On the 9th October, Global Enterprises Group’s Managing Director James Clarke had the pleasure of attending the ‘Policy Directions’ breakfast. It was organised by Federal MP Dr Dennis Jensen with Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Senator Michaelia Cash and WA State Treasurer Mike Nahan both presenting on “Rethinking Border Security and Migration Success”.
Treasurer Nahan spoke at length on the success of migration from a West Australian state perspective, rightly identifying a number of stages the state has been on in its immigration history. He started from the 1970’s with the Vietnamese community beginning its major migration to the state, then spoke to a change in 1996 by the Howard government with the introduction of the 457 visa; signifying a fundamental change from a ‘refugee, family focussed’ portfolio to a skilled migration portfolio bringing in up to $580bn of new asset creation in the state. A number of statements and comments were made by Senator Cash on the day, including issues such as: 1. SIV priorities 2. 457 flagged changes 3. Humanitarian programme
The commonwealth government is keen to ‘reinvigorate’ the SIV programme. As at the 30th September, over $2.18bn has been invested across Australia under this visa programme by 436 primary applicants. As at the same date, $3bn is still in the pipeline, with 595 applications remaining undetermined. Another key change announced by the Senator on the day, was that the means by which what will be considered an ‘eligible investment’ will be handed to Minister Andrew Robb’s department. The key phrase the Senator was trying to have us focus on was that the commonwealth wanted to ‘facilitate, not frustrate’ the programme.
Assistant Minister Cash acknowledged that the 457 programme continues to be a crucial element to the portfolio. She has been focussing her department on streamlining the programme, currently looking carefully at training issues, market rate benchmarking, sponsorship requirements and flexibility with IELTS / english language testing. The Senator informed us that announcements to be coming shortly from the Prime Minister.
The Assistant Minister informed us that by the time the coalition government was elected, over 8,000 women and children were in detention, and we had experienced a $11bn blowout in the programme. Since the 2013 Federal Election, over half of the children being held in detention have now been moved out of detention, and the aim is to have most of the children in the community before the end of this year (2014).