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Review of Australia’s Visa Significant Cost Threshold

The Law Council has made a submission to the Department of Home Affairs (the Department’s) Review of Australia’s visa Significant Cost Threshold (SCT), in response to the November 2023 Discussion Paper.1

The Law Council notes that containing public expenditure—the major focus of the present review—should be balanced against competing considerations, including human rights and ethics, and fairness and community expectations as cited in the Discussion Paper.2

There is insufficient flexibility in the current administration of the SCT to allow for those competing considerations to be balanced in many cases. This leads to an increased administrative review burden. It would be more efficient for the relevant competing considerations to be taken into account at first instance.

Significant concerns have been expressed by community organisations that the current SCT scheme may discriminate against those with special educational or treatment needs due to disability. This may engage Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).3 The Law Council shares many of those concerns, and this submission’s recommendations are in part directed to achieving better CRPD compliance.

Of the ‘options to consider’ set out on page 6 of in the Discussion Paper, the Law Council supports:

• redefining (or reconsidering) the term ‘significant’ in the SCT;

• raising the level of the threshold, and

• reconsidering the inclusion of special education in the SCT.

The Law Council further recommends that the waiver process in Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4007 should be extended to all provisional and permanent visa classes. PIC 4005 (which is not subject to a waiver) could be maintained for temporary visas classes, to uphold the containing of potential health expenditure and preserving public confidence in the integrity of the migration system. It is noted that protection (permanent or temporary) visas are not subject to PIC 4005 or PIC 4007.

You can read the full submission below.


1 Discussion Paper accessed at: Review of Australia's visa Significant Cost Threshold (SCT).
2 Ibid, 2 and 7.
3 Opened for signature 30 March 2007, 2515 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 May 2008).

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