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senate vote 2013-12-02#4

Edited by mackay

on 2017-09-27 18:24:12


  • Regulations and Determinations — Disallowance
  • Regulations - Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013 - Disallow


  • <p class="speaker">Sarah Hanson-Young</p>
  • <p>I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That the Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013, as contained in Select Legislative Instrument 2013 No. 234 and made under the Migration Act 1958, be disallowed.</p>
  • The majority voted in favour of a [motion to disallow]( the Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013, which means this Regulation will no longer have legal force.
  • Among other things, this Regulation reintroduced [temporary protection visas]( Read more in its [explanatory memorandum](
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That the [Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013](, as contained in Select Legislative Instrument 2013 No. 234 and made under the Migration Act 1958, be disallowed.*
  • <p>It is with both thankfulness and sadness in this place that this motion has had to be moved today. I am thankful that the Senate is able to stop terrible pieces of legislation when indeed it needs to, and that in the case of a piece of regulation it is still the parliament that has the opportunity to view regulations and make a decision as to whether they are indeed in the best interests of the Australian public or in the best public policy interest at all. It is with sadness, though, that this regulation was ever tabled by the government. We know that the disastrous effects of temporary protection visas on genuine refugees are real. The reason we know that is that we have seen the dramatic, harmful and dangerous effects firsthand. We have had temporary protection visas before in this country and they were incredibly cruel, incredibly dangerous and created incredible suffering for the people they were imposed upon.</p>
  • <p>The cruelty of this particular government's approach to refugees is nothing more than an attack on Australia's generous heart. It is no better exemplified than in the use of temporary protection visas. Temporary protection visas under this government are for punishment's sake only. They are only being given to people who have already arrived in Australia. They have waited for years in immigration detention and then waited more years perhaps on a bridging visa or in community detention only to finally have their application for asylum assessed, be found to be genuine refugees and then be slapped with a temporary protection visa.</p>
  • <p>I am pleased to say standing here tonight that the result of this motion will mean that we will rid the statute books of the use of these cruel visas which keep refugees&#8212;men, women and children&#8212;in limbo for three years with the fear always hanging over them of being deported back to the places they had to flee because of war, torture and persecution. No longer will these refugees have to continue to live in limbo. By scrapping the Abbott government's attack on vulnerable refugees, this motion will enable these people to be reunited with their family members, live a life free of fear and start putting their lives back together again&#8212;free of uncertainty.</p>
  • <p>Australia is a compassionate nation and the support for this motion tonight reflects the values that we hold dear. We are the country of a fair go. We are a country that says if you deserve help, you go through the process and we offer you that protection. Temporary protection visas of course leave those who are most deserving living a life in limbo. By passing this motion we are indeed upholding our reputation as a caring nation. Under this particular policy, Prime Minister Abbott is once again favouring punishment over protection. When it comes to the most genuine refugees, that is indeed the cruellest and harshest response we could take.</p>
  • <p>Temporary protection visas are cruel. They are inhuman and their harmful effects on refugees and their families can exist for a lifetime. We know that under the Howard government, when temporary protection visas were used, they never worked as a deterrent. I want to go to a couple of key reasons why we know that is the case. In 1999, when temporary protection visas were first introduced, they did not stop the flow of asylum seekers coming here by boat; in fact they had the reverse effect. In the two years prior to temporary protection visas being introduced, 1,078 people arrived by boat. In the two years after temporary protection visas were introduced, that number went to over 8,000&#8212;eight times as many people came by boat after the Howard government introduced temporary protection visas. That is a 700 per cent increase.</p>
  • <p>These visas never worked as a deterrent. All they did was punish the most vulnerable, the most genuine, the most deserving refugees simply for having dared seek protection for their families. Refugees on temporary protection visas often refer to living in fear of being returned home, once their visas expire, to face the dangers they fled in the first place. Of course their fear extends to the family members that they have had to leave behind and they are not able to be reunited with under the temporary protection visa rules. This constant fear, this constant uncertainty, this constant limbo leaves very capable people with nothing. It is very hard as a refugee to start putting your life back together while you are being told the entire time by the government of the day that you may be sent back to the hands of the Taliban. How are you meant to hold down a job if, in that three-year period, you may be turned around and sent home? How can you develop a proper connection with your community and start contributing positively to society if you are worried the entire time about the treatment at the hands of the Taliban of your family back home, who are never able to come to Australia while you remain in this limbo.</p>
  • <p>Of the 11,206 temporary protection visas that were granted between 1999 and 2008 when the Labor Party&#8212;and kudos where kudos is due&#8212;removed temporary protection visas the first time around, only five per cent of those people were not given permanent protection in Australia. Let me say that again: 11,206 temporary protection visa holders, and 95 per cent of them were then able to stay in Australia permanently after we had put them through the turmoil, the torture and the uncertainty of having to live in limbo, with the fear of being sent back to the hands of their persecutors. These people deserve the permanent protection of our borders, not a life of uncertainty and continued oppression.</p>
  • <p>It is crucial that we understand the negative impact that this is going to have on the women and children in refugee families. We know that, when family reunion was denied, more women and children were forced to take perilous boat journeys. The very real human impact of that was no better exemplified than by the SIEVX tragedy. In the SIEVX disaster in October 2001, when 353 asylum seekers drowned on their way to Australia, the majority of those people&#8212;288 of them&#8212;were women and children who were there because they could not come on a family reunion visa.</p>
  • <p>This policy is dangerous, it is risky and it does nothing to deter people from taking those dangerous journeys. It is impractical, it is ineffective and it issues punishment for punishment's sake. Of the arrivals of people who came to Australia once temporary protection visas were first introduced, the numbers of women and children increased substantially. Women went from comprising seven per cent of arrivals in the two years prior to temporary protection visas to 20 per cent in the two years after. Children went from comprising seven per cent in the two years prior to temporary protection visas to becoming almost a quarter of all boat arrivals in the years following the introduction of temporary protection visas. The facts are clear. Temporary protection visas risk people's lives. By taking away family reunion the government is creating a greater incentive for the people smugglers to take advantage of people's vulnerability.</p>
  • <p>Temporary protection visas leave open the possibility of returning vulnerable refugees to their homelands, as I have already said. We cannot let this government's cruelty continue to spread beyond not just their political rhetoric, but right into the lives and hearts of genuine refugees who have been through so much in order to get here. These TPVs are in many ways being used retrospectively, because they are only being given to people who have already arrived here in Australia. Many, as I have already said, have spent many years in immigration detention. They have had their cases checked, they have been kept from their families for this long, they have been through the suffering of indefinite and long-term detention, only now to get out the other end, being recognised as people who had to flee the tortures and brutalities of war and persecution, and then be slapped again by the Australia government, who say, 'While we think you're a refugee and we accept that you are, we'll only pretend that that is the case for maybe three years or so.' That is not how a responsible, a compassionate, or even practical country deals with the issues relating to refugees in our region.</p>
  • <p>We have to get past this idea that the domestic politics of the day should dominate. This is about people's lives. There is no better example of cruel policy for its own sake than the reintroduction of temporary protection visas, which failed to protect, failed to care for and, in fact, risked the lives of people and cost the lives of many women and children along the way. It is irresponsible. It is dangerous. And I am thankful tonight, standing here, that this Senate may very well make the right decision to rid the statute books of temporary protection visas and put us on a path of coming up with ways of managing the needs of refugees by looking through a humanitarian lens and not just through the nasty gutter politics of the day-to-day election polls.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>