Vanstone Blasts ALP ‘Anti-Visa’ Stance

Vanstone blasts ALP 'anti-visa' stance
October 16, 2006 – 7:54PM
The Age (Melbourne)

A plan by Labor to withdraw support for the government's contentious temporary protection visas will invite people smugglers to “come on down”, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone says.

The ALP's social policy committee last week recommended the party advocate for the abolition of the three-year visas.

TPVs are given to refugees who arrive in Australia illegally and are found to need protection, but give them less access to social services than those on permanent visas.

Senator Vanstone said the opposition's possible change of heart over the visas could encourage a new wave of illegal asylum seekers.

“Scrapping TPVs would send a clear message to people smugglers and their potential clients that they should risk their lives on the treacherous seas north of Australia to reach our shores,” she said in a statement.

“(Opposition immigration spokesman Tony) Burke's telling people smugglers to come on down.

“Just floating this change could in itself encourage a new wave of unauthorised boat arrivals.”

Labor for Refugees, an ALP sub-group, says it will campaign to have the party's official support for TPVs dumped at next year's national conference.

“In the run-up to April we'll be talking to party members, branches and unions about why permanent protection is the way to go,” the group's co-convener Daniel Mookhey said.

“Australians have always treated the less fortunate fairly and with compassion. It's about time we have a government that does the same,” he said in a statement.

Mr Burke released a statement last week saying he would consider the party's social policy committee report.

“Earlier this year, as part of a wider review, I asked the Labor social policy committee to consider the appropriateness of TPVs given international developments since the policy was last considered,” he said.