Coalition outlines tougher asylum seeker policy

The federal Coalition says if it wins the election the 30,000 asylum seekers already in Australia after arriving by boat would never be allowed permanent settlement visas and would be stripped of the right to appeal to the courts.



Opposition leader Tony Abbott has announced another toughening of the Coalition’s asylum policy saying permanent residency for people arriving by boat will become a thing of the past.


Under the Coalition’s plan, those asylum seekers would have their processing fast-tracked and if found to be genuine refugees they would be offered Temporary Protection Visas not permanent residency.


TPVs would be valid for three years, and a Coalition government would not guarantee to renew them.

The Coalition says people on TPVs would not be eligible for citizenship.


Mr Abbott says the tough plans are needed to stop the arrival of asylum seeker boats.


“We will discharge our ordinary humanitarian obligations to you but you just should not expect to get permanent residency. If you are found not to be a refugee, you will be in detention. That’s where you’ll be you’ll be in detention indefinitely. If you are a refugee you will be on a Temporray Protection Visa. Because we have got to send the strongest possible signal, the stongest possible signal to people smugglers and their clients that we are in charge of this country and we will determine who comes here. That is the signal we are sending.”


As part of the tougher policy, the Coalition says it would to scrap the Refugee Review Tribunal and replace it with asylum assesments conducted by Immigration Department caseworkers.


Mr Abbott says asylum seekers whose claims were denied would be removed from Australia – by force if necessary.


Asylum seekers from countries which refuse to accept involuntary returns could be left on Christmas Island indefinitely.


Mr Abbott says asylum seekers’ rights would still be protected.


“Even under our system there’s the assesment, then there’s a second assessment, then there’s a review. So it’s not lightly done. There’s the assesment, there’s if you like a check of the assesment, quality control of the assesment, and then there’s a review. So I am very confident we will get this as right as it can be.”


Mr Abbott says asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without paperwork would be rejected straight away as refugees if it was found they had deliberately thrown their identification out.


Treasurer Chris Bowen says he has his doubts about the policy.


“This is I think the Liberal party pretty desperately trying to get this issue back on the agenda because we have the Papua New Guinea plan in place and it is starting to have some effect. It will take time to have its full effect. Also I see Mr Abbott promising to remove rights of appeal to courts. Well, that’s something that I think will be very, very difficult for him to implement and I am not sure this policy has been thought out properly.”


Greens Immigration spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the plan is another step in the wrong direction.


She says a tougher coalition policy on asylum seekers is another example of what she calls the Coalition’s appalling approach to asylum seekers.


And Senator Hanson-Young says it would be very costly.


“It is shameful. It is cruel. And it is going to cost the Australian taxpayer hundreds of millions and billions of dollars keeping refugees and asylum seekers locked up in indefinite detention is not just damaging to them and their mental healthy, not just cruel, but is going to cost the Australian taxpayer.”


The Coalition says it would also scrap plans for an asylums seeker detention centre at Singleton in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.


The Coalition says the $60-million earmarked to build the centre would be used to build the two-thousand extra places it has promised for processing in Nauru while Australia searched for third country resettlement options.


More than 2,000 asylum seekers have arrived on boats in the month since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced his Papua New Guinea solution.


So far, only a few hundred have been sent to Manus Island under the Labor policy that states they will never be allowed to be resettled in Australia.