Ruddock extends temporary visas

Issue 

BY SARAH STEPHEN

The concept of "temporary" protection was first introduced into Australia with the passing of legislation on October 20, 1999. Since then, 8400 people, 88% of those who have arrived in Australia by boat since July 1999, have been granted refugee status. All these people will have to re-prove that they are refugees three years later, and if they fail, they can be deported.

Since October 1999, refugees living in Australia on temporary protection visas (TPVs) have a dark cloud of uncertainty bearing over them, making it much harder to begin a new life.

To date, only refugees arriving in Australia without a visa — unauthorised arrivals — were given TPVs. As of August 28, the government will include people who arrive in Australia with a valid visa, and then successfully apply for asylum. The only refugees eligible to receive a permanent visa will be those whom Ruddock exercises his ministerial discretion for.

In 2002-03, immigration department figures show 3607 people arrived as visitors then applied onshore for refugee status. Of these, 869 were successful.

This new law will cause unnecessary suffering to many more refugees. TPVs should be replaced with permanent protection.

From Green Left Weekly, September 3, 2003.

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