A proposal to put a price tag on anyone migrating to Australia drew flak from the Gippsland Multicultural Services, which described the move as an “appalling idea.”
GMS director Lisa Sinha said she was horrified to learn of the Productivity Commission’s proposal to sell the right to migrate to the country and do away with the current system of welcoming migrants based on their skills or family connections.
The commission, which is expected to issue its final report in March next year, proposed to introduce the price-based immigration system in a bid to address the budget deficit and enable the government to cut the number of public servants manning Australia’s immigration department.
Ms Sinha said it was unfair to blame migrants for Australia’s budget deficit.
She said studies showed they added value to the economy by increasing demands for services and goods.
“I think at a time of economic difficulty we unfortunately try and target the outsider, but they miss the fact that our economy is reliant on and always has been on an ongoing migration program,” Ms Sinha said.
“That’s the way it should be and it must be preserved.”
She said the proposal was also discriminatory and took the country back to the White Australia Policy, which limited immigration only from certain European nations.
The current migration program issues visas to migrants based on their skills, family connections and special eligibility criteria.
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who supports the idea, proposed $50,000 as a possible amount for the immigration fee-based system.
Ms Sinha said she hoped the proposal would be dumped by parliament, considering the possible skills gap a fee-based migration scheme could create.
“Imagine Latrobe Valley without the skilled migrants we brought into the health and allied health sector and all sorts of industries; we desperately needed them,” she said.
Ms Sinha expressed confidence Victoria would not back the program as 48 per cent of its residents were either born overseas or had a parent who was born outside of Australia.