A report by ACIL Consulting found that, after their second year in Australia, migrants have a positive impact on public finances, that is, taxes paid opposed to the cost of government benefits received. Business and independent skilled migrants paid more in taxes then they received in government benefits from their first year after arriving in Australia, while refugees and humanitarian migrants received more in benefits then they paid in taxes for their first five years.
Proposed legislation would allow customs officers to use guns to deal with boats carrying illegal migrants and allow them to operate in international waters. Since January 1999, 50 boats carrying 1,272 people have tried to reach Australia. Currently, the smugglers know that the officers can act only within 12 miles of the Australian coast, so many migrant ships stay in international waters east of Papua New Guinea; they use speedboats to ferry the immigrants to Australia.
Kosovar Refugees. Six hundred Kosovars in Australia have accepted the federal government's $3,000 inducement to return home. Another 700 have signed up to return to Kosovo before the October 30, 1999 deadline. The Australian government reported in mid-September 1999 that 1,800 of the 4,000 Kosovars taken into Australia during the crisis have returned home.
A government commission cleared immigration officials of any wrongdoing in the expulsion of a pregnant Chinese immigrant who was in Australia illegally. After the woman was returned to China, she claimed she was forced to have an abortion when she was eight and a half months pregnant. The commission was unable to reach a conclusion about whether or not the abortion was forced.
A controversial $1,000 fee for reviewing the cases of failed refugee applications was extended for two years.
The Australian government is reducing the assets needed to qualify for immigrant status from A$300,000 to A$200,000 in two of the four financial years before applying to migrate. Business owners will no longer need to employ a minimum number of full-time employees in Australia, effective November 1, 1999. For more information: http://www.immi.gov.au
The Australian government's website also includes 200 pages of information to help migrants and refugees settle in Australia. The government has been criticized because the website is entirely in English. The website covers issues including quarantine, taxation and health insurance as well as Australia's climate and its indigenous people. The website address is: http://www.immi.gov.au/settle/
Prostitution is estimated to be an A$50 million a year industry, increasingly dominated by Asians who are "ordered" by brothel owners. Most of the women pay A$40,000 for tourist or student visas to enter Australia and work there for six months. The Australian Parliament recently made "sexual slavery" punishable by 25 years in jail.
Debra Way, "Help for migrants on Internet, but all in English," AAP, September 23, 1999. Jaine MacDonald, "Smuggling: Customs to get guns," The Age, September 23, 1999. "Government aiming to attract overseas business owners," Australian Associated Press, September 14, 1999. "Officials cleared over expulsion of pregnant Chinese woman, AP, September 14, 1999. "600 Kosovars take up $3,000 offer," AAP Newsfeed, September 8, 1999. "Immigration good for Aust budget, says Ruddock," AAP, September 3, 1999.