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Seeking Asylum
<p>Ella Rubeli/The Global Mail</p>

Ella Rubeli/The Global Mail

Morrison: Different Strokes For Same Boats

Now you can go from refugee to TPV – and suddenly get only temporary protection – depending on the paperwork flow in Australia’s bureaucracy.


The Coalition’s plan to issue temporary protection visas (TPVs) retrospectively means some people already found to be genuine refugees will not be entitled to permanent settlement or family reunion in Australia.

This means that the fate of some refugees who arrived in Australia at the same time – even on the same boat – will have been dictated by the speed with which the government processed their visa.

TPVs, which were introduced by former prime minister John Howard in 1999 and dumped during the Rudd government, allow temporary work rights. They offer no path to citizenship nor, in breach of the UN refugee convention, any right to family reunion.

Adelaide migration agent Libby Hogarth says that she works with 35 people who have been found to be refugees, some more than two years ago, but whose permanent refugee visas have yet to be issued.

“The retrospective intent of this legislation will be devastating”

“That means that some of our clients who came in 2010 and 2011, and who have been found to be refugees but are still waiting for visas, will now only get a TPV,” she says.

“In the meantime, others who arrived with them and who were processed quickly are nearly up to getting Australian citizenship. Is this a fair go for all?”

In most cases, delays in processing visas for people already recognised as genuine refugees hinge on security clearances or character issues determined by other government agencies such as ASIO. The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says there are “well over 100” refugees in this situation around Australia.

In response to questions from The Global Mail at the November 8 Operation Sovereign Borders briefing in Sydney, the Minister for Immigration and Border Control Scott Morrison said it would be “hypocritical” of the Coalition government not to reintroduce temporary-protection visas for asylum seekers with retrospective effect.

“We have been crystal clear about that policy since it was first introduced by the Howard government. People who come to Australia illegally by boat will not get a permanent visa under a Coalition government, whether they turned up before or they turned up after,” the minister said.

“The Coalition does not believe that people who turned up the wrong way should get permanent residency in Australia. It would be quite hypocritical of us if we were to then hand out permanent visas to people who arrived illegally by boat.”

Migration agent Hogarth dismisses this argument, saying: “How can you say to people that arrived on the same boat that some can have permanent visas and that others can’t?”

“The government is saying, ‘Forget about your wives and kids, leave them to be bombed in Quetta or go back and join them.’”

“The retrospective intent of this legislation will be devastating for our clients who have been waiting already two or three years for visas. Some of these guys are hardly functioning now and yet we are expected to advise them that they will not get [a permanent visa].”

Professor Louise Newman from Monash University’s School of Psychology and Psychiatry, says the implementation of retrospective TPVs would be “a recipe for creating mental health problems”.

“We saw after the last time [under the Howard government] that many people couldn’t move on with their lives because this was hanging over their heads.

“Predictably, we’ll see people become agitated and distressed again as they realise the situation. Many of these people come from extremely vulnerable backgrounds, and this will further stress them.

“I really think there is a lack of longitudinal thinking about what is likely to happen with these people. It is important that we collect data on that.”

The government reviews a TPV holder’s status every three years; refugees can be deported if conditions in their home country are deemed to have changed such that they are no longer considered to be in danger there.

Hogarth is emphatic that this, and the fact that the visa doesn’t grant the right to family reunion, is punitive.

“No one seems to understand [that by re-instituting TPVs] the government is saying, ‘Forget about your wives and kids, leave them to be bombed in Quetta or go back and join them, but do not ever think of bringing them here as we are not going to let you,’” she says.

“Some have already lost family members in Pakistan since they arrived in Australia and they live in fear every day that their wives or children will be killed.

“For a country that signed the convention, it beggars belief.”

15 comments on this story
by Marilyn

Ali Bakhtiyari arrived here on 29 October 1999 only to discover that he had been caught in a trap of retrospective laws which saw the hell that family was subjected to by the Ruddock mob over 4 years.

And this still has to pass the parliament, Morrison is not yet a dictator.

November 8, 2013 @ 8:07pm
by Lynne Wright

Totally ashamed once again. Talk about back to the future. I can't believe Australians voted this government in.

November 9, 2013 @ 8:24am
by Brian

I wonder if the lack of responses to this story is because we are all so ashamed, so sickened by it that we are speechless; without words?

November 9, 2013 @ 8:51am
by Bess Fowler

This is inhumane. Appealing to the least thoughtful in our community with Tony Abbott's hate politics.
Even the arch conservative and hacker Rupert Murdoch applauds migration. Australia is lessened by this approach.

November 9, 2013 @ 9:44am
by Jason Pistol

All aussies ever say is "we are not racist" but are not able to walk the talk. Pathetic.

November 9, 2013 @ 12:14pm
by Peter Hannemann

A TPV is the same as asking Jews to wear a yellow star. Today is the anniversary of the "Kristallnacht". Jews lost their jobs under the Nazis. Today we are sacking scientist. They are not required any more. Climate Change is an idea of "religious zealots". Don't you see the pattern?

November 9, 2013 @ 12:16pm
by Val

I have noticed everywhere in department of immigration web site, here in this article always mentioned TPVS are for those who came to Australia illigal by boat. However most of you going to be surprised but I'm HIV positive I was recognized as a refugee in December last year, I came to Australia in August last year from Russia by airplane with genuine Russian passport and valid Australian visa, but do you know what case manager told me in September? She told me that I'm eligible only for TPV! Do you know why? Because as my case manager says I didn't clear customs! I don't have Australian entry stamp in my passport! Unbelievable I'm in shock, I have HIV and now this Government offers me a TPV! Moreover every three years I should be assessed again , may be I'll be magically cured from HIV, what a nonsense !
I am really stressed because of DIAC's slow motions they wasted almost one year trying to get all security checks which finally were completed in September this year. But new government came and here we are instead of promised Permanent residence by DIAC officials they going to give me TPV! No words, just emotions .

November 9, 2013 @ 2:25pm
by frederika steen

Coalition bottom line: the Refugee Convention can be ignored; Ruddock tried and failed to have it reviewed, so now you just ignore the legal obligations because there is little international punishment, or so they think.
Boat arriving asylum seekers cannot meet our Coalition ( rebadging is a political right for winners) Australian definition of refugee because the "boatpeople" are self selecting and do not wait in UNHCR pools "overthere" for us to cherry pick selected, nice refugees for resettlement in our lucky country.

We will choose our refugee migrants and negate asylum seekers ; we will have immigration control above humanitarian solutions.
Today's politicians seem to have no knowledge of history and are goose stepping down the wrong path. The social legacy of the Howard TPV is awful and not well documented. It damaged our society, not only the refugees and their dependants. And here we go again....

This tired volunteer at Romero Centre , Brisbane 2001-2009 fears the worst, which is forced deportations back to danger and death because "Australians" do not want Muslims/suntanned people here. Go figure.

November 9, 2013 @ 3:35pm
by peter

This government, like the previous government, and the one before that....absolutely sicken me.

November 9, 2013 @ 7:15pm
by Michael Creswell

Why is anyone surprised at the ineptitude, the callousness, the indifference to informed opinion, its handling of international relations with its ability to antagonize friends and lose influence of this Abbott government. He, and they, are only doing what he, and they (when they were allowed to say anything) said they'd do and the majority of Australians unthinkingly elected a government which by the end of their term in office will have done incalculable harm to Australians and Australia. We have unfortunately bred a generation that is incapable of asking penetrating questions such as why? who? what? or when?, let alone thinking beyond the present.

J,M,D, Pringle, a former editor of the "Sydney Morning Herald" during the 1950s wrote after he left in his book "Australian Accent" that when he first heard Parliament broadcast, as it was in those days on 2BL (now Radio National) he first thing that came into his mind the adage that people get the government they deserve. The second was surely no people deserve a government as bad as this. That was during the Menzies era. To understate the present the mind boggles to consider what he would say about this Abbott government.

November 10, 2013 @ 12:23am
by Anne

After the screw up that is now Europe and UK maybe we should learn from them and be a little cautious

November 10, 2013 @ 2:12am
by ANON

The moving goalposts syndrome is well known in medical regulatory circles - Australian doctors qualifying after 1995, Australian doctors who do their specialist training overseas and those from Overseas suffer a certain type discrimination in evaluation and eligibility to be granted Medicare Provider numbers.

A military operation for controlling borders now gives legitamacy to secrecy and bullying and other human rights breaches. We may as well declare martial law.

November 10, 2013 @ 10:17am
Show previous 12 comments
by sanyo

@Anne: your assertion that Europe & the UK are 'screw ups', whilst being woefully generalist & reductionist, also flies in the face of evidence. Across the 'old continent' centuries of human migration has only served to deepen & enrich human culture. Of course, there have been, & will continue to be, instances where the close communion of people with fundamentally different thoughts on the way society should be structured results in a myriad of undesirable outcomes - war being the most destructive & saddest of all. But for every person who fears the 'other', I would suggest there is another who embraces difference & approaches the newcomer with love & compassion.

I am eurasian - assuming your argument is basically against the movement of people across arbitrarily pronounced national borders, are you suggesting that when my parents created me in their love for each other, they were doing both their original societies a disservice? And that I am, in effect, the result of a 'screw up'?

November 12, 2013 @ 11:43am
by Cressida O'Hanlon

Well really, this is what happens when the majority of main stream journalists just don't bother to ask the obvious questions, such as: What will be the consequences of the policies that Tony Abbott espoused in opposition? I now watch the telly and shake my head at the way everyone is jumping up and down at Tony Abbott's style of government. He, and his fellow senior party members were allowed to get away with the most outrageous behavior, the most outrageous lies, and the most outrageous misuse of words, without being challenged by those who are there to challenge them. Not only did the people who voted for the coalition get the government they deserve, but the people, like me, who didn't, have now to put up with this insulting form of government that represents nothing but the lowest form of intelligence, designed to benefit know one but themselves and their like.

November 13, 2013 @ 3:29pm
by Roger Fitzpatrick

Cressida has exactly captured the issue for me. I am so dismayed at the lack of intelligence and basic decency in my fellow Australians that they have elected such a woeful bunch. The ALP can take much of the blame for this but as Cressida says, where was the external scrutiny of the deplorable behaviour by Abbott and the despicable Morrison who will go down in history as exactly that - despicable. I want a Government that will lead and navigate the challenges we face - not a Government that follows the lowest common denominator and panders to the uneducated and ignorant sections of our society.

January 11, 2014 @ 11:19am
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