Budget Announcements for Immigration Portfolio 2008-2009

By Claire Zee, Acacia Immigration Australia Pty Ltd, 19 May 2008

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans has made five budget announcements related to the Immigration Portfolio. The budget announcements should be seen as a key component in the Rudd Government's commitment to return integrity to Australia's migration system. The regulation changes that are needed to implement the five budget announcements is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of the new financial year.

One of the main commitments announced involves the abolition of the Temporary Protection Visa (TPV). From early 2008-2009, people found to be refugees will receive a Permanent Protection Visa (PPV), regardless of their mode of arrival. Those refugees that are currently in Australia on TPV's will be afforded the same benefits and entitlements as holders of the PPV.

In addition, the Rudd Government has moved to ease pressure on employers struggling with the skills shortage and increasing inflation by adding an additional 31 000 skilled migrants to the 2008-2009 Migration Program. The number of Permanent Skilled Migration for 2008-2009 will be 133 500 out of total number of 190 300 in the Migration Program. The government has also committed $19.6 million to improve processing and compliance of the temporary skilled migration program, which includes the 457 visa scheme.

Furthermore, the Government is taking an integrated approach to community cohesion. Almost $80 million will be invested over the next four years to strengthen measures to help migrants gain language skills needed to join the Australian workforce. Ensuring migrants are equipped for the workforce is an important economic objective in an environment of labor shortages which are adding to inflationary pressures.

The Australian Government will also increase Australia's refugee and humanitarian intake as part of its commitment to offer a new life to those most in need. The Humanitarian Program is increasing to 13 500 in 2008-2009. This includes 6500 offshore refugee places, with a one-off increase of 500 places in the coming financial year to assist people affected by the conflict in Iraq.

Finally, the Rudd Government will deliver on its commitment to improve Australian immigration detention accommodation. Both on- and offshore detention centres will see a redevelopment and the budget also provides for a 12-month extension to the Case Management and Community Care Pilot program, which provides targeted assistance to people while their immigration status is resolved.

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