Bills Digest 101 1995-96 Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996

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This Digest is prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.

This Digest was available from 18 June 1996


Passage History

Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996

Date Introduced: 30 May 1995
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Commencement: Royal Assent


To extend the Migration Agents Registration Scheme by another 12 months to 21 September 1997.


The Migration Agents Registration Scheme (MARS) was established in 1992 by the Migration Amendment Act (No. 3) 1992 following concerns about unscrupulous conduct and incompetent advice given by some people providing immigration assistance.

MARS includes:

  • a registration scheme for would-be providers of immigration advice;
  • a code of conduct for registered agents;
  • procedures for investigating complaints against agents;
  • processes for suspending and deregistering agents; and
  • criminal sanctions for unregistered practice.(1)

The scheme was originally established for three years, with a government commitment to evaluate it after two years.(2)

In 1994, the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Senator the Hon Nick Bolkus, announced the terms of reference for an inquiry into the scheme by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration.

The Committee issued its report Protecting the Vulnerable? in May, 1995.(3)

The report concluded that after two years of operation, the scheme had had mixed results but recommended it be retained for another three years.

On the basis of all the evidence presented to it, the Committee concludes that the Scheme should be retained for the time being, but that it should be reassessed by the Committee after a further three years of operational experience. The Committee was swayed in particular by the arguments that the Scheme only now is beginning to show results and that further time is required to achieve the Scheme's intended objective.(4)

The government extended the scheme for another twelve months - to 21 September 1996 -so it could consider the report.(5)now just three months away, this Bill seeks to give the scheme another twelve-month extension - to 21 September 1997.

In the Second Reading Speech to this Bill, the Minister, the Hon Philip Ruddock, said the government needed more time to review the scheme and to consider changes suggested in the Committee's report.

The proposed one year extension of the registration scheme until 21 September 1997 will provide time for the government to further review the Scheme, having regard to the prospect of enhanced self-regulation by the migration advice industry.

Main Provisions

There are only three amendments required to extend the scheme by another twelve months to 21 September 1997 (five years since it was first introduced). All amendments are to the so-called 'sunset provisions' which terminate the scheme after a specified time.

Item 1 of Schedule 1: Repeals the old heading to Division 7 of Part 3 (the part of the Act establishing the Migration Agents Registration Scheme) and substitutes a new one reading:

Division 7 - Part to last 5 years

Item 2 of Schedule 1: amends section 333(1) to read:

This Part ceases to be in force at the end of 5 years after the commencement of the Migration Amendment Act (No. 3) 1992.

Item 3 of Schedule 1: amends section 333(4) to read:

The regulations may provide for the refund of all or part of registration application fees and renewal fees paid later than 4 years after commencement date.

The Explanatory Memorandum says this amendment is required because:

Fees are paid on an annual basis. If the scheme is terminated after five years, this amendment will enable the partial refund of application fees and renewal fees which have been paid in the last year of the scheme. The four years will end on 21 September 1996.


(1) Joint Standing Committee Report, Protecting the Vulnerable? The Migration Agents Registration Scheme, May 1995.

(2) Hon G. Hand, Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs, Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), House of Representatives, 27 May 1992: 2937.

(3) op cit: Joint Standing Committee Report: 1.

(4) op cit: Joint Standing Committee Report: xviii.

(5) Second Reading Speech, Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 5) 1995.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Bronwyn Young Ph. 06 277 2699
12 June 1996
Bills Digest Service
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This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

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ISSN 1323-9032
© Commonwealth of Australia 1996

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 19 June 1996

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