Temporary visa holders given welfare support

With 2.3 million temporary visa holders residing in Australia, and many unable to work or travel home, the federal government will offer special welfare payments and visa extensions:

The Australian understands that welfare assistance may be available to temporary visa holders if they face significant financial hardship under the Special Benefit payment and the coronavirus supplement of $550.

Holders of temporary visas, including partner visas and temporary humanitarian visas, may also be eligible for the Special Benefit…

Migration Council Australia chief executive Carla Wilshire welcomed the government’s move… “However, as the full economic and social impact of COVID-19 unfolds, we need to start thinking about safeguards across all visa categories. We need to think about everyone who remains in our borders and we need to move quickly to look to ensure all people have a basic safety net — whether they are citizens, permanent residents or people on temporary or bridging visas.

“There is a need to grant an extension of six-12 months across all temporary visa categories to ensure people have a sense of security. People should not be worrying about whether they will become unlawful. There should also be emergency support and basic income payments made available for the many temporary visa holders that will lose their livelihoods.

“We might also need to look at the provision of temporary Medicare access to people on temporary visas who don’t currently have it as health insurance is often time- limited and some policies do not cover pandemics.”

Income support. Medicare access. Many of these visa holders are supposed to have the funds and health insurance to support themselves while in Australia.

I get it though. The last thing Australia needs is for desperate and homeless temporary migrants to be wandering the community and spreading the virus.

But this must be temporary assistance and must not become a backdoor entry to permanent residence. When the contagion is over, these visa extensions must expire and “temporary” migrants must return home.

With mass unemployment brewing, the last thing Australia needs is hordes of temporary migrants competing with locals for scarce jobs.

Leith van Onselen


    • Coup de Whiskey

      Over at SBS Punjabi they are complaining that they can’t move their aged parents to Australia now.
      They might not get good healthcare back home!

      • Pretty sure $550 per person will be enough to charter one of the grounded Virgin planes and get it to SEAsia/subcontinent, which is where the going is needful.

        • The CEO of Virgin has already offered the stood down international crews to the PM in any capacity.

          Sending temp residents home should be a priority. It reduces the population, the load on the health system, the welfare system and frees up jobs for the 100,000 people currently queuing outside Centrelink.

          It will also be cheaper to the gov to send them home than to have them on welfare for 6+ months.

    • Because they’re here to prop up our property market.

      Harry would not be pleased with his monkey, SloMo, if he decided to pack them off home.

    • They probably will be at some point, in body bags. Only 2500 ICU beds. Many will miss out.

    • The Traveling Wilbur

      You were warned.

      Funny thing is, it won’t take long for people generally to realise now is as good as time as any to stop paying rent. For 6 months or more. So all that secondary support through unentitled welfare is going straight to anywhere but Australian housing.

      I get a warm glow from that.

  1. SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

    now we have millions of useless, street pooing, brain dead people to look after, what a cluster fck this country

      • https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/chamber/hansards/1a9389a8-d618-42f0-835f-581c3ea13dd2/toc_pdf/Senate_2020_03_23_7655.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

        The Minister has the power in the legislation to extend it to temp visa holders. Senator Keneally was badgering Government all last night to make them use that power and extend it to temp visa holders.

        “So I encourage the government to use the power that, I anticipate, the Senate is about to provide to those
        opposite to consider how it can best support them from a public health perspective, because it is in the interests of
        all Australians that people living in the country, citizens or not, are able to access health testing, coronavirus
        testing and income support so they can self-isolate or continue to live at home, as we are directing them to do, if
        they are unable to work. I encourage the government to remember that it is in the interests of all Australians. A
        virus does not discriminate; it does not check your visa status before it infects you. If people are trapped here in
        this country, after 30 March in particular, it is in the interests of every single one of us in this country that every
        single one of us, citizen or not, has access to health care and income support if we are required to self-isolate.”

        • Nice work. Thank you.

          The virus’ rate of infection increases exponentially everyday and when a specific date like the 30th of March is mentioned, the question has to be asked “what’s happening on the 30th that the public don’t know is coming?”

          It looks like the gov have missed the opportunity to send the temp residents home, if for example, they are going to put the whole country into full home isolation mode on the 30th of March. There is simply not enough time for people to pack up their lives and get out in less than seven days.

          So if they are trapped here and can’t get out, even if they want too…. then I’d have to change my stance and say yes, we do have to feed and house temp residents. I’m not wild about it but it is the right thing to do.

    • Because resources have to be prioritised to look after temporary visitors. What do you not understand? It’s the way a caring and equitable society works.

      * strokes hipster beard ….. glows with virtue *

  2. I keep saying it. COAG has just decided Big Australia will continue 4eva. Any dip in net migration will be temporary.

  3. if they have worked in Australia they should have some Super in their accounts let them withdraw it now rather take it on the way back home.

      • Love in the time of Corona

        Lol x2. But their ponzi finance arrangements as described often by Mike will collapse. And the disease is not going to be kind in their close quarters.

  4. I managed to extract my daughter from SE Asia late last week just before all the flights stopped and borders closed. Much better to be back in Australia when the SHTF. She was travelling with a British friend who is now living here too. They are doing their 14 day self quarantine. I don’t give a sh1t about any govt payments, they can just stay here as long as required. I just want to be sure that her friend can get an extension on the 90 day visitor visa if required.

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      I’m cool with extensions until they can return. Unfortunately I foresee, in addition to the welfare payments and Medicare access becoming permanent (and it will – imagine the media sob stories incoming) another Bob Hawke Chinese student moment. A brief 2 million addition to our ‘skilled migrant’ intake which will not be offset by future years intake.

    • Goldstandard1MEMBER

      Why isn’t the British friend in Britain?
      Everyone should be in their own country at the time- ex pats aside.

    • billygoatMEMBER

      Ship everyone back to where they came from on temp and other BS visas children & students alike to UK US Europe ASia & Pacfic – everywhere. Let’s chips fall and what Australia is made of.

  5. TailorTrashMEMBER

    And the tens of thousands of “tourists” that melted into the workforce in the back kitchens of the nation ……bring them out for a handout too

  6. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    Gee whiz, I would have thought this huge pool of absolutely essential, high skilled labour would have been in jobs that were essential or at least high-paying enough that they wouldn’t need this sort of taxpayer funded largesse? Shouldn’t the large companies behind this huge pool of labour brought in to drive down Australian wages and conditions be paying for this? Oh no that’s right, the ATO data shows they usually pay zero tax. But the taxpayer can now pick up the tab for our own replacements. Well played.

  7. Anyone get a look at the composition of these lines at Centrelink by any chance? Maybe Mike has some stats?

    • I was surprised at just how European & young the one in Hurstville looked, to be honest, guess it’s because it’s those in service industry that have been hit first.

  8. Stewie GriffinMEMBER


    It would be cheaper to charter grounded QANTAS planes and send them home then leave them here and pay them welfare and risk clogging our own medical services.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      …and immediately suspend the powers of the AAT to prevent or appeal the enforcement all current rulings under emergency Virus Wartime powers.

      • “Can we not send the temporary residents home by chartered/Commercial flights rather than keeping them on welfare here and deduct the cost when they access their super. its astounding that this is coming from the party who refuses to increase Newstart/ Aged pension. is it not part of the visa conditions they should have enough funds to complete the studies here and mandatory to have medical insurance as well. Tried to keep my message short and precise since your time is valuable. ” Send this to Minister Tudges office

  9. Sent an email to my MP (who is also the PM haha). Asked why the budget will be blown out further for benefits when air fares are cheaper? Asked what guarantees will be in place that Aus citizens and voters will get first access to jobs? Asked what access to limited healthcare available will Aus citizens and voters get when needed?

    • Good!
      Should ask him where all the money her couldn’t find for new start a few weeks ago but can find for this is coming from. #homeeconomicsfordummies

    • You will be ignored. I asked my local face to face last polling day why we are in a proxy war with Russia in Syria a Nuclear armed power. He looked at his feet and refused to answer me. I told him I wouldn’t vote for him or any other candidate. Took my sausage and left.
      This crisis should bring home to all Aussies that the Politicians and ruling class don’t care if we die of the corona or of hunger and despare. Could not give a flying fig.

    • Twitter seems to be the only way to get things done

      A voracious tweet with an info graph or a humorous meme with a witty comment that would make Steven Colbert proud and you can change a nation.

      Or maybe make your mum and 5 followers chuckle

  10. Better idea is to give Qantas vouchers or similar for a one way ticket home. Non-transferable and that’s it.

    Carla Wilshire – another overfed, privileged white woman shilling for the death of the country. Her and Liz Allen. What a pair of kvnts.

  11. With unemployment rising for ACTUAL Australians how can we afford this nonsense?
    Send them all home. Subsidise Virgin and Qantas to run a few hundred jets around the region.
    My temper is itching over our tax dollars being spent on this rubbish.

  12. run to the hillsMEMBER

    Plenty of this lot with dodgy student visas earn big $$ in the vice industry, geez they’ll have a laugh if the government gives them cash handouts.

  13. Two houses in our estate, owned by Chinese, who were renovating, are now for sale! I don’t know how they can possibly sell in this market, but somethings triggered them to sell so suddenly, this is going to get ugly

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Someone on a tourist visa can apply for political asylum, and the bridging visa will be granted automatically.

  14. Unbelievable. What the hell are we doing in this country. With estimates of up to 2 million unemployed Australians in this crisis why are we handing out my tax dollars to these TEMPORARY visa holders. An orderly repatriation should have been the first option,

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Yes. I can still see on the live plane tracker sites that plenty of international flights are coming in and out of Australia and I’m sure they aren’t just all carrying cargo or ‘essential’ travellers. Seems there is plenty of capacity still airborne to shift thousands of these ‘temporary’ workers back home on a daily basis for the duration.

      • Yes, I just looked at mine and it has flights going from Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Hong and some coming the other way.

        Also a few private aircraft – Cessna’s etc, heading off to Indonesia.

  15. So we allowed the foreign students to come in, a serious vector for the virus to get hold in Australia, because ‘muh economy and student fees’, then universities subsidised their travel, and now we pay them out of OUR tax money to stay.
    What a great deal for REAL Australians.. NOT.

  16. My first thought was Judas Priest you wouldn’t read about it. Then I realised I was reading about it.

  17. Just wait till these temporary migrants get the ICU beds before locals. You haven’t seen the fabric of society disintegrate yet.

  18. Fishing72MEMBER

    If you loved this…..wait till the universities close and we are literally paying the students we never wanted to be here.

    Serious question : Can Australia sink any lower ?

  19. David WilsonMEMBER

    Well said.
    As unemployment will rise to over 10% we should look at cancellation of all non essential work visas when it is safe to return these people home. Time to put Australian’s first second and last.

  20. This country is a disgrace.

    Saddling the next generation with billions more in debt to give non-citizens $550 per week.

    Why have the right wingers spent the last 25 years humiliating and victimising actual unemployed Australians with a puny allowance and making them jump through pointless hoops when they are willing to dole out $550 per week to foreigners living here temporarily at a drop of a hat.

    Disgusting, despicable government.

  21. It is disgraceful to read these comments as a professional temporary resident living in Australia , working and contributing to Australian society , paying more taxes than an Australian during great part of my stay, without recieving Medicare , or any kind of benefit and who has paid thousands and thousands of dollars in visa payments and lawyers . These comments come from ignorance and racism , because only after a tiny bit of research you could understand how much Australia needs these temporary residents to sustain the economy , immigration is one of Australia’s biggest incomes, yes, those brainless immigrants are those funding your Centrelink allowance, I guess then you would happily agree with being a bit more human in a global critical situation . I would HAPPILY return home , where I am sure stranded foreigners have been supported, and where measures against coronavirus were taken way before Australia . I went to university , speak 3 languages , and can express myself much better than some of my Australian friends who have used Centrelink for years , instead of looking for a job .
    Please be mindful of your words . I am proud as an immigrant to be able to go through the adversity of the world , but I am not sure if the average Australian capable of writing such racist and unfortunate comments is . Would happily go back home , but are not able to , not because of the travel ban but because I am a responsible worker who took a commitment with a company . And I admire the humble people who leave their countries and do the ugly jobs that some Australians ( probably the ones making these shockingly unacceptable comments ) wouldn’t take . So let’s stop with the hypocrisy.

  22. Oh ! And by the way ! Australia taxes foreigners super contributions at a 65% rate when they extract it once the visa expires . That super paid by their employer, Australia keeps it. My sister recieved only $5000 from $15k when she finished her contract and went back home . Another measure , which shows how much these lazy foreigners cost Australia ! 10 grand straight to Centrelink and other welfare funds . So please be informed , Australia wouldn’t accept them , if it didn’t benefit them somehow . Just be a bit more inquisitive and you’ll see it clearly . Thank you

      • And I would, happily , if I could . And don’t worry . Not all of us are so stressed about getting help of the government . Some of us have our own resources, fruit of hardwork and education.

  23. Send the temporary graduate visa holders home….to China, the Punjab and Nepal and restore a bit of integrity to the visa system.

  24. Australia’s SECOND BIGGEST income after mining comes from visas. That would make Australia sink lower when this ends. This is thought as a temporary measure that has not even taken place. I am sure Australia wants to continue to attract international students to still come here, and show humanity until a situation that affects the global community. And also to avoid a social crisis, which could be much worse . Do you want the people on temporary visas (students, partners, sponsored skilled workers) without jobs who paid thousands to for their visas, to be starving if this lasts more than a month? Please inform yourselves , no other country charges as much as Australia when it comes to visas. Nobody without a decent income and decent education can come to Australia on a student visa, it is IMPOSSIBLE . Without work and holiday makers the farmer industry GOES DOWN. No more fruit in your supermarkets shelves.
    Stop making comments , and inform yourselves. Such a shame to see this from a country MADE OF IMMIGRANTS. A bit of memory people. You are not from here either , and I know for certain this is not most of Australia . This country is made of civilized, tolerant, hardworking people . Show a bit of humanity especially when these immigrants, mean resources to your country . I refuse to think that Australia is made of welfare-dependant racist slackers . Such a shame to see these comments.

    • I don’t think that anyone here begrudges help to foreigners who are genuinely stranded in Australia, but it is a different story if the various sorts of temporary migrants really could be sent home rather than drawing on welfare support. There are genuine benefits to the host population from a moderate level of immigration, and there are very talented people who would be an asset anywhere. What many of us dispute is that there are benefits to the average person from the mass migration that we have been having since 2000, with close to the highest rate of population growth in the developed world, higher than many much poorer countries.

      The top few percent of Australians certainly benefit: a bigger aggregate GDP giving them more to skim, effortless profits from real estate speculation as they boost demand while restricting supply, and a cheap, compliant work force that they don’t have to train. Most other people just get stagnant wages, reduced opportunity, massive congestion, enormously inflated housing costs, and overloaded infrastructure and public services. The cost of an average house has gone from 3-4 years of the median wage to more than 12 in Sydney. We have dropped from 12 hospital beds per thousand to 3.8.


      Our elite are mining the value of our citizenship. Australians would be quite capable of filling the roles that you think only migrants can. (Who is racist here?) According to the 2006 Productivity Commission Report on Immigration, the mass migration only produces a very small increase in GDP per capita, which essentially goes to the owners of capital and the migrants themselves. Most people are worse off, because their wages increase more slowly than would otherwise be the case. Australians don’t resent you because of race, but because you represent more competition for jobs, housing, public services, and amenities.

  25. Thanks you for sharing your reasons respectfully .
    I completely understand all the consequences and agree with the fact that it all benefits just a few, that is the system we live in globally, it is a very deep issue . This is not the fault of immigrants, students, skilled workers or foreigners that moved here for different reasons, and who actually do contribute to GDP, by paying considerable amounts on visas , we are talking about a pretty big business here that brings lots of jobs ( lawyers, migration agents , immigration officers , etc ) plus the payment of thousands , not hundreds , of dollars for just the visa.
    I agree 100% with the fact that there should be clear conditions for temporary residents to access to this aid and that it should strictly be a temporary measure , only to go through this exceptional moment and not anymore than that. It is for humanitarian reasons on an unprecedented crisis, to avoid any social disruption. To me is common sense . You don’t want desperate people on the streets. 2.5 million ,10% of the population .
    While replying to this , I spoke with a close Australian friend who is a chef and lost his job in Spain due to COVID-19. He told me he is currently recieving 70% of his wages which are paid by the Spanish government, not a resident , not a citizen , just a man on a working visa. I mention this because I feel it is important to see it from the other side , how would you like it to be if you are the one stranded overseas?
    Australia has plenty of work available, compared to all the countries I lived in, I ve never seen as much offer as here . There is a world of possibilities to get educated , jobs are well paid , however there are still people who have no jobs. Please excuse my ignorance on this but I still can’t understand . How is it possible that a foreigner who does not speak native English means competition . There are SO MANY programs for skilled workers to migrate to Australia , seems like manpower is desperately needed in certain areas , however , some Australians are still unemployed . I don’t get it .

    I highly value a respectful debate without generalisation towards immigrants . The comments I’ve seen in this article are highly offensive and you can easily understand which immigrants they are discriminating with comments of these sort, mocking about names, and using stereotypes , basically being racist. To subsist in Australia as an immigrant you need to work. And I insist by observing reality not being racist , that these immigrants they make fun of, have jobs that are usually not pleasent , far away from home , immersed in a different culture and exposed to discrimination . To me they are admirable. Their work is worthy as any other, maybe even more .
    Instead of sitting at home living from a government allowance and complaining about being unemployed. I know healthy, capable, young Australians with so much potential doing this, and I cannot understand it. They want work but they are picky . Cause they have options. One of them , welfare. I find that damaging towards society and generations to come.
    I have also seen this in Scandinavia , where I lived for 3 years . Both very developed parts of the world with a thriving economy , amazing life quality and opportunities . However , lots of citizens unemployed and lots of immigrants doing the dirty jobs .
    Australia to me is a country where everything is meritory and I believe that those who work hard achieve what they want to achieve , those who want to have a laidback lifestyle also can , that is freedom . But other people are just lazy , and that’s the human being . If prices got inflated and property increased its value, I relate it to the factors you mention but also to a global tendency , to me this is capitalism reaching its limit. Not immigrants .

    In my opinion, every person who works in this society is valuable , does not
    Matter how much they contribute to the GDP as we are all interconnected and the coronavirus crisis has put this on evidence very clearly , we all contribute .

    Just wonder if all the people doing these horrible comments , understand that Australia is one of the most selective governments when it comes to immigration, getting a visa is not only expensive but extremely hard to qualify, especially coming from non developed countries . So why the worry ? People can’t easily migrate to Australia without education and resources , because there are strict filters . To qualify to a simple work and holiday being South American , an essential requirement is to have 3 completed years of University and a pretty generous bank account . To me this is called selective qualified migration .

    Lastly, mobilising 2.5 million people out of Australia instead of supporting them while going through this health crisis, is much more complex and expensive that providing support while on lockdown. And it is definitely not a priority, even less a cheap fix .
    This took us all by surprise and showed as how nobody is safer than anyone else , does not matter where you come from . This affects us all . The virus makes no discrimination, and somehow all of a the flaws of capitalism’s excesses have never been more obvious. Coronavirus was a big slap on the face to show us how fragile our system is and how vulnerable we are as humans , nationalities aside.