19 March 2012

Independent bill in bid to end Australian immigration row

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A bill put forward by an Independent MP in an attempt to end the Australian immigration row will go to a vote in Australian parliament today.

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Independent MP Rob Oakeshott proposed his own solution to the Australian immigration row.

Rob Oakeshott introduced the private member's bill last month in the hopes of proposing a compromise in the ever worsening Australian immigration situation. A deadlock exists between the government with its failed Malaysia solution and the opposing Coalition with their offshore processing plan on Nauru.

Mr Oakeshott's plan would allow the immigration minister to designate any one of the 50 countries in the Bali Process, a group dedicated to fighting people smuggling, as an offshore assessment country.

The current immigration minister, Chris Bowen, welcomed the bill, claiming it provided a great alternative to the deadlock.

"If this bill passes, it will save lives," said Mr Bowen, adding that if the bill is passed, the government would consider moving some amendments.

The opposition's immigration spokesperson, Scott Morrison however, said Mr Oakeshott was merely 'doing the government's bidding', claiming it was 'no more than a carbon copy of the government's bill'.

Mr Morrison claims the bill would allow the government to resume their 'Malaysia Solution', a people swap deal with Malaysia which was struck down as unlawful by the High Court last year.

The government had hoped to negotiate with the Coalition in order to come to their own compromise but talks quickly fell through.

Mr Oakeshott said he was frustrated by the stalling and bitter snipes each party was taking at the other.

"I think it is the worst debate in the last 20 years on Australian public policy," he said.

Mr Oakeshott isn't confident his bill will pass, saying it will either 'win by one [vote] or lose by one' but proud of his efforts to broker a solution to the problem.

"I want to at least know that I had a go."

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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