Migrants could buy the right to immigrate to Australia instead of being assessed according to their skills or family connections under a new proposal being examined by the Productivity Commission.
The government think-tank is assessing a range of changes to Australia’s migrant intake, including a system which would charge migrants a fee to move to Australia.
According to the Productivity Commission report released on Friday, the pricing mechanism would attract “economically active immigrants” who had a “real commitment to the country”.
The move would create tens of billions of dollars in extra revenue for the government, but according to a Fairfax report, has alarmed business groups who believe tackling skills shortages should remain a priority.
The current migration program grants permanent residency to migrants with a particular skill, those with family in Australia, or those who meet other special eligibility criteria.
The report does address the issue of fairness and equality, and acknowledges that family reunion would be determined by the ability to pay the entry charge.
“Under a charging regime, the family reunion intake would be determined by the willingness and capacity of the immigrant (or their family in Australia) to pay the charge, rather than the period of separation or other individual circumstances of the potential immigrant.”
The enquiry was established by the government in a deal to secure Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm’s support to reintroduce temporary protection visas for asylum seekers.
According to the Fairfax report, Senator Leyonhjelm nominated $50,000 as the possible fee for migration to Australia.
“This would make a substantial financial contribution to the Australian budget and I hope that would lead to lower taxes,” he said.
The Productivity Commission will table its final migrant intake report next March.