In its 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report, the Productivity Commission (PC) estimated that the circa 9,000 elderly permanent parental visas granted every year cost Australian taxpayers between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms, or between $335 000 and $410 000 per elderly adult, with the cost rising over time as numbers increase. The PC also explicitly recommended that parental visas be abolished, noting that they divert scarce funding away from Australia’s broader welfare system:
“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 exorbitant budgetary costs of these parental visas are easy to comprehend. These migrants will necessarily be heavy users of the health and social services system (due to their old age), requiring funding by Australian taxpayers. Even if they have private health insurance, they will require cross-subsidisation from other members, thus helping to lift premiums. They will also use all manner of publicly-funded infrastructure.
With this background in mind, the Daily Telegraph has published a sob story about a 98 year old grandmother from India that has been refused a parental visa and risks being sent home because the federal government does not want to continue funding her in home care at a cost of $50,900 a year:
A 98 year-old woman is desperately fighting against being deported back to India after the Australian government decided that paying for a carer to tend to her for 15 hours a week was too expensive.
Esmeralda Rosario is now facing spending her 99th birthday alone with no family in Goa India after 12 years in Australia because the Home Affairs department refused her Aged Parent Visa application in November last year.
The mother of two and grandmother of four arrived in Australia in July 2007 on a tourist visa, and received an indefinite bridging visa in 2008 while her Aged Parent visa was being processed…
An appeal hearing will take place this Tuesday before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, where Mrs Rosario’s ‘heartbroken’ family will fight desperately to allow their grandmother and mother to stay in Australia…
Son-in-law Godwin D’Silva said that the family were ‘horrified’ at the prospect of sending his wife’s ‘frail’ mother back to her hometown of Goa in India, where she has no friends or relatives to take care of her.
“When she first arrived here we decided to apply for her Aged Parent visa because she was getting old and frail and we wanted to keep her here and care for her,” Mr D’Silva said…
Ms Rosario is a recipient of a $50,990 home care package through the government’s MyAgedCare program. Her daughter Marie Rita D’Silva said that $50,990 of annual funding gives the 98 year-old at-home care from a nurse three times a week in five hour blocks while her Australian family members earn a living.
“She’s old and tired I’m just looking for little support, we just need a little extra help when we’re at work,” Mrs D’Silva said…
“My family came to Australia in 1999, we’ve never been without a job, we’re all taxpayers,” Mr D’Silva said.
“(Mrs Rosario) has done nothing wrong in this world. She’s shown nothing but care and compassion throughout her life. She needs to be with us.”
This family are economic migrants. They chose to come to Australia under their own free will. There should never have been the expectation that they could bring their elderly parent along for the ride at taxpayers’ expense.
They chose to be separated from their mother when they came to Australia in the first place.
There is no magic pudding when it comes to public finances, and the massive fiscal cost of parental visas necessarily diverts funding away from other social programs, such as:
- funding for schools and hospitals;
- funding for infrastructure;
- funding for the Aged Pension and Newstart; and
- funding for the NDIS.
The fiscal cost of these visas is already enormous and growing, and poses a threat to Australia’s welfare state as we know it.
They also obliterate the false claim that a strong migration program is needed to mitigate an ageing population. Instead, they add to the problem.
In short, parental visas must be abolished, as explicitly recommended by the PC.