Thursday, 14 May 2020
Temporary Visa Holders
Before moving general business notice of motion No. 573, I wish to inform the chamber that Senator McKim will also sponsor the motion. I, and also of behalf of Senator McKim, move:
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges that many thousands of temporary visa holders in Australia have lost jobs or experienced a substantial loss of income in recent weeks due to the Covid-19 crisis and have no Commonwealth safety-net to assist them;
(i) according to Government figures, there are 2.17 million people presently in Australia on a temporary visa,
(ii) temporary visa holders contribute significantly to the Australian economy,
(iii) while some temporary visa holders have returned home to see out the pandemic, there are others for whom this has been impossible or unfeasible due to financial constraints and flight cancellations, or because they are asylum seekers on bridging visas, and
(iv) temporary visa holders are an important part of our economy and society, for example, there are over 8,000 skilled medical professionals on temporary visas supporting our health system right now; and
(c) further notes that temporary skilled visa holders do not have access to the new JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, even though employers may be anxious to retain them;
(d) commends State and Territory governments for filling in some of the gaps left by the Federal Government regarding temporary visa holders with their own initiatives including additional support for international students and emergency financial grants; and
(e) calls on the Government to extend JobKeeper and JobSeeker to temporary migrants who are unable to return home in these extraordinary times.
The government's $130 billion JobKeeper program provides unprecedented support to millions of Australians. Eligibility has been focused on maximising the reach of the JobKeeper program while ensuring the program is able to be implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible while remaining sustainable. There is and always has been an expectation that temporary visitors to this country can look after themselves while they're here. The government has announced changes which will see most temporary visa holders with work rights able to access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation to help them support themselves in this crisis. This includes students who have been here for more than a year, working holidaymakers and school visa holders. The government has also announced a $200 million boost to community services to expand support to people who may need it.
I seek leave to move an amendment to general business notice of motion No. 573 moved by Senator Griff.
At the request of Senator Keneally, I move:
Omit paragraph (e), substitute:
(e) calls on the Government to extend JobKeeper or provide a financial relief package to temporary migrants who are unable to return home in these extraordinary times.