Government to reintroduce temporary protection visas in deal with Clive Palmer to ensure Senate success
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has introduced legislation to Parliament to resurrect the Howard-era temporary protection visa (TPVs), and to create a new visa called a safe haven enterprise visa (SHEV).
He has stressed that neither allow for permanent settlement in Australia and will, 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,” Mr Morrison told Parliament.
In a press conference in Brisbane, Mr Palmer announced 1500 people will be moved from Christmas Island to mainland Australia as part of the deal with the government.
“It’s also a good thing that it doesn’t have people locked in a ghetto situation with no hope for themselves or their family,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra that the two visa options – the TPV and the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa – would only be offered to
people who are already in Australia and found to be refugees. Mr Morrison said it would not apply to anyone on Nauru, Manus or who arrived in Australia now.
Under the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa, asylum seekers who are found to be refugees would have to live and work in a regional area.
Under this visa, they could then apply for a range of other visas including a skilled migration visa, which could eventually lead to permanent residency in Australia.
“It means that if they do go to those places and they do work for 3.5 years out of the five, then they may make an onshore application for what could be a student visa, it could be a 457 visa but they would have to meet the eligibility requirements of those visas,” Mr Morrison said.
Family reunion not included in new TPVs
TPVs were brought in by the Howard government and abolished by the Rudd Labor government in 2008.
Mr Morrison said those granted a TPV visa would be entitled to work, receive social security and Medicare benefits – as they had under the last Coalition government.
But they would not have family reunion rights and the visa would be granted for a maximum of three years.
TPVs have been widely criticised for leaving people in limbo, with no certainty about their future, but Mr Morrison disputed that.
“TPVs will provide refugees with stability and a chance to get on with their lives, while at the same time guaranteeing that people smugglers do not have a ‘permanent protection visa product’ to sell to those who are thinking of travelling illegally to Australia,” he said.
He said the visas would allow the Government to deal with about 30,000 asylum seekers whose cases had still not been assessed.
“The challenge of dealing with the legacy case load of some 30,000 people who turned up under Labor, the overwhelming majority of those I should stress who are in the community, not in held detention in this country, that task remains,” he said.
Mr Morrison said he wanted the thousands of cases cleared as soon as possible, but “is not naive”.
“I think it will take years,” he said.
He said the visas would not be available for any new boat arrivals. Under Government policy, they will be processed and resettled in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson Young said Mr Palmer had been “played”, calling the Safe Haven Enterprise visa a “furphy”.
“Most people won’t get it,” she said. “Most people won’t be able to be eligible for any type of transfer to permanency, and so they will be back in permanent limbo.”
Seantor Hanson-Young said she believed most asylum seekers would not be eligible for the new visa.
“I think Clive Palmer has well and truly been played. I think he took on something that was too complex and too big for him to handle.”