The Liberty & Democracy Party (LDP) today called for a change in Australia’s approach to admitting immigrants.
“Australia has a long standing and very workable Free Immigration Agreement (FIA) with New Zealand”, said David Leyonhjelm.
“New Zealanders are free to live and work in Australia without restriction and vice versa, although neither automatically becomes a citizen or is eligible for welfare. Australia should seek to negotiate similar bilateral FIA agreements with other nations that are compatible with Australia. That is, countries that share our basic values (rule of law, democracy) and where there is no expectation of a surge of immigration. Possible examples include Canada, Singapore, Japan, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.
“Migrants between FIA countries would have the rights of a permanent resident but retain the citizenship of their home country.The security risks are minimal. Australia already provides near automatic tourist visas to citizens from selected countries. It would merely mean extending the temporary visitor option to permanent residence for nationals from specific countries that were willing to provide a reciprocal benefit to Australians.
“It would eliminate much of the bureaucracy and cost associated with the work visa system and give Australians greater options to live, work and travel abroad,” Mr Leyonhjelm said.
However, whilst the LDP believes this would be an important reform it recognises that such agreements would be inappropriate for many countries. For them, the LDP supports a shift in our immigration process from the points-based “quota” to a “tariff” approach, where immigration is restricted by the charging of an immigration fee (and of course minimum health and safety requirements).
“An immigration fee acts as a form of self-selection as only people with high expected income will apply. This provides a form of payment for Australia’s public goods that are already in place and adds to the economic benefit that the immigrant is providing Australia.”
The fixed immigration fee would originally be set at a level to ensure that the amount of immigration is roughly the same as the current immigration intake.
“Our policy is not about closing the gate on immigration. We believe in a reasonably significant immigrant intake. Our policy is about creating greater efficiency and transparency in the immigration process. An entry fee would be simpler and more transparent than the existing quota and points system,” Mr Leyonhjelm said.
The immigration fee would apply to all non-humanitarian immigrants, whether economic or family. A limited number of “immigration scholarships” and “immigration loans” would be available to certain highly skilled categories that Australia needed. Organisations that seek to encourage population growth in a particular region may also subsidise the fee for immigrants who agree to settle in that location. The same option would be open to State governments that sought to promote settlement of immigrants in particular areas of a State.