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Australia considers temporary visas for refugees

Canberra: Australia's Parliament on Thursday appeared close to passing a bill creating a new class of temporary visas for refugees that will allow them to stay and work in the country for three to five

India TV News Desk Updated on: December 04, 2014 10:58 IST
australia considers temporary visas for refugees
australia considers temporary visas for refugees

Canberra: Australia's Parliament on Thursday appeared close to passing a bill creating a new class of temporary visas for refugees that will allow them to stay and work in the country for three to five years but prevent them from making Australia their permanent home.

More than 30,000 asylum seekers who arrived on Australian shores since August 2012 have yet to have their refugees claims assessed because the government doesn't want them to stay permanently.

The asylum seekers, who fled persecution and fighting in the Middle East and Asia, live in immigration detention camps or in the community under bridging visas that do not permit them to work.

The government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants the Senate to pass legislation that would create a temporary three-year visa for the genuine refugees among them. They could be sent back to their homelands if the threat of persecution had diminished by the time their visas expired.

Refugees could get a five-year visa if they agreed to live and work in areas that are struggling with labor shortages.

Critics argue that such temporary visas would deprive refugees of certainty and stability in their lives because they would still have to move after their visas expire.

Until recently, the government was six votes short of passing the bill. Australian media reports Thursday said the government had obtained the support of five senators and needed just one more to get a majority in the 76-seat Senate.

Clive Palmer, head of the small Palmer United Party, said one of his political allies, Ricky Muir, also supported the legislation, but Muir had not confirmed that.

The government has wooed the senators with a concession to allow asylum seekers on bridging visas to work and a promise to increase Australia's refugee intake.

The Senate has twice rejected such legislation since Abbott's conservative coalition was elected in September last year.

Abbott's government has all but halted the flow of asylum-seekers who paid smugglers to bring them to Australia from Indonesian ports by using the Australian navy to turn back their rickety boats.

Since mid-2013, those who have attempted to reach Australian shores by boat have been sent to Australia-run detention camps on the impoverished Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

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