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Budget May 2017: all visa fees rise & no promised reduction in the WHM visa fee to $390

The Federal Government has reneged on its promise to reduce the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa fee from $440 to $390. That promise was made September 2016 by the Treasurer himself, was passed by both Houses of Parliament (your elected officials), and finally enshrined in legislation by assent on 2 December 2016 (Act No: 89).

The fee of $390 was spelt out in the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) on the Working Holiday Maker Reform Package that went to both Houses of Parliament and passed without amendment.

Dismay was expressed by senior level backpacker sector parties to the Federal Government after announcing in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (in Dec 2016) that they were postponing the reduction of the visa fee from $440 to $390. And yesterday’s budget was the perfect time in which to ‘do as they said they would do and deliver on earlier promises’.

But suggestions are that horse-trading with the crossbench’ has taken place with the decision to not reduce the visa fee and we were never going to see it. Quite the opposite and more likely the WHM visa fee will rise in line with CPI annually like all other visas.

They will have to enact regulations to ensure that the fee of $440 is not reduced (which means tabling it in both Houses of Federal Parliament before 1 July 2017).

– and presumably hoping that no-body is watching?! Well we will be (and so will TTF and ATEC) … we won’t take this lying down!

Written by Chris Harrison