‘Very much a Budget for multicultural Australia’

By Our Reporter
Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the 2020 Budget is very much a budget for multicultural Australia because it recognises the enterprise of multicultural communities

Morrison said a lot of measures in the Budget have been introduced to support multicultural communities and citizens who are more likely to start a business. “They’re more likely to own a business. They’re more likely to employ other Australians. And we’ve seen that across so many different communities. On the social side, there are important things we’re doing to maintain the social cohesion as we keep our country together,” he said addressing the multicultural ethnic media at an online media conference on Wednesday morning.

Ethnic communities have always “demonstrated a level of entrepreneurialism, a level of commitment and a work ethic that will see them best able I think, to take advantage of these opportunities,” Morrison said.

“Australia’s immigrant story is not just about more people creating more demand. It’s about bringing our entrepreneurial spirit to Australia and an entrepreneurial spirit that will see these incentives to employ people to invest and to grow their businesses at a time when others might choose to stand back,” the Prime Minister further said.

Without giving a definite date, Morrison said the country’s borders will eventually be lifted when the Government is in a position to do so.

Given there will be vacancies in the program that will ordinarily go to other visa classes, he said the Government is creating another 30,000 places in the partner program this year.

However, that is a temporary scenario, he said. “Once we can get more flexible and effective quarantine arrangements in place, then we’ll see what opportunities open up for us. Of course, we know that the reduced migration intake will have an impact on the Australian economy.

“And as you know, there’s 160,000 cap on intakes through the permanent program and we have no plans to change that. We made that commitment at the last election. And over this term and we’ll keep to that. But obviously, in the course of this year and arguably next year, we’re unlikely to see anything like that. But there are areas of opportunity, like in international students area, like in the Pacific worker and seasonal worker programs, potentially in backpacker areas and things like that. But it requires effective border management and quarantine management to make that a reality. So we’ll keep investing in that technology and those processes to try and open those opportunities up as soon as we can.

“That will be an important opportunity to get through, I think, what has been a frustrating backlog for many Australians who are seeking to have their partners and to be able to come and get visas and ultimately become Australians. So we see this as an opportunity to ensure that more Australians become Australians, both through the visa program and then ultimately through citizenship.”

On the question of introducing English language requirement for partner visa, the Prime Minister said, “English is the vital tool for social and economic inclusion in Australia. The lack of English language skills, particularly amongst partners, has put many of those partners at risk in Australia, at risk of domestic violence, at risk of being abused in the workplace and having their rights overtaken. And English language is absolutely critical to help people when they come to Australia to take the greatest opportunity of what life in Australia can mean and English is the passport for that to occur in Australia.

“English unifies the country and it enables us all to connect both economically and socially and so that’s why we believe that’s an important step that needs to be taken. I don’t want to see people who come to Australia be vulnerable and if your English language skills are not strong or even non-existent, then you will be more vulnerable in Australia. From a negative point of view and from a positive point of view, you, you won’t be able to maximise life in Australia for you and your family. And so that’s why we’re encouraging that process.”

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