The Government’s decision to suspend the granting of new permanent protection visas for asylum seekers is 'a new low' in Australia’s treatment of these vulnerable people', says Edmund Rice Centre director, Phil Glendenning.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Glendening said: “By capping onshore protection visas at just 1,650 places, the Government is condemning refugees who have already been found to be owed protection by Australia, to a life of fear and uncertainty on bridging visas.
'This policy announcement from the Government, in response to the defeat in the Senate of their attempt to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visa legislation, is a petty act. This is partisan politics at its worst,' Mr Glendenning stated.
'Australians would rightly be ashamed of a Federal Government that is so willing to inflict cruelty and punishment on people fleeing persecution and torture, simply in order to teach their political opponents a lesson.'
'Suspending the granting of new permanent refugee protection visas will serve to exacerbate a deteriorating protection environment for the world’s refugee and asylum seekers,' Mr Glendenning said.
'In industrialised countries in 2012, asylum applications world-wide increased by 8 percent from the previous year – reaching the second-highest level in the past 10 years. At a time when the number of people displaced by persecution and conflict in the world is increasing, Australia is turning its back on those in urgent need.
'These refugees have been assessed to be in need of protection from persecution. Even though they might currently be living in a legal limbo in the community, the Government must accept the reality that one way or another many of them, will become long-term residents,' Mr Glendenning said.
'Past experience from the Howard Government years clearly shows that the great majority of people granted TPVs were never able to return home safely and ultimately were given permanent protection in Australia.'
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