By: Valerie Johnston
In the last week of April, Prime Minister Turnbull demolished the skilled-worker visa program, and implemented a tough system that requires immigrants and potential asylum seekers to prove that they meet higher English language standards, and limits their stay drastically – from lifelong stays to only four years on a visa. This may have been enough for some, but it seems that Turnbull was just getting started.
On the heels of American President Trump praising Australia’s merit-based system of immigration, Turnbull seems to be taking a page out of the U.S.A.’s book instead. The new proposed immigration laws will now include a section that requires immigrants to prove that they share Australian values before they will be allowed to gain citizenship. With Trump clearly intrigued by the merit-based system, and the rest of Australia worried by the new proposals, what exactly was Turnbull thinking with the new proposals?
Around the country, most believe that this move was an attempt to appease more conservative members of Turnbull’s party, particularly those in the growing One Nation party. The “values test” was an idea originally mentioned by Trump in August 2016 during the American Presidential election. For Australia, though, the definition of a values test is still not very clear.
One thing that is clear is that Australia’s draw to wealthy immigrants is also coming under fire. With the tougher program in place, those hoping to skate by on wealth rather than merit will now have to bring a minimum of $5 million to be eligible for residency, according to Assistant Immigration Minister Hawke, who said that the program is designed to achieve Australia’s economic needs. Dissenters point out that by turning away innovators and skilled migrants, Australia will be straining its dependence on exports to survive. The debate is ongoing as the new policies take place.