Golden visas axed. Now ban parental visas


On Monday, we reported that the Albanese government has paused all applications for the Significant Investor or “Golden Visa” program.

Thousands of these visas have been granted since 2012, with 85% of successful applicants coming from China, according to government data.

In a December policy paper, Labor declared that it would axe Golden Visas, shifting focus instead to granting more visas for “skilled migrants” capable of “making outsized contributions to Australia”.

“It has been obvious for years that this visa is not delivering what our country and economy needs”, Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said in a statement on Monday.


The program has also come under fire for suspected “loopholes” and “vulnerabilities”.

Indeed, the Productivity Commission determined that Golden Visas were little more than a money laundering scheme:

“Because there are no English-language requirements for the Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa, and no upper age limits, it is likely that these immigrants will generate less favourable social impacts than other immigrants”.


“Further, compared to other visa streams, investor visas are prone to misuse and fraud. Concerns about visa fraud played a part in the Canadian Government’s decision in 2014 to scrap its investor visa scheme”…

“There is a risk that SIV and PIV might be used as a pathway for investing ‘dirty money’ in Australia, an issue that has been raised for other similar schemes.”

“The case for retaining the Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa streams is weak and the Government should abolish these visas”.

While axing Golden Visas is obviously a sound decision, Labor should also abolish parental visas, which confer an enormous cost to the federal budget, worsen skills shortages, and contribute directly to population ageing.

Peter Strachan tweet

The Productivity Commission years ago estimated that the cost of the 7,000 to 9,000 parental visas issued each year is between $335 000 and $410 000 per adult in net present value terms, and warned that these visas divert scarce taxpayer funding from other government programs:

“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”.


“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”.

The ABC likewise reported last year that “Treasury estimates that each parent permanent migrant costs $393,000”.

The ABC also said there were “27,692 new parent visa applications lodged between May 2022 and May this year, taking the backlog across the seven subclasses to 138,508 as at the end of May”.

Therefore, the federal budget would be in the hole by around $54 billion if all of these parent visas were granted!

An individual’s largest health-care costs typically occur in the final years of life.


Thus, importing elderly parents who have contributed nothing to Australia is insane.

There is no magic pudding in Australian fiscal policy. Parental visas are a massive fiscal sinkhole that diverts cash from other social and economic programs, including funding for schools, hospitals, the Aged Pension, JobSeeker, the NDIS, and infrastructure.

The financial cost of parental visas is already enormous and growing, endangering Australia’s welfare system.


Parental visas also make a mockery of the bogus claim that a robust immigration program is required to address an ageing population. Instead, these visas compound the ageing issue.

The Albanese government should axe parental visas immediately.

Just because someone comes to Australia as an economic migrant does not entitle them to bring their parents along for the ride at taxpayers’ expense.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.