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Catholics welcome long-awaited Labor immigration policy

Initial response from Catholic organisations to yesterday's release of the immigration policy of the opposition Australian Labor Party has been positive.

The policy proposes to scrap temporary protection visas, release women and children asylum seekers into the community, and axe the so-called Pacific Solution.

Marc Purcell, executive director of the Melbourne Archdiocesan Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace said the policy's 90-day limit on detention reached the heart of the issue.

"That would be a substantial step to improving respect for human rights of asylum seekers," he said.

PolMin, the other Catholic group to release a statement, said the policy is a step forward, although it "fails to address the real problems of Australia's asylum seeker policy".

PolMin spokesperson James McGillicuddy criticised Labor for ignoring barriers to asylum seekers entering Australia to claim asylum.

"The right to enter a country to claim asylum is a fundamental inalienable human right," he said. "What is the point of having a compassionate asylum seeker policy if Australia's policy is to bar all asylum seekers from entering Australia?"

Mr McGillicuddy also identified as problematic Labor's failure to deal with with the indefinite detention of asylum seekers whose application for asylum has been rejected but who cannot be removed to their country of origin or to a third country.

News Interactive/PolMin

Protecting Australia And Protecting The Australian Way (ALP media statement 3/12/02)
Some thoughts on Labor's refugee policy (Sydney Morning Herald)
PM changes tune on asylum seekers (The Age)

4 Dec 2002