Rift Over Refugee Bill

Rift over refugee bill

The Age
September 10, 2009

COALITION passions will be inflamed again as the Government moves to offer safe haven to people facing genital mutilation, torture, stoning or death.

A bill to widen the definition of ''refugee'' was introduced into the lower house yesterday after months of Coalition splintering over changes aimed at making Australia's treatment of refugees more humane.

The rift caused a heated backroom exchange between senators on Tuesday. Shadow cabinet will scour the most recent proposal next Monday.

Called ''complementary protection'', it extends protection rights to those left exposed by the 1951 definition of refugee. These are people who face dangers in their homeland for reasons other than race, political persuasion, religion or nationality.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon and the Greens senators have indicated support for the change. Family First's Steve Fielding and Liberal Judith Troeth have yet to finalise a position.