05Oct 2016

The integrity of Australia’s family visa programme is to be strengthened with the introduction of a new amendment to be introduced by the Government.


The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 will mandate character checks of sponsors of all family visa applications, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has announced.


Currently police checks are required for sponsors in applications where children are involved and specifically focus on the protection of children. The legislative changes will expand checks to all sponsors and Dutton said this will allow better consideration of the potential for family violence.


They will enable the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to refuse sponsorship applications in circumstances where the sponsor has convictions for paedophilia, other offences against children or offences relating to violence.


In refusing an application, the Department will have to consider a range of factors including the length of the relationship, the type of offence and how recently it occurred, the relevance of the offence to the family relationship and any other mitigating circumstances.


‘Newly arrived migrants are among the more vulnerable people in our community. They are less likely to have an established support network, may not have an English speaking background and are less likely to know how to seek assistance,’ said Dutton.


‘These changes add an important safeguard to the family visa programme and will ensure sponsors are aware of their obligations under Australian law and are appropriately assessed before being approved as a family sponsor,’ he explained.


‘Strengthened information sharing provisions will also ensure that both applicants and sponsors can make fully informed decisions before committing to the visa application process,’ he added.


The Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said the Bill is an important step toward protecting women and children against the very real threat of family violence. She pointed out that in 2015/2016 some 529 partner visa applicants claimed they were victims of family violence, compared to 458 claims made the previous year.


‘While applicants for a partner visa who seek to remain in Australia on grounds of family violence make up less than two per cent of the partner visa caseload, we are committed to implementing policies to keep women arriving in Australia safe from violence,’ Cash added.


She explained that the changes support the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children by implementing sections of Action Item 11 from the Second Action Plan requiring additional information disclosure by the Australian husband or fiancé applying for an overseas spouse visa.


What this means for you?

If you are considering lodging your Partner Visa application, we would strongly recommend lodging your applications as soon as possible.


As all applications lodged after the new regulations are implemented in November 2016 will have to meet even more rigorous criteria, especially for Sponsors.


News from:

05Oct 2016

In response to the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for major changes in the visa for migrants’ parents, the Australian government plans to file legislation that would grant parents of migrants five-year temporary sponsored visas. Immigration Australia rolled out on Friday a discussion paper to initiate community consultations on the proposal.


The temporary sponsored parent visa would make it easier for the parents to visit their children who have migrated to Australia. In planning the new visa, the Australian government recognises that aged parents are also an asset to their families, and families are the fundamental building blocks to their society, explains Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.


He adds reuniting three generations of families has great benefits to society. In making wide consultations, the Turnbull government aims to enable the setting of the visa to have the most options, reports SBS.


However, among the conditions for the grant of the visa would be for the aged parents to secure private health insurance and financial guarantee from their children in Australia so they would not be a burden to the Australian government. In that way, the new visa would be more affordable than current arrangements without burdening the taxpayer, reports ABC.


There is still an option for the issuance of permanent visas to parents under Australia’s Migration Programme, but the number of visas is small and waiting times could take long, up to 30 years to process, according to the discussion paper. However, with the proposed temporary visa, processing time would be cut to two years only.


Hawke says the new visa would be available to parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The timetable is for the new visa to be in place by July 2017.


News from: International Business Times (Au Edition)

21Sep 2016

“This new visa has been established for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing from a third party.”

A new category of visa to attract and retain the best and brightest entrepreneurial talent is now open to new applications.

This new visa has been established for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing from a third party and was launched on 10 September 2016.

This new visa allows entrepreneurs with $200,000 in funding from specified third party to develop and commercialise their innovative ideas in Australia.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the Government was driving economic growth through innovation, including through our Business Innovation and Investment visa programme.

“The new Entrepreneur visa provides a pathway to permanent residence and allows entrepreneurs with $200,000 in funding from a specified third party to develop and commercialise their innovative ideas in Australia,” Mr Dutton said.

These changes are aimed to help Australia attract and retain the best and brightest entrepreneurial talent.


This visa also provides a pathway to permanent residency in Australia.

To be eligible to apply for Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188), Entrepreneur Stream, you must:

  • be under 55 years of age, although a state or territory can waive this requirement if your proposed complying entrepreneur activity will be of exceptional economic benefit to the nominating state or territory
  • have competent English and be able to provide evidence of this at the time you are invited to apply for the visa
  • be undertaking or proposing to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity in Australia and have a genuine intention to continue this activity
  • nominated by a state or territory government


A Complying Entrepreneur Activity is an activity that relates to an innovative idea that will lead to the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia, or the development of an enterprise or business in Australia.


(Article from SBS)

07Jan 2016

As revellers clean up from New Year’s Eve celebrations, the last thing anyone wants to think about are the new laws, rules and policies that come into effect on January 1.

However, if you travel by NSW public transport, have small children, are planning to buy or sell a home, have a student loan or buy medications from the chemist – here’s some things you should take notice of. 



Opal Card ticket changes

Most regular travellers have already bitten the travel ticket bullet and switched to Opal Card.

Just as well because from today, the only paper tickets available will be single Adult and Concession tickets (trains, buses, ferries and light rail) and return Adult and Concession tickets (trains, ferries and light rail).

Paper tickets purchased before 1 January 2016 can still be used for travel. They won’t be valid indefinitely, so should be use up as quickly as possible.

The decision to stop selling most types of paper tickets means up to half a million pensioners and seniors have had to sign up for a Gold Opal pass, or otherwise be left paying regular concession fares.

About 70 per cent of all public transport trips are now made using an Opal card, and 3.3 million cards have been issued since the system began on ferries in December, 2012.



Vaccinating your kids

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids will be denied up to $15,000 a year in childcare rebates and welfare under tough new rules which take effect today right across Australia.

The so-called No Jab, No Play rules were supported by both sides of the Federal Parliament.

Under the new laws the ‘conscientious ­objector’ loophole will be closed. Previously this allowed parents with an objection to vaccination to opt out. The rules will not apply when there is a proven medical reason for not vaccinating.

Parents who fail to immunise their children will no longer be paid the $200-a-week childcare benefit, the $7500-a-year childcare rebate or the $726 Family Tax Benefit A annual supplement.

The combined childcare and welfare payments at risk could amount to up to $30,000 a year for a family with two young children.



Buying and selling a home

If you are planning to buy or sell a home, these new laws are important.

Underquoting laws will be overhauled as of today to help clarify how real estate agents should market properties.

Underquoting describes when an agent understates the estimated selling price of a property. This can cause interested buyers to waste time and money on inspecting properties, getting reports and attending auctions based on misleading estimates of the selling price.

Under amendments to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 agents will be required to provide written evidence of their estimated selling price to the vendor and this estimate must be stated in the agency agreement.

Agents must not quote a figure less than their estimated selling price provided in the agency agreement. The estimated selling price can be a single figure or a price range and if a price range is used, the highest price must not be more than 10 per cent higher than the lowest price.

The idea is to stop the use of price guides that include the terms ‘offers over’, ‘offers above’ or any similar terms and statements.



Drugs from the chemist

Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) take effect from today, with about 17 items being removed from the schedule.

The drugs are:

antacids (eg Gaviscon, Mylanta and Gastrogel)
paracetamol (eg Panamax, Panadol Osteo)
iron tablets (eg Ferro-Gradumet)
aspirin – pain and blood-thinning products
B12 injections
hydrocortisone creams and ointments
folic acid tablets (eg Megafol)

Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of medication for most medical conditions. The items removed are among the cheaper items on the schedule. Paracetamol is the fourth most prescribed drug on the PBS. The Government expects to save $80 million per year which will be shifted to other newer drugs.

The changes are expected to hit the pocket of older customers the most, with many retirees and nursing home residents relying on the removed medications for daily pain management. The new rules mean pharmacies can offer a $1 discount on PBS prescriptions to help offset the impact, but that in turn means customers will take longer to reach their Safety Net threshold.

Under the current Safety Net rules, when a customer reaches 60 concessional prescriptions at $6.20 each for the year, their prescriptions are free of charge for the rest of that year.



Repaying your student loan

From today, people who have benefited from Australian student loans and now live overseas will pay for them the same way as they would if they lived in Australia.

Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said it was estimated that up to $30 million was lost annually due to graduates moving overseas and from today those graduates would be required to notify the Australian Taxation Office to arrange repayments.

Minister Birmingham said recouping debts under the Higher Education Loan Programme or Trade Support Loan scheme would ensure Australia’s world-class, income-contingent student loans scheme was fairer and more sustainable into the future.


(Article from the Daily Telegraph)

07Jan 2016

Sydney has once again proved why its New Year celebrations are world famous, with bursts of brilliance providing a spectacular backdrop to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House as Australia welcomed in 2016.

Synchronised to a soundtrack of some of 2015’s biggest hits, including Uptown Funk and Hold Back the River, the almost 15-minute fireworks show sent crowds into rapturous cheers and applause.

The $7 million party kicked off early on Thursday, with a vast and proud Aboriginal Welcome to Country ceremony ushering in the iconic fireworks display, putting local Gadigal, Wangal and Gamaragal traditions front and centre in global new year celebrations.

At 8.40pm the Sydney Harbour Bridge was transformed into a giant canvas, using new technologies to present the world’s oldest dance form in honour of Australia’s First Nations culture, land and peoples.

Fireworks and special effects turned the structure into a giant Aboriginal flag, complete with a red waterfall cascading from the bridge base shortly after the sun set for the last time in 2015.

Sail boats, yachts and private ferries took up position on the harbour, for prime positions early on Thursday.

7(The fireworks seen from Barangaroo park. Photo by Brook Mitchell)

On land, the best vantage points filled up hours before the clock struck 12.

And the massive crowds that filled the Harbourside parks and reserves had claimed their prime positions early – some camping out for days to secure their spot.

The Sydney Opera House grounds were full by 2.30pm, with crowds settling in for a nine-and-a-half hour wait for the midnight fireworks.


(Article from SMH, cover image photo by Janie Barrett)

06Jul 2015

A radical proposal to allow migrants to pay their way to immigrate to Australia has been played down by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a discussion paper, and not as a policy of the government.

In a press conference on Monday morning, Mr Abbott said that the Productivity Commission was asked to look at a whole range of issues, and it was unlikely the Coalition government would allow migrants to pay entry fees to gain permanent residency visas as floated by the Commission in its release on Friday. Continue reading

15Apr 2015

Chinese travellers will be able to make repeat visits to Australia with ease, with a current online visitor visa pilot extended to offer three-year, multiple entry visas to approved applicants.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, who is also the minister responsible for tourism, announced the initiative tonight in Adelaide at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

Mr Robb said the government was determined to do what it can to help Australia capture more than its share of the rapidly growing Chinese tourist market. Continue reading

26Nov 2014



A “Western Harbour Tunnel” is the centrepiece of the Baird government’s new 20 year and $20 billion infrastructure vision. Construction of the road tunnel, revealed by Fairfax Media on Saturday, could start at the beginning of the next decade, the government said on Tuesday morning.

But no price tag has been put on the tunnel and only a fraction of the potential funding needed for the project has been set aside. Continue reading

27Aug 2014

The NSW Government is making NSW the most competitive destination for high value investor migrants, Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner said today. The NSW Government today announced a change to its Significant Investor Visa (SIV) requirements to make it easier for applicants to seek NSW nomination and invest in a broader range of investments. Continue reading