Flat White

If we still won’t talk immigration this campaign, here are some conversation starters

16 May 2019

7:49 AM

16 May 2019

7:49 AM

As (a nation of) immigrants, and descendants of immigrants, it appears that the Australian public has the following legitimate concerns about immigration, that are not anti-immigrant per se:

  1. Immigrants who are a drain on the taxpayer.
  2. Immigrants who bring with them a culture that’s incompatible with Australian values.
  3. Immigrants who ‘come through the back door’.

Slashing immigration quotas determined by government probably isn’t the practical answer though. Support for the slash doesn’t consider the critical loss of credit growth required to avoid a recession, immigrants already living here temporarily or permanently, those with visa applications currently in process, and foreign relations abroad.

The three public concerns listed above could be addressed by introducing an immigrant bond system to replace quotas. Essentially, people could voluntarily put forward money to bond an immigrant into Australia. Once bonded, and provided the immigrant meets the appropriate character tests, he or she could then obtain permanent residency; PR with restrictions that address public concerns, after a lengthy minimum period, after which the bond is returned, less the usual administrative fees. Perhaps less a public infrastructure contribution fee as well, with exemption for trusted countries (of origin).

On a side note, perhaps we need more than just character tests. Perhaps every newly arrived family (or individual) should be assigned a caseworker who checks in on them every few weeks (frequency reduced over time) to ensure that they’re working hard to learn English, getting a skilled job, keeping their kids out of trouble and gangs, and making sure nobody in the family is or becomes radicalised. If after the minimum bond period, the caseworker isn’t satisfied, the family or individual is deported (with avenues to administratively appeal)?

An immigrant bond system would be introduced to replace a plethora of classes of complex visas susceptible to abuse. It would also constitute a philanthropic opportunity for immigrant advocacy and support organisations to self-regulate immigration, if they’re keen on rising above virtue signalling. Employers who need skill sets not found in Australia, or which training for are not financially viable in Australia, and those wishing to be directly compassionate towards immigrants come to mind.

People regularly raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly kids with rare disorders from developing countries to the West for medical treatment. I would imagine an immigrant bond wouldn’t cost as much for those who wish to put their money where their mouths are, and bond those immigrants whose values are more familiar. Perhaps the introduction of an immigrant bond system won’t significantly reduce the annual migrant intake, but perhaps it’s more likely to improve immigration outcomes for Australia.

Essentially, if the above was to be implemented, only people with significant economic prospects would come to Australia, or those with well-off bond sponsors. Anyone got any better idea.

This was originally published at https://medium.com/@danapham.au.

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