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New temporary visa rules attacked

Catholic agencies have criticised a Federal Government announcement that Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders will have to apply for another visa if they don't want to return to the country they came from.

The Catholic Leader reports that Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said earlier this month that the first refugees granted TPVs were now at the stage where, if they still needed protection, they had to apply for another visa within three months.

"Applications will be assessed by experienced departmental officers against criteria set down in the Refugees Convention," Mr Ruddock said. "They will be looking closely at the current situation in the home country."

Director of the Australian Bishops' Migrant and Refugee Office, Fr John Murphy, said Mr Ruddock's statement "doesn't really tell us anything".

"It's always been the case that visa holders would have to reapply.

"But regulations brought in by the Federal Government last September indicate that none will be entitled to permanent residence except by the minister's intervention."

Patricia Ravalico, who chairs the St Vincent de Paul Society's national migrant and refugee committee, said Mr Ruddock's statement left a number of issues unclear.

Director of Brisbane archdiocese's Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care, Jose Zepeda, said that one of his concerns was that the Federal Government would take only a legalistic approach without compassion or understanding in assessing individual cases.

Catholic Leader

21 Jun 2002