Yesterday, we learned about the Greens’ ridiculous plan to import 200,000 elderly parents via the ‘Family stream’ of Australia’s permanent migration program.
Below is a breakdown of the Greens’ policy proposal, which you can read in full on its website:
- There are 200,000 parents of migrants ‘stranded’ overseas.
- Some migrant families have to wait 30 years to obtain a visa to bring their parents into Australia.
- The “system is grossly unfair and inequitable”, according to the Greens.
- The Greens want to “make this broken visa processing system faster, fairer and more affordable” and have initiated a Senate Inquiry to examine the issue.
The Greens’ policy proposal fails dismally on economic, budgetary and social equity grounds.
The Productivity Commission’s (PC) 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report estimated that the cost of the 7,000 to 9,000 parental visas issued each year at between $335 000 and $410 000 per adult in net present value terms. Accordingly, the PC recommended abolishing parental visas altogether:
“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”.
Based on the PC’s own estimated cost of between $335 000 and $410 000 per elderly adult, the cost to taxpayers from the Greens’ plan to import 200,000 elderly migrant parents would be between $67 billion and $82 billion in net present value terms – almost double the annual cost of the Aged Pension.
There is no magic pudding with public finances. The enormous cost of the Greens’ elderly parent visas would divert funding away from other social programs, including the Aged Pension, JobSeeker, the NDIS, and schools. It would also raise infrastructure and hospital costs, especially given the elderly are heavy users of the health system. It would effectively bankrupt Australia’s welfare state.
The Greens’ policy also contradicts the bogus claim that a strong immigration program is required to mitigate an ageing population. Instead, the Greens’ policy would dramatically age Australia’s population.
The fact of the matter is that the Greens’ policy would impose a massive burden of direct and indirect costs on the Australian community. It completely disregards the interests and well-being of existing citizens and taxpayers of this country in a shameless attempt to win favour with a relatively small number of migrants.
Those migrants chose to leave their families when they moved to Australia. They knew the deal when they made the decision to leave. They should not expect the Australian people to subsidise reuniting them with their families. Australia cannot afford to look after other countries’ older people when there are so many of our own citizens in need, be it the elderly, the homeless, the disabled or the unemployed.
The Greens’ policy breaches every principle of economic, social and environmental sustainability. It trashes the principle of inter-generational equity across the budget. It devalues the citizenship of Australians by subordinating their legitimate interests to those of the elderly in foreign nations. It abdicates every duty of care that any elected government has towards its people.
For these reasons it is done nowhere else in the world, by any other government, and frankly, the policy cements the Greens as Australia’s lunatic fringe.
Australian politicians’ number one priority should be to look after the welfare of its voting constituents (i.e. Australian citizens). The Greens’ parental visas policy contravenes this very principle.