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Letting the market work with immigration

By David Leyonhjelm - posted Friday, 17 November 2023

Because governments are no better at setting prices than choosing immigrants, it could also use an auction system to set visa prices. This would allow the market to operate via the price mechanism.

Importantly, payment of the fee should only allow for permanent residence. Access to welfare (unemployment, etc) should be reserved for citizens, with citizenship restricted to those who had established themselves over a number of years, share our values of freedom and democracy, and have demonstrated their desire to build a long-term future in Australia.

Those unable to find work may have their visa cancelled and be subject to deportation, although short term benefits might be justified on the grounds that it was covered by the fee they paid.


This system would ensure intending permanent immigrants were well aware of the need to gain employment.The most qualified and employable person in a family would be first to pay the fee and take up residence, working to save the funds for other family members. Over time, families would be reunited in Australia as they are now, except that each member would have made a valuable contribution to the economy.

Temporary immigrants (tourists, backpackers, seasonal workers, students, etc) would not be required to pay the fee unless they sought permanent residence (as many foreign students do.) This approach would apply market forces to the selection of immigrants. With markets infinitely better than governments at allocating resources, the outcome for Australia could only be positive.


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David Leyonhjelm is a former Senator for the Liberal Democrats.

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