or consultancy giants like Accenture. Walk around Sydney Airport and you can see full sized poster ads in the baggage collection for Visa service companies, the Migration function has become a for-profit industry in Australia already. It is a damn disgrace and almost entirely run by recent arrivals feeding off their own kind.

  4. The BystanderMEMBER

    I’m sure getting a yes-man from the Department to ‘independently’ assess the tender will absolutely result in a fair process, with no influence whatsoever from the PM and Minister at all…

  5. Why is there not a single story on the ABC news website about this attempt at such an enormous treasonous & corrupt act by our federal government ??!! FFS

  6. Rorke's DriftMEMBER

    I only opened this article because I couldn’t believe the headline “visa privatisation”. Makes no sense. This country is slipping away from its citizens. Perhaps already too far gone, with no mechanism to democratically change the course the major parties are taking us.

  7. The whole matter of Aus Visa privitisation is insane . You have players both sides of politics having their families financial interests involved and NOT by accident . So all political players benefit in order to get the legislation for this ridiculous privitisation through the Morrison Govt shares the loot! Aussies have the audacity to point the bone at third world countries for outrageous corruption and here it is yet again front and centre in Aus – a pig dressed up as debutant

    • Just because Ben Keneally is employed by Boston Consulting Group is not a reason to assume he will benefit in any way from the Group advising a gov’t dep’t (unless you have more info than is in the article).
      But LNP donors will benefit for sure.
      Credit to where it is due

      • Hi MaudeLynne. Thank you for your response to my comment . I don’t know if you are yourself or your spouse a PS or Politically active but to claim innocence until proven guilty in the public arena for pollies or their parties isn’t Realpolitik now is it?. It’s perception. Ms. Kenneally would have been smarter to choose amongst a constellation of competitive firms other than Boston Consulting where her husband would likely benefit . A “reasonable man” test of common sense would back me. To suggest they are the best as the reason is really insulting to the voters . By the way I really like Me Keneally . One of the smarter pollies amongst a bad lot.
        .We have cabinet rank pollies Federally making multi Billion decisions then going to work upon resignation from Parliament for the same conglomerate 1 week after they took a break in Hawaii . This is 3rd world crap. Not even subtle . Least these pollies could be a little quiet about it. Just to in your face . Like 8 don’t give a damn what the peasants/ shepple think . Pleaze.