Palmer Deals on New Refugee Visa
25 September 2014 at 12:32 pm
The Palmer United Party has done a deal with the Federal Government to reintroduce a type of Temporary Protection Visa to allow refugee families to remain on the mainland, particularly in regional Australia.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has introduced legislation to Parliament to create a new visa called a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHAV).
PUP Party leader Clive Palmer said negotiations with the Government and the Minister for Immigration had resulted in keeping 1,550 people in Australia who would have otherwise been transferred to Nauru or Manus Island from Christmas Island and mainland Australia.
“These people include 436 children and their families and 32 unaccompanied minors,” Palmer said.
“The visa would be valid for five years and allows for the visa holder to be located in a region identified through a national nomination process.”
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament that the new visa would not allow for permanent settlement in Australia and would, therefore, not act to encourage the people smuggling trade.
"This will help ensure that the tap stays off, that it will never return and we will never go back to the cost and chaos and tragedy that was put in place under the previous Government," he told Parliament.
However Clive Palmer said that “during the five year period, visa holders have an opportunity to provide bona fides and contribute to Australian society by paying taxes and adding to the economy’s productivity levels.”
“It’s a win for refugees who now have a safe haven visa and can protect themselves and work towards establishing themselves in an Australian community.
“And it’s a win for regional Australia, which will benefit from the additional work resources in communities where there is a labour shortage, thereby increasing the viability of these areas.”
Palmer said the new visa arrangement would also see processes to allow the caseload of 30,000 Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMAs) to be resolved, resulting in billions of dollars of savings to the Australian Government and positive contributions to the Australian economy.
He said the SHAV encourages enterprise through earning and learning while also strengthening regional Australia.
“Areas identified are those locations in Australia where labour resources are most needed.These visa holders will be targeted to regions and encouraged to fill regional vacancies,’’ Palmer said.
“Following full employment and positive community involvement for a period of 3.5 years, the visa holder can apply for an onshore visa.
“Holders of SHEVs will be eligible for work rights, access to employment services and mutual obligations, Medicare, trauma counselling, translation services, complex case support and access to education for school aged children.”
As part of the deal, Palmer said the Government had also agreed to cease transferring people, who arrived prior to December 19, 2013 and are currently on the Australian mainland and Christmas Island, to Nauru or Manus Island for offshore processing.
“The Government has also agreed to continue to support assisted voluntary return packages, particularly as a mechanism to reunite unaccompanied minors with their families in their home countries,” he said.
“The Palmer United Party will support these measures as they reduce billions of dollars of expenditure which can be used for crucial services including health and education.”
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Immigration, Richard Marles said the Temporary Safe Haven Enterprise Visas appear to provide a pathway to citizenship.
“If that is the case of itself it is a good thing, but this represents a humiliating back down on the part of this Minister at the behest of Clive Palmer.
However Marles said Labor opposes Temporary Protection Visas. “
“We oppose them because they put people in a permanent state of limbo. To have a situation where you are being assessed, a costly assessment, each and every three years in a rolling way puts people in a permanent state of limbo.”
“We do acknowledge the needs of regional Australia and we will be having a good look at this legislation in terms of how it can contribute to that.”
The Australian Greens said the TPV deal struck between the Coalition and the Palmer United Party will see thousands of refugees doomed to a life of permanent limbo and many more families and children left to languish in the offshore gulags on Nauru and Manus Island.
"This deal has seen Palmer being played by the ruthless Abbott Government," the Greens' Immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"Temporary Protection Visas leave refugees living in a permanent limbo without family reunion.
"Under these new rules, the road to permanent residency is long, extremely narrow and most refugees will never make it.
"The bill introduced today is a shocking piece of legislation. TPVs are just one part of the far reaching and indiscriminate cruelty it contains,” she said.
"Scrapping the Refugee Convention from Australian law is an appalling move that clearly shows what this government thinks when it comes to protecting those in need."