The long-awaited announcement that Labor will at long last grant permanent visas to 19,000 refugees surviving on temporary visas (TPVs and SHEVs) is a welcome step to fulfilling their election promises to people seeking asylum and refugees. But much more is needed.
While 19,000 refugees will now be eligible for permanent visas, Labor has not abolished TPVs and SHEVs as promised.
There is no announcement about the fate of the 10,000 rejected under Morrison’s fast track refugee assessment process although Labor promised to abolish fast track.
And while the asylum seekers who arrived by boat after July 2013 but were not sent offshore will be eligible for permanent visas, those who were sent offshore but are now in Australia will not.
“While we welcome today’s announcement, Labor must end the limbo for all refugees and asylum seekers,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The contradictions in Labor’s policies must be urgently addressed.”
In making today’s announcement, Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said that “Without permanent visas however, [those on TPVs and SHEVS] have been unable to get a loan to buy a house, build their businesses or pursue further education. It makes no sense — economically or socially — to keep them in limbo.”
“It makes no sense for Labor to leave the thousands of others – asylum seekers rejected by fast track, and the refugees from Nauru in and PNG, in limbo, but they have,” said Rintoul.
“Labor’s piecemeal approach will only add to the distress of some refugees on TPVs. While they get a permanent visa, their partners and other family members who are ‘transitory persons’ from offshore, are being told they will not get permanent residency.
“Labor has to bite the bullet; they have the numbers in Parliament and support in the community to grant permanent visas to all.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713