February 11, 2014
The Greens are fighting to overturn the Abbott government’s reintroduction of a controversial temporary asylum visa that prevents asylum seekers from gaining permanent residency.
The ”temporary humanitarian concern” visa was reintroduced by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison after a failed bid to resurrect the temporary protection visa in December.
The TPV was used for nearly a decade under the Howard government and was criticised by human rights advocates as being counter-productive and potentially psychologically damaging.
Labor has since voiced its opposition to the introduction of a temporary visa.
”This is blatant attempt to steamroll Parliament,” the opposition immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said.
On Wednesday, the Greens will launch a disallowance motion in the Senate, saying the visa is the same as the TPV, which was voted down by Labor and the Senate.
”The Senate made it clear to the government that it would not accept these cruel and punitive visas,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said. ”The Coalition has arrogantly ignored the parliamentary rules, though, and has again attempted to sneak temporary protection in through the back door.
”Without lasting protection, refugees can never settle in a new country because the threat of return constantly hangs over their heads. For refugees, being returned home can be a death sentence.”
Senator Hanson-Young said the visa’s initial purpose was to give asylum to ethnic Albanians fleeing Kosovo and Timorese escaping Timor in the 1990s. According to statistics from the Refugee Council of Australia, the visa has not been granted since 2009. Since 2000, only 387 visas have been offered.
Under this visa, asylum seekers will be not be able apply for family reunions, nor will they be able to settle in Australia permanently.
It will retrospectively apply to the 20,000 asylum seekers who have arrived by boat and are waiting on bridging visas. Asylum seekers do not have the right to apply for the visa. Instead, they must be invited by Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison. Once they take up the offer, they can never reapply for permanent residency.
On Friday, Mr Morrison said he had used the visa to deny permanent visas to ”illegal arrivals”.
”The Senate’s actions in disallowing TPV regulations has meant that the government has had to look at existing temporary visa options to achieve the same outcome,” he said.