10 December 2008

Rudd's abolishment of Australian temporary protection visas called soft

The Federal Opposition is making it clear to the Rudd government their abolishment of the temporary protection visas for asylum seekers is making Australia look like an easy target for people smugglers, reports The Age.

The government has intercepted six boats filled with people trying to migrate to Australia during recent months, and the Opposition says the increased incidences of people smuggling to the country is a reaction to a softening of the Australian immigration laws.

In August, the Rudd government abolished temporary protection visas, which were introduced by the Howard government in 1999.  These three-year Australian visas allowed recognised refugees who were detained in detention centres to stay in Australia temporarily without access to civil and social benefits usually provided for permanent Australian residents.  Holders of this visa could not travel overseas or find employment in Australia.

Leader of the Opposition told reporters the latest wave of people smuggling shows Australia has become an easy target for illegal Australian immigration.

"When the government abolished these temporary protection visas they said it would have no impact on the level of people smuggling," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

"(But) we have the word of the International Organisation for Migration's head of mission in Indonesia that the Australian government has sent a signal to people smugglers that it has gone soft on the security of our borders.

"This sixth vessel is a long-ignored wake-up call to Mr Rudd that his policy in August has been a mistake."

However, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said the government has stepped up its security during what his government calls "seasonal activity".

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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