A Government backflip means Johnny Zhang can look forward to being reunited with his parents again
Chinese migrant Johnny Zhang loves his Australian life, but wants to be able to look after his parents. (ABC News: Margaret Burin)
Migrants to Australia are breathing a sigh of relief after the Turnbull Government announced it will reverse a decision that would have made it harder to help their parents move to Australia.
- Government had planned to increase minimum income requirements for visa scheme
- Lower-income migrants feared that imperilled their plans for family re-unions
- The changes was scrapped after a community campaign, and a Greens-led revolt in the Senate
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan introduced the changes a month ago, causing widespread anger among permanent residents seeking to be re-united with family members.
The changes to the ‘assurance of support’ program would have meant family members sponsoring their parents to come to Australia would have to prove they were earning about $87,000, almost double what was previously required.
Families would be expected to be earning $115,000.
Mr Tehan has cancelled the changes after the Greens appeared to have secured crossbench support to pass a disallowance motion in the Senate.
It is welcome news for migrants who had been devastated by the changes.
As a member of China’s one-child policy generation, it is culturally expected that Melbourne resident Johnny Zhang will care for his parents in their older age.
“A man comes my age, we think about how to support our family. I am an only child, so [my parents] will have to come here or I will have to go back.”
After creating a life in Australia and becoming a permanent resident, Mr Zhang began looking into how he could bring his parents over.
“My mother’s health condition is not very good so I’m worried.
“My mum just said [to me], ‘I miss you so much. The older you grow, the older we grow, we miss you even more’.”
Johnny Zhang says many in his community lobbied MPs to oppose the change. (ABC News: Margaret Burin)
However, like many other migrants on lower incomes, the changes introduced on April 1 made that seem like an impossibility.
So, for Mr Zhang, today’s change of heart was good news.
“We don’t have to wait until they’re really old, or for me to go back there to take care of them,” he said.
Greens immigration spokesperson Nick McKim is pleased about Mr Tehan’s change of heart.
“This is an important win for multicultural Australia, and for families who just want to be together,” he said in a statement.
“How much money you have should not determine whether you can see your family again.”
Mr Zhang believes the mobilisation of concerned migrants contributed to the changes being reversed.
“I think a lot of people like me who got affected sent emails to MPs,” he said.
“[The Government] probably hoped the community won’t fight back but we did.”
Mr Tehan said any ‘assurance of support’ applications received after April 1 would be revised and processed under the previous income requirements.
“The Government will introduce a revised determination that addresses Senator McKim’s concerns,” he said.