15 June 2012

Opposition outrage at Australian immigration run asylum seeker website

Opposition politicians in Australia have reacted angrily at the launch of a new website run by the Australian immigration department which seemingly offers advice to asylum seekers arriving illegally in the country.

Australian immigration

Opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison has ridiculed the website which offers advice to asylum seekers.

Opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison ridiculed the website, which offers advice to 'irregular maritime arrivals', people arriving in the country without a valid Australia visa, as out of touch with public opinion on the asylum seeker issue.

"It shows [irregular maritime arrivals] how they can access the protection system, it shows them what entitlements they will have to taxpayer funded legal advice, migration experts, their appeal rights through the courts," said Mr Morrison.

"It is basically an open invitation to come on down and try your luck."

Mr Morrison even quipped the site could 'effectively be called captainemad.com', referring to the case of alleged people smuggling kingpin Captain Emad, who managed to escape Australia after being accused of human trafficking by investigative journalism programme Four Corners last month.

The site, which forms part of the official Australian immigration department's website, offers objective advice to potential asylum seekers, informing them that simply getting to Australia successfully does not guarantee refugee status.

'Not everyone is entitled to Australia's protection, even if you come from a country where there is violence or a lack of security,' reads the website.

However, with the ongoing asylum seeker situation in Australia which has seen almost double the numbers of asylum seekers arrive this month than the federal budget has accounted for, Mr Morrison says the website promotes a message the government should be avoiding.

"The establishment of an official online how-to guide for people arriving on illegal boats to come and claim asylum is an absolutely gobsmacking decision by this government that sends all the wrong possible messages."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen defended the website, claiming its establishment is intended to dispel some of the myths people smugglers use to exploit unassuming and often desperate asylum seekers.

"This information is not new and has always been publicly available on the Immigration website," said Mr Bowen.

"It's important to counter the false promises people smugglers are peddling to get asylum seekers on boats."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their Australia visa applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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