Government ponders expansion of bridging visas

March 28, 2013

The Federal Government is considering moving hundreds of asylum seekers out of community detention and onto bridging visas.

The West Australian newspaper has reported the Government is considering expanding the program to include families in a bid to save money and reduce the pressure on the detention network.

Several boats, together carrying more than 380 asylum seekers, have arrived since the weekend.

According to the Immigration Department, about 2,000 asylum seekers are currently being detained on Christmas Island.

The centre is able to hold just over 2,000 people, including its contingency capacity.

Asylum seekers on bridging visas move into the community and receive the lowest welfare benefit available and are not eligible to work.

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor says before expanding the program he must consider its wider impact.

“We do have some people on bridging visas already. The question being put to me as to whether in fact we’d have families on bridging visas – that’s something for the Government to consider,” he said.

“We will not make any decisions if we believe it’ll encourage people smugglers to lure people onto unseaworthy vessels on perilous journeys.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has told Sky News he is concerned about the management of the whole community release system.

“That’s a decision the Government seems to be considering in panic, that’s what drove the consideration for community release in the first place,” he said.

Meanwhile, an asylum seeker boat carrying 147 people has been intercepted in waters south-west of Darwin.

The Government says the asylum seekers will be taken to a detention centre at Darwin where they will undergo health and security checks.

And Sri Lanka’s navy has seized a fishing trawler carrying at least 97 people on their way to Australia.




Filed under Asylum Policy, Detention Centers

3 responses to “Government ponders expansion of bridging visas

  1. I regard Mr Pezzullo’s announced internal Customs assessment of procedures and process in Monday’s interception near Christmas Island that involved the death of two asylum seekers, a woman and young boy, as a positive development. I am cautiously optimistic. Maybe this is the first step on the road to a public coronial inquest?.

    However, I hope that in any case the documents, imagery and conclusions from the internal inquiry will be made public,: and that they will include reports of any phonecalls made to and from Ocean Protector before and during the interception.

    I hope the media will follow this significant story. Congratulations to the HazaraAsylumSeekers site for picking it up- I first read it here today..

  2. Laolass

    An inquest is a waste of our money. A boat overturned,two died, sad but that’s the risk taken. Time the boats were stopped!

    • saimaali

      why should boats were stopped, do u think u hv any idea about the situation of those living through in counrty like Pakistan where 200 people got kill in one day and who risk their lives through boat to Australian?. i don’t think soo because u don’t know any thing about the persecution and target killing of these people in Pakistan and also in Afghanistan. the Hazara People are not happy to risk their lives in this horrific journey but because they have no choose other than seek asylum to Australia, in hope that they will get to a place where they feel safe and free.

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