The federal government has been urged to impose a more substantial visa fee on migrant families.
12 SEP 2016 – 1:54 PM  UPDATED 12 SEP 2016 – 1:54 PM

The federal government has been urged to impose a more substantial visa fee on migrant families wanting to bring their elderly parents to Australia so that it reflects the subsequent drain on resources.

The Productivity Commission, in its final report on migration intake released on Monday, said aged parents were unlikely to pay taxes or work but made considerable demands on the nation’s health, aged care and social security system.

The report called on the federal government to increase substantially the charge for contributory parent visas.

It also recommended narrowing eligibility for non-contributory parent visas to cases where there were strong compassionate grounds to do so.

The $50,000 contribution charge met only a fraction of the costs for the annual intake of about 7200 contributory parents, the report said.

A further 1500 parents make a minimal contribution.

The commission estimated the cumulative lifetime costs of a parent visa holder in 2015-16 was between $335,000 and $410,000.

The net liability to the Australian community resulting from the assistance required by the 8700 parents over their lifetime, ranged between $2.6 and $3.2 billion, the commission estimated.

“The case for retaining parent visas in their current form is weak,” the report said.

The commission also examined the merits of a proposal by crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm to charge immigrants a lump sum of thousands of dollars for a visa to live in Australia as a revenue-raising measure.

A $55,000 charge would generate $9 billion a year if the non-refugee intake of 190,000 remained in place, the commission said.

The commission acknowledged there could be acceptability issues and a perception that a price-based system would amount to selling citizenship.

Uniform charges were likely to create adverse selection problems and could harm the skills composition of the intake, the report added.

Senator Leyonhjelm said the government should not discount the idea because it could help repair the budget in two years.

“It will also put an end to bureaucrats trying to pick winners,” he said in a statement, adding it would encourage hard-working migrants to choose Australia.

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