Rush on for elderly parent visas

The latest Intergenerational Report (IGR) from the Australian Treasury warned incessantly that Australia faces an ageing population timebomb in the decades ahead that will slow economic growth and derail the federal budget’s return to surplus.

Given the Treasury’s bluster over an ageing population, it is hard to believe that policy makers still allow migrant Australians to import around 9,000 elderly parents into Australia each year via the permanent parental visa program. Doing so immediately ages Australia’s population while adding directly to the burden on economic and social infrastructure that has been paid for by other Australians.

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”.

With this background in mind, it is disturbing to read that an increasing number of Indian-Australians are attempting to bring their parents into Australia via the parental visa program:

Data obtained from the Department of Home Affairs by SBS Hindi indicates a steady increase in the number of parent visa applications lodged by the Indian-Australian community over the past three years.

Over the period January-May 2021, Indian nationals lodged 1,362 parent visa applications as compared to 1,049 in the similar period of 2020.

The same figure during January-May 2019 stood at 662 and at 671 lodgements in Jan-May 2018…

Gold Coast-based migration agent Seema Chauhan told SBS Hindi she has seen a significant increase in enquiries about permanent residency for parents in the last few months and the lodgements of parent visa applications have shot up after COVID-19.

It is only natural for economic migrants to want their parents and family to come and live with them in Australia. But they chose to come to here under their own free will. There should never have been the expectation that they could bring their elderly parents along for the ride at taxpayers’ expense.

These economic migrants chose to be separated from their parents 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.

These visas also obliterate the false claim in the IGR that a strong migration program is needed to mitigate an ageing population. Instead, these visas directly add to the problem.

In short, parental visas must be abolished, as explicitly recommended by the PC. There is simply no public policy justification to maintain these visas.

Unconventional Economist


  1. Now look, if you are too r____alist to understand the enormous value of 4th generation Anglo Australian locals being educated about how despicable they are by receiving a constant onslaught of Indian Granny Death Stares™ at every turn, then there is no hope of you ever understanding how importing these elderly migrants makes perfect sense. They should be paid for the public service they provide to the community!

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      The justification is easy with a virtuous circle model – (feedback loop benefits !)
      1) these extra billions of costs on hospitals and aged care justify a further increase in youthful skilled migration as the ageing population is increased further.
      The next suggestion raised now is double “un”skilled migration to make up for the lost COVID years.

      2) And immigrants will be able to be offered to be paid a lower wage, as they will receive the massive bonus of PR, and parental subsidies.

      • Of course, all of it. Due to a broken upper arm which necessitates sitting whilst sleeping and loads of painkillers carefully monitored plus X-rays as break hopefully self aligns while no splint, not pins, just lose bone ends in danger of slipping apart, I saw how crowded The Alfred was and their need to put me elsewhere for the weeks until it was safe to release, they struggled to find alternative place even paying private where I ended up in a hellhole but with a highly recommended bone trauma specialist the Alfred team knew well. Then a specialist appointment at the hospital..crowded. 7 years ago it was not at all. That hospital is really pushed. I am strongly against importing parents, we really cannot afford their upkeep and from above observation we are full up. Sustainable population is 23 million max and that means everyone including tourists with a foot on Aus.


    Australia’s destiny is ‘India 2.0’- that has been decided long ago.

    “Australia’s Indian diaspora numbers approximately 700,000, and Indians are expected to outnumber Chinese-born Australians over the next decade. Significantly, it is the second-highest taxpaying diaspora after the British, making it clear that it is a group making significant contributions to Australia’s economy.”

    Without the Indian mega-immigration that is expected to last for many years, our economy would sink like a stone. The last 25 years have been just a prelude and it appears there will be no other pathway.

  3. Those with long memories will recall Shorten’s “Chinese Grannies” own-goal of the 2019 election. Of course the Indian Grannies should come too, to deny them would be racist, or perhaps it’s illegal at the United Nations.

    COVID highlights the fact that Immigration is corrupt, routinely putting immigration interests ahead of Australian interests. According to Conversation, top three groups scamming the “travel exemptions” are Indian, Chinese and UK origin.

  4. with indian and sub continent immigrants growing as a portion of the overwhelmingly ‘brown man’ immigration program, it’s to be expected the demand for elderly parent visas will rise …as well as other migration demands.

    answer is to slash the mass immigration program to 50,000 net overseas migration and alter the mix back to a european intake
    we urgently need a Great Orator

  5. To be fair, our system is considerably more rational than that of the USA. These visas come with a charge of about $70k (correct me if I’m wrong), which at least partially defrays the ongoing cost of health care. In the USA, an elderly parent can be brought in and will qualify for free medical care despite never having worked a day or paid a penny in taxes, at the same time that home-grown people of working age are being denied health care.

    • Yogiman, just because the US has a very flawed approach to this doesn’t mean that our existing policy makes sense. All new immigrants should be told clearly and explicitly before being granted permanent residence or citizenship (and have to sign a document acknowledging this) that this does not entitle them to sponsor relatives, including parents. That way they can make an informed choice as to whether to take up the opportunity Australia offers. If we are to let some elderly parents in then the financial contribution required should more closely match the actual cost to the community so that Australian welfare recipients aren’t effectively disadvantaged.

  6. I find the gaslighting that occurs wrt our migration programs in Australia to be quite detrimental to my mental health at times. It’s a form of low level trauma inflicted on me by my ‘betters’ that honestly I could do without. Combine it with the whinging and unrealistic expectations (of both the migration process and what they deserve to get from Australia) from certain segments of some migrant groups who do not have the fortitude and grit of previous migrant groups or the refugees we currently accept, and it just makes me recoil in horror and rage. And derision too. Let’s not forget that because I feel lots of that. Migration is a bloody painful process and it lasts for decades. It is not something to be undertaken lightly but when migration is voluntary it should be done under the ruthless and harsh light of cold, hard reality and lots of worst case scenario planning. But little Johnnie introduced Migration agents into the mix and they tell such wonderful fairy tales and we pay the price with people lobbing on our shores with unrealistic expectations and Australia (esp the land) has never treated the unrealistic or unprepared kindly.

    • hmm…. sounds like a clear case of “white rage” (if you’re not white, then your exposure to a primarily causation society and the structural racism/white supremacy that every facet of that society is based on has clearly infected your perception of reality, rendering you a both a victim of white supremacy and a perpetrator/apologist for it…. much like rape victim turned rapist).

      Also, probably best not to post such things on pubic forums if you intend to travel abroad, while the little ideological gem that follows is yet to take hold down under, according to US govt officials, admitting to the thoughts you have above places you at high risk of becoming a domestic terrorist (the “No.1 threat to the US today”…. good thing they can stop bombing foreign brown people now hey!)

      Had you have posted it on social media, it would likely be removed, you would be reprimanded and anyone who viewed that post would be sent an alert, warning them that they have been exposed to ‘extremist content’ followed by another message asking them if the ‘know of anyone at risk of becoming an extremist’. Hopefully the post did not catch the attention of any activists / good citizens among your contact group or your contact groups contact group, if it did, you should also anticipate potential social, employment and financial consequences for declaring such a view in public (if you were in the UK or multiple EU jurisdictions, it’s also possible you have committed a criminal offense).

      The fact that the above is not satire should also induce horror and rage….

        • Now that’s a good coloniser, if you’re serious about changing your ways please feel free to draft a grovelling apology / self flagellating reflection that I’m happy to review (please ensure it contains at least one reference to “your leaning journey” and/or that you are taking time to “reflect and listen”).

          You should also consider payment of repatriations to any one of the fine upstanding social activist groups. Feel free to #humble brag about any payment made via your preferred social media network as it may encourage more members of your clan/terrorist cell to consider reprogramming.

      • Oh Thank DOG for PC police such as BB_AU Big 22_22 back at ya:) Thanks for taking the time to police comments. It’s great that you identify clear lines of radical thought. We are not all blessed with your know ledge & tolerance capacity. Dog Bless Brother:)) I disagree entirely with each & every word pop cod typed in his rac __islist comment. It’s a disgrace and if you hadn’t pointed out how wrong popcods comment was I would inadvertently agreed with it. Praise be Brother. & thanks for clearly identifying your sons of Mary affiliations..yours truly a thought impaired rashalist

        • Carrying out ones civic duty is but a token step towards atoning for the sins of my racial heritage. No praise necessary comrade.

        • TailorTrashMEMBER

          Don’t shoot the messenger …..

          .and we all know Poppy is a threat . I mean she is now ensconced in a rural Victorian village inciting the local CWA to bake more Lamingtons …..there is something very dangerous about that …..English sponge cake dipped in chocolate and covered in white coconut …..surely that has to be wrong …well as soon as some one does a PhD that shows it so then it will be

  7. There’s only one problem to solve the long-term demographics issue and that is greater longevity and a greater health-span. Basically, curing ageing. It looks like that might be just around the corner. And if it is, then mass immigration is no longer necessary. Especially if robotics take away a lot of the low skilled work, which also looks increasingly likely.

  8. Mic SmithMEMBER

    I agree and the ALP wanted to open the floodgates on these visa. A disgraceful way to try and buy votes.

  9. Labor’s policy is for uncapped long-term temporary migrant visas which will most likely end in permanent stays.