KASAMA Vol. 24 No. 2 / April-May-June 2010 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

‘New’ Coalition Immigration Policy
an Unwelcome Blast From the Past

The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) has expressed dismay at the Coalition’s new border security policy

Welcome Refugees Day of Protest in Brisbane
The policy outlines the Coalition’s plan to increasingly focus on offshore processing of asylum seekers, to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and to reintroduce the 45- day rule for lodging asylum claims.

“This ‘new’ policy is far from ‘new’,” said FECCA Chair, Pino Migliorino. “It is simply a return to the unjust, damaging, border security policy of the Howard years.”

“Offshore processing prevents those seeking asylum from exercising their rights under international law, and denies them access to legal review mechanisms. FECCA is disheartened to find the Coalition seeking to expand this process.

“We have already seen just how injurious the TPV scheme can be. It leaves asylum seekers in a state of limbo — unable to reunite with their families, unable to put down roots for fear of deportation after their short term visa has expired, unable to leave the country if they want to re-enter. This uncertainty and the lack of a sense of safety also has very serious effects on the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers, as seen in the well documented cases of Detention Stress Disorder.

“The 45-day rule was also a disgrace. It left those persons fleeing persecution, who were unable to frame their claim for asylum immediately on arrival, excluded from much needed benefits, and so left many destitute.

“The removal of both TPVs and the 45-day rule were highly commendable moves by the current government. Their removal signified that Australia had begun to view asylum seekers with humanity and compassion.

“We do note, however, the Coalition’s proposal to cancel the suspension on visa processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan Refugees. This suspension was punitive and discriminatory – further adding to the plight of those already seeking refuge from persecution.

“Australia has a responsibility to afford those seeking asylum their full human rights and to treat them with dignity,” concluded Mr Migliorino. “The Coalition’s ‘new’ policy is a huge step backwards in this regard.”

27 May 2010
Media Comment: Pino Migliorino
Phone: 04 11 137 700