Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (13:39): Not even those on low and middle incomes who want to be reunited with mums and dads overseas have been spared the cruelty of this budget. Without any consultation or warning, the government abolished the non-contributory visas which make these reunions possible. True to form, they are still saying that if you have got something like $125,000 then you will be okay, but if you are on a normal-sized income you will not.
This ambush on immigrants will do particular damage to my own community. There are 55,000 people in my electorate who were born overseas, from something like 180 homelands. This is another instance of the people in my area being disproportionately targeted. Any MP in here worth their salt knows how important these visas are. Whether it is a refugee from Sudan or a Tongan Australian, generally the case is: mum or dad were left behind and are now alone and unable to care for themselves.
Recently I had a family who are refugees from Afghanistan come into the office. A dad and his three kids begged us to assist his parents to come to Australia. His parents were at risk from the Taliban because he had supported the United Nations' efforts to rebuild his country. His kids were crying because they feared for their grandparents. Those fears were founded when the grandparents were subsequently beaten badly—an awful fact, verified with photos. The government's changes to visas did not do this. But by abolishing them the government is robbing the family of hope. It is not robbing all applicants of hope—just the poorer ones. It is not seeking to sever the loving bonds of every immigrant family—just the loving bonds of families on low and middle incomes. People are right to be furious about it, and I am proud to stand up for them.