Labor’s attack on air arrivals feeds government anti-refugee policies

| February 18, 2020 | Reply

The Refugee Action Coalition has called on the Labor party to end its campaign against asylum seekers arriving by air.

The contradiction between the Liberals’ hardline attitude to asylum seekers arriving by boat and those arriving by plane has been a longstanding feature of the government’s discriminatory polices directed at boat arrivals.

“Recent comments from Labor shadow home affairs minister, Kristina Keneally, calling for stronger action against asylum seekers arriving by plane are counter-productive,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Rather than countering the Coalition’s anti-refugee policies, the calls to curb asylum seekers arriving by air bolsters Dutton’s border policing stance and government rhetoric about people smugglers that is directed against boat arrivals.”

There are already too many Border Force officers patrolling overseas airports to prevent asylum seekers reaching Australia. Single Saudi women trying to reach Australia to seek asylum have been targeted by Border Force officers. In August last year, six Malaysian women had their tourist visas cancelled and were blocked from flying from Kuala Lumpur to Perth for a holiday.

“The government are refugee hypocrites, but it’s the laws against boat arrivals that have to be overturned,” said Rintoul. Plane arrivals found to be refugees are granted permanent protection. However, boat arrivals who are found to be refugees are only granted temporary protection visas (TPV).

This causes enormous hardship. TPV holders face permanent uncertainty; are denied family reunion; cannot travel without permission; they and their children do not have education rights and they have their cases reviewed every three years. The fast track assessment process that boat arrivals are subjected to is designed for them to fail.

The government has created a permanent underclass in Australia. There are tens of thousands of TPV holders and asylum seekers rejected under the fast track system, living in the Australian community.

It is Labor policy to scrap the fast track process and to grant permanent visas to everybody found to be a refugee. “We need a much stronger campaign from Labor in support of permanent protection,” said Rintoul, “That would be a real blow against Dutton and Pezullo’s hypocrisy and a step toward the humanitarian policy that is needed for all asylum seekers.”

“Welcome Refugees” rallies will be held across Australia on Palm Sunday, 5 April to call for an end of offshore detention and for permanent protection for all refugees.

For more information, contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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