SPA welcomes axing of “golden visa” scheme
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has welcomed the government’s closure of the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) in light of claims that it had a profoundly negative impact on the economy.
The Significant Investor visa strand of the program required a minimum investment of $5 million in Australia and conferred an automatic right of permanent residency. Investors could gain citizenship even if they only spent 40 days in the country, were not required to speak or learn English, and there was no upper age limit.
SPA national president Jenny Goldie says The Australian newspaper has revealed that the scheme has allowed foreign criminals and corrupt regime officials to acquire Australian citizenship.
“The whole scheme, in both concept and practice, was an outrage,” says Ms Goldie. “The Australian people opposed it from the beginning and deeply resented that anyone with money could buy a visa, with almost no questions asked.
“Not one applicant in the last decade has been rejected under the character test that was meant to exclude criminals.
“As for its proclaimed advantages, these were dubious at best. Last year, Martin Parkinson’s review of migration found that company directors who came to Australia under BIIP tended to be in retail and hospitality, ‘sectors not typically associated with major advancements in productivity and innovation’.
“The money could be invested in real estate, serving only to worsen housing unaffordability.
“Because there was no age limit, the scheme attracted older, less skilled migrants who, in the end, required more money to be spent on them through pensions and health care benefits than any tax they paid in Australia,” says Ms Goldie.
“While SPA supports a much smaller migration program overall, nevertheless, reallocating the visa places from BIIP to other parts of the Skilled Migration Program is a wise move in purely economic terms. The fiscal impact of most migrants, however, is negative once infrastructure costs to state and local governments are included, but none as bad as the BIIP.
“The BIIP allowed financial advisers, migration agents, banks and specialist investment firms to get rich while the wider community paid the cost.
“The Productivity Commission has found that the BIIP visas were a pathway to laundering dirty money and were prone to fraud.
“Australia is one of the last Western countries to abandon such ‘golden visa’ schemes that have seen corrupt foreign officials parking their money in safe countries. We congratulate the government for pulling the plug but ask: ‘Why did it take so long?’”
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