Thursday, August 15, 2013

Residency for refugees ruled out - Sydney Morning Herald

Uncertain future: Children at the Villawood detention centre.

Uncertain future: Children at the Villawood detention centre. Photo: Rick Stevens

The Coalition will ramp up its hardline stance on refugees on Friday, announcing that almost 32,000 asylum seekers who have already arrived in Australia by boat will never get permanent settlement as well as stripping them of the right to appeal to the courts. 

The Coalition would also introduce indefinite work-for-the-dole obligations for those found to be refugees.    

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A Coalition government would scrap the right of asylum seekers to appeal to the courts, which in the March quarter brought the number of asylum seekers who were granted refugee status from 65.3 per cent to more than 90 per cent. 

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Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the Coalition would return to a ''non-statutory'' process, in which a single caseworker would decide the fate of asylum seekers.

According to Department of Immigration figures compiled last Friday, 31,986 asylum seekers are either in the community on bridging visas, in community detention, in mainland detention centres or on Manus Island and Nauru.

Mr Morrison and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will on Friday say a Coalition government would deny them the right to ever settle in Australia, creating a crucial point of difference between the two parties, now united on stopping the boats.

''The key points of difference are that Labor would give them permanent visas, but we'll give them temporary visas,'' Mr Morrison said.

He also flagged tough new rules for assessing the refugee claims of those who arrive by boat without documentation, despite it not being illegal to claim asylum in Australia without papers.

But Mr Morrison said specific details about the assessment process could only be determined in government, because parts of the policy would be subject to challenge in the High Court.

The Howard government introduced temporary protection visas [TPVs] for refugees in 1999.

Under the Coalition's revamped scheme, people would be given a TPV only after being found to be a refugee and released into the community. 

They would be kept in an enforced state of limbo, and allowed only a temporary visa for up to three years, after which they could apply for another visa if it was not safe to return to their homeland.

They would be forbidden to apply for family reunion, and from re-entry to the country – meaning they could not leave and return – and would be required to work for the dole.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke said: ''Scott Morrison knows full well that temporary protection visas were a gift to people smugglers and simply pushed more people onto boats. That's why John Howard ended up providing permanent visas to the vast majority of people who were in TVPs. Like most of what Scott Morrison is saying at the moment it's a one-liner for the media and doesn't stack up as a policy.''

Ramping up Labor's controversial ''screening-out'' process, which has led to more than 1000 would-be asylum seekers returned before their refugee applications were complete, the Coalition would adopt a scheme by which those with no prima facie prospect of success would be dealt with first.

Those found not to be refugees would face indefinite detention or return to their homelands.

But unlike Labor – which includes boat arrivals in its 20,000 humanitarian intake each year – the Coalition would exempt the 13,750 people it would give humanitarian visas each year from the TPV process.

Poll: Do you agree with the Coalition's plan to make all asylum seekers work for the dole indefinitely and strip them of the right to appeal their refugee status? Yes

52%

No

48%

Total votes: 2697.

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