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Commission sounds alarm as Ruddock tightens visa rules

Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace yesterday expressed fears for refugees who will lose their right to permanent protection in Australia under an extension of the Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) program announced yesterday by Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock.

The changes mean people who arrive in Australia on visitor visas and then apply for refugee status will only be able to apply for a three-year visa - rather than permanent protection. At the end of three years they will have to justify their claim to asylum again or face deportation.

The Melbourne Commission's executive director Marc Purcell said issuing TPVs to people who had a genuine refugee claim contravened Australia's commitments under international refugee law.

"This is making them jump through hoops twice and live in anxiety for three years," he said.

Mr Ruddock said the new regime would enhance consistency in the migration system by treating refugee claimants who arrived by plane the same as those who arrived by boat.

"Recent experience with changing country situations and new security concerns clearly show the value of being able to reassess whether a person has a continuing need for protection," he said.

In 2002-03, Immigration Department figures show 3607 people arrived as visitors then applied onshore for refugee status. Of these, 869 were successful.


Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace
Australian Catholic Migration and Refugee Office
Phillip Ruddock: Changes To Protection Visa System (Media Release)
Do we welcome refugees? (Catholic Leader)
Harbour deportees, say church leaders
(The West Australian)

29 Aug 2003