Immigration and Border Protection: Investing in Regional Growth—2016-17

The Immigration and Border Protection portfolio is committed to supporting rural and regional communities in Australia. A number of the portfolio's programmes specifically target regional Australia and encourage migrants to settle in regional areas.

New Initiatives

Fostering Australian Trade through Australian Trusted Trader

The Australian Trusted Trader programme will deliver an ongoing positive impact on regional Australia. The Australian Trusted Trader programme supports exporters in regional Australia by providing simplified and greater access to export markets and more efficient access to imported goods needed for production. Independent economic modelling done in support of ongoing Australian Trusted Trader estimates that exports will grow by $390.0 million, household consumption by $2.2 billion, and business investment by $953.0 million as a result of trade facilitation benefits offered to Australian Trusted Trader participants.

Experience from the Australian Trusted Trader pilot phase of implementation indicates that industries that operate in regional Australia, including agriculture, fisheries, and food processing, will be particular beneficiaries of an ongoing Australian Trusted Trader. For example, entities that trade in perishable commodities can derive benefit from faster and more efficient movement of goods across international borders.

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Current Initiatives

Syrian and Iraqi Humanitarian Crisis

This measure enacts the Australian Government's announcement on 9 September 2015 to make 12,000 additional Humanitarian Programme places available for people displaced by conflict in Syria and Iraq. As part of the measure, the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio was provided funding to contribute to the resettlement of humanitarian entrants in Australia.

Some of the Syrian and Iraqi humanitarian entrants will be settled in regional areas of Australia.

Our North, Our Future—Business, Trade and Investment Gateway

This measure provides the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio additional funding of $26.9 million over four years to implement a range of initiatives the Government agreed as part of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia (led by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science). The measure will attract more investment and increase the number of international tourists travelling to northern Australia. As part of the measure, revenue collected by the Australian Government is expected to increase by $37.7 million over four years  from 2015-16.

Emerging International Airports

The Australian Government will provide $26.2 million (including $6.9 million in capital funding) over four years from 2015-16 to establish permanent border clearance services at Townsville and Sunshine Coast airports to support regular international air services. Increased visitor numbers will boost the tourism industry in northern Australia, encouraging businesses to invest and helping to unlock the region's full potential. Discussions are ongoing with other regional airports around Australia which may be considered by the Australian Government in due course.

Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa has been introduced as a temporary protection visa. The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa will encourage those granted temporary protection to work and/or study in a designated regional area. The purpose of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa is to provide temporary protection while encouraging enterprise through earning and learning while strengthening regional Australia. The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa is being granted to people who have been assessed as engaging Australia's protection obligations and who have fulfilled health, character, security and identity checks.

Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders will need to demonstrate intent to work and/or study in regional Australia. If they work and/or study in a designated area of regional Australia for at least three and a half years of their visa, and access income support for not more than 18 months of their visa, they will be able to apply for other substantive visas, including permanent visas (excluding Permanent Protection visas), provided that they meet the application criteria for those visas.

States and Territories that have opted in are responsible for identifying areas designated as regional for the purpose of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa.

Humanitarian Programme—Allocation of Places

The Australian Government will continue to explore opportunities to increase regional settlement given existing pressures on major metropolitan centres. Currently, around 20 per cent of humanitarian entrants are settled in locations outside capital cities.

The Humanitarian Programme for 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 is set at 13,750, 13,750, 16,250 and 18,750 places respectively, in line with an instrument made under section 39A of the Migration Act 1958. The instrument, which sets out future programme numbers, provides some certainty to regional providers on the potential number of people who may settle in regional areas over the next four years.

Regional resettlement of refugees only occurs with the support and involvement of local and State government, service providers and agencies, and the local community. The Humanitarian Settlement Services Programme is delivered by service providers on behalf of the Department of Social Services which works closely with local and State governments to support successful settlement outcomes.

2016-17 Migration Programme

The Australian Government seeks to maintain the size and composition for the 2016-17 permanent annual Migration Programme at 2015-16 levels (up to 190,000 places), which includes 128,550 Skill stream places. The Skill stream of the Migration Programme will continue to appropriately support the labour market, and benefit regional Australia by helping fill the need for skills in a range of regions and sectors.

The Migration Programme contributes directly to regional productivity and employment in regional Australia through the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme and the state/territory and Regional Nominated visa category.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme is a demand-driven programme that helps businesses in regional, remote or low population growth areas (outside the major metropolitan centres of Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Melbourne) to recruit the skilled workers they need to manage and grow their operations. The state/territory and regional nominated visa category will also continue to benefit regional areas experiencing labour market shortages.

Seasonal Worker Programme

The Seasonal Worker Programme commenced on 1 July 2012 (following the conclusion of the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme which ran for three and a half years) and is a demand-driven programme. Participating countries include Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Seasonal Worker Programme is a mutually beneficial initiative designed to provide participating countries with opportunities for economic development by allowing their eligible citizens to secure short-term employment in Australia. This in turn assists Australian employers who cannot meet their seasonal labour needs with local jobseekers to fill gaps in certain parts of the agriculture and accommodation industries.

The Department of Employment is the lead agency for the Seasonal Worker Programme and is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Austrade.

On 1 July 2015 the Seasonal Worker Programme became uncapped and on 8 February 2016 the Department of Employment announced further expansion of the Seasonal Worker Programme, from primarily horticulture to the broader agricultural sector including cattle, sheep, grain and mixed enterprises.

Working Holiday Maker Programme

The Working Holiday Maker Programme allows young adults from partner countries to take extended holidays in Australia and support their travels with work. It is comprised of the Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa and the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa.

Since 2005, the second Working Holiday (subclass 417) has been helping to address acute labour shortages in certain industries across regional Australia. A participant can acquire eligibility for a second Working Holiday visa by undertaking three months of 'specified work' in regional Australia while on their first working holiday visa. This creates an incentive to perform work in particular industries and regions, but does not obligate participants to do so. Participation is voluntary.

'Specified work' includes employment activities in the agriculture, mining and construction industries. Regional Australia is defined by a list of postcodes developed in 2004-05 in consultation with State and Territory governments.

The agriculture industry remains the primary beneficiary of the Working Holiday Maker Programme, with around 90 per cent of work being agricultural in nature. Around 8-9 per cent performed work in the construction industry and around 1-2 per cent in the mining industry.

From late 2016, subject to the commencement of the necessary legislation, Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa holders will also be able to apply for a second year visa, if they undertake three months of 'specified work' in tourism and hospitality or agriculture in northern Australia while on their first visa. This was announced as part of the Australian Government's Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

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