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The Coalition Government welcome announcement to streamline the Assessment Level component of the student visa program has been tarnished by its unwillingness to tackle the ‘Genuine Temporary Entrant’ (GTE) test.

The Assistant Minister for Immigration, Senator Michealia Cash, announced yesterday the Australian Government will reduce the Assessment Levels from 5 to 3.

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Pre-18 October 2013 Protection Visa Applicants Affected

A new regulation for the re-introduced Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) will ensure those irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) who have already applied for an 886 Permanent Protection Visa (PPV) will not gain permanent residency.

Scott Morrison, the Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, amended the Migration Regulations 1994 to insert a new subregulation: 2.08H


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On 18 October 2013, Scott Morrison, the Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, issued a  Ministerial Direction to officially re-instate Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). 

The reintroduction of TPVs was an election undertaking by the Coalition prior to the election as part of  the suite of changes to ‘take sugar off the table’ for irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs). 

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Scott Morrison is the new Minister for Immigration & Border Protection.  He is already moving quickly to address the vexed and polarised issues around irregular maritime arrivals.

As of today, no permanent protection visas will be issued to unauthorised arrivals. They will have to apply for temporary protection visas (TPVs).  Since there are no statutory provisions for TPVs, more than 23,000 bridging visa E holders will be living in legal limbo for sometime until the new laws are passed.

It would be a safe bet to conclude that a TPV bill will be introduced quickly and it will find support from a wounded Labor parliamentary party.

The Migration Alliance also anticipates Bob Correll PSM will become the new Secretary of the newly labeled Department.  Mr Correll, known as ‘Uncle Bob’, in the Australian Public Service, was a Deputy Secretary to Immigration, and Employment before that. He has spent the last twelve months or so as Morrison’s closest adviser on migration matters.  Bob is no neophyte to the job.

The other big area of reform will be around some relaxation of temporary sponsored work visas. The pendulum is about to swing back towards employers and against red-tape with regards to 457 visas – the largest visa category granted in the overall migration program. 

Already, the July 2013 reforms are creating a flood of rejections, appeals and compliance issues, as anecdotally reported to the Migration Alliance. It will reach crisis levels if not addressed immediately.

With 457 visas, there will be less bipartisanship.

Tony Abbott has long been supporter of a ‘Big Australia’. He wants the Department to be both the good cop and the bad cop with regards to the migration program.

The Prime Minister has said previously about a multicultural migration program:

“Australians have usually made it easier for immigrants to embrace their new home by appreciating that they would come to terms with life here in their own way and at their own pace. In the meantime, the different accents and different flavours of contemporary Australia have been a strength, not a weakness.”

His views are very generous. Indeed Abbott has stated the commitment of migrants to Australia should not be questioned.

It augurs well.

Since 1996, the migration program has become more weighted towards migrants who have English language abilities, qualifications and are generally self-reliant taxpayers.  It has left Australia better able to address its ageing population pressures.

Former ALP Senator and commentator, John Black, noted in the The Weekend Australia recently that the Liberals election messages were penetrating the migrant voter more than ever where migrants have strong English capacities. Where the capacity is weaker, they do not hear the Liberal message, which is filtered through migrant press and radio.

The political implication being a shift in the way migrant voters vote. It is a more aspirational professional class of migrant voter than the previous generation.  Over recent years, many international students and temporary work visa holders, who eventually become voting citizens have keenly felt the growing red-tape as much as migration agents and businesses. 

The Liberal messages resonate more than ever to migrant constituencies. 

Can the Liberal machine maintain that political advantage over the longer term and create a new constituency for itself?

An Abbot Government should be able to help forge a new national consensus about growing Australia through the migration program, one that resonates with votes in western Sydney and multicultural Melbourne.

As always, the policy proof will be in the legislative pudding.

The Migration Alliance will be expecting some strong outcomes for the student and skilled migrant visa reforms as a priority.  

It is also expecting a more relaxed culture in the Department with fewer arbitrary powers around ‘genuine temporary entrants’ and a renewed commitment to resolve the migration status to avoid the growing number of appeal applications and visa over-stayers. 

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The CFMEU is contemporary Australia’s foremost anti-migrant organisation. 

As part of the election campaign, the union, some of whose officials have been subject to criminal investigations and penalties for workplace corruption and intimidation, begin a million dollar anti-457 visa campaign.

The campaign includes free-to-air network advertisements, billboards in marginal Labor seats and logistical assistance to Labor members in Corangamite, La Trobe, Deakin in Victoria.  

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