19 December 2008

Worsening conditions overseas reasons for more asylum seekers in Australia: Smith

The Opposition has been accusing the Rudd Government that its policy on Australian immigration is sending a message to asylum seekers that Australia has 'gone soft'; however, the Federal Government argue that worsening conditions has been the driving force between the recent influx, reports ABC News.

The Opposition blame the Government's decisions to remove temporary protection Australian visas and give the Navy a longer Christmas holiday has caused an influx of people smuggling to Australia.

This week, the Navy intercepted the seventh boat of suspected asylum seekers in Australian waters since September.

Yet Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the worsening conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka are the causes for the influx, not changes to Australian immigration policy.

"It is the push factors, what is occurring in and around our region in terms of troubled territory and difficult circumstances in other countries that causes people to flee," he said.

"And secondly we made the changes to the temporary protection visa arrangements in March or April or May and we didn't see an immediate response to that."

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans agreed with Smith's comments.

"The arrivals are about the same as last year and there's no large increase in numbers.  But we have seen a spate of arrivals in a short period of time," he said.

"The Government's concerned about that and we're doing everything we can to deter people smuggling.  We'll certainly be prosecuting people with the full force of the law for people smuggling 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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