Thursday, 9 March 2023
Migration Amendment (Australia's Engagement in the Pacific and Other Measures) Bill 2023, Migration (Visa Pre-application Process) Charge Bill 2023; Second Reading
Tim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Trade) Share this | Hansard source
That these bills be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.
The speeches read as follows—
MIGRATION AMENDMENT (AUSTRALIA'S ENGAGEMENT IN THE PACIFIC AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2023
The Migration Amendment (Australia's Engagement in the Pacific and Other Measures) Bill 2023 amends the Migration Act 1958 to establish the legislative power and framework to conduct a ballot—a 'visa pre-application process'—for specified visa programs.
This Bill is a necessary first step in delivering on the Government's commitment to establish the Pacific Engagement Visa from July 2023, to boost Pacific permanent migration to Australia and build a stronger Pacific family.
Boosting Pacific permanent migration to Australia is an essential part of the Government's plan to build a stronger Pacific family and strengthen Australia's ties with the Pacific.
An increase in permanent migration through the new Pacific Engagement Visa program will boost Australia's people to people links across the Pacific family, and strengthen country to country ties.
The Pacific Engagement Visa will provide opportunities for skills exchange and contribute to Pacific home economies through remittances and investments. It will also support wider mobility within the region and grow Australia's Pacific diaspora.
The Bill will provide the Government with the legislative framework needed to implement and operate a ballot for the Pacific Engagement Visa, for eligible nationals of participating Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.
Each year, the Pacific Engagement Visa program will provide up to 3,000 permanent places to citizens of the Pacific and Timor-Leste to settle in Australia as permanent residents. Eligible participants will be randomly selected through a visa pre-application ballot process and then given the opportunity to apply with their dependent family for a permanent Pacific Engagement Visa.
Currently, Australia does not have a dedicated permanent residence pathway for nationals of Pacific Island Countries and Timor-Leste. Contingent on the passage of all associated bills, including the Migration (Visa Pre-application Process) Charge Bill 2023, the Pacific Engagement Visa would be provided for through amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994, to commence in July 2023. The Pacific Engagement Visa program will be open to nationals of participating Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, who have drawn a place in the visa pre-application process.
Places available for skilled migrants under Australia's annual migration program will not be impacted by the introduction of the Pacific Engagement Visa. To encourage permanent migration from the Pacific, without jeopardising Australia's existing permanent visa pathways, the annual allocation of 3,000 places for the Pacific Engagement Visa program is in addition to Australia's overall annual permanent migration program intake.
Pacific Engagement Visa holders will be permanent residents and, like other permanent residents in Australia, these visa holders can live, work, and study anywhere in Australia, which will support local economies and contribute to communities throughout the country.
The ballot process could also be used in the future by Australia's other temporary and permanent migration programs to promote equitable and fair access, specifically for those programs where the number of prospective applicants may exceed available places, and where it is otherwise appropriate to do so.
This Bill, together with the Migration (Visa Pre-application Process) Charge Bill 2023 and the anticipated permanent Pacific Engagement Visa will deliver on the Government's commitment to secure our region and build a stronger Pacific Family.
These reforms demonstrate to the Australian community, and to our Pacific family, that stronger Pacific partnerships focused on shared needs and priorities are in Australia's national interest, and support stability, prosperity and security in our region.
I commend this bill to the Chamber.
MIGRATION (VISA PRE-APPLICATION PROCESS) CHARGE BILL 2023
The Migration (Visa Pre-application Process) Charge Bill 2023 introduces legislation to impose a nominal charge on registered participants in a visa pre-application process, administered by the Department of Home Affairs.
This Bill complements and supports the amendments in the Migration Amendment (Australia's Engagement in the Pacific and Other Measures) Bill 2023, which makes amendments to the Migration Act 1958 to introduce a visa pre-application process (a ballot).
This Bill allows for regulations to be made to prescribe an amount in Australian dollars that can be imposed on a person registering in a visa pre-application process, which can be nil up to a maximum charge of AUD100, with the ability to prescribe different amounts for different visa pre-application processes, and for different classes of persons.
For the Pacific Engagement Visa ballot, this will be a nominal registration charge of $25. Regulations prescribing a charge would be disallowable by the Parliament.
The Migration Amendment (Australia's Engagement in the Pacific and Other Measures) Bill 2023 provides that any visa pre-application process charge is to be paid at the time of registration and establishes that the regulations may make provisions for remissions, refunds and waivers of, and exemptions to, the charge.
A bill to impose a charge to register in a visa pre-application process is necessary to ensure the ballot does not attract non-genuine participants and preserves the opportunity for genuine participants who intend to apply for the relevant visa should they be successful in the ballot draw.
Subject to the passage of this Bill and the prerequisite Migration Amendment (Australia's Engagement in the Pacific and Other Measures) Bill 2023, consequential amendments will be made to the Migration Regulations 1994 to create a new Pacific Engagement Visa subclass.
This package of legislative reforms delivers on the Government's commitment to establish a new permanent Pacific Engagement Visa program to boost Pacific permanent migration to Australia, secure our region and build a stronger Pacific Family.
I commend this bill to the Chamber.