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Ending Labor's $100 million taxpayer funded advice to illegal boat arrivals

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Media Release

Scott Morrison MP Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Shadow Minister for Productivity and Population Coalition Campaign Spokesman

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Attorney-General Shadow Minister for the Arts

Saturday 31 August 2013

Ending Labor’s $100 million taxpayer funded advice to illegal boat arrivals

The Coalition, if elected, will withdraw taxpayer funded advice under the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS) for all those who have arrived illegally by boat.

People choosing to violate how Australia chooses to run our refugee and humanitarian programme should not expect the support and assistance that is provided to those who seek to come the right way and should certainly not receive additional support.

Under Labor the IAAAS is this year budgeted to provide $42 million worth of taxpayer funded immigration assistance free of charge to illegal boat arrivals and over $100 million over four years. This assistance is provided by registered migration agents, including lawyers, or people qualified to give immigration advice.

People coming to Australia legally on a visa have to pay to be provided with services from a migration agent and most also have to pay visa charges.

The Coalition's policy will not prevent illegal boat arrivals receiving such assistance. It just won't be paid for by taxpayers.

Under the Coalition asylum seekers arriving illegally by boat would be provided clear instructions in multiple languages setting out the application and assessment process for asylum.

Interpreters and Department of Immigration and Citizenship staff, separate from those making the assessments, would be available to answer questions about the process. This is similar to the process employed by the UNHCR around the world.

With more than 30,000 people left in Labor's queue, a Coalition government would not keep the taxpayer funded immigration advice tab open. Our obligations do not extend to free immigration advice and assistance.

Access to private and/or pro bono immigration advice will be facilitated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, with all costs to be met by the providers of these services, including costs incurred by the Department.

Not only will Labor, if re-elected, give the benefit of the doubt in the assessment process to those who have thrown their documents away, they will also continue providing taxpayer funded advice and assistance and enable those found not to be refugees hard wired access to our courts through the Refugee Review Tribunal.

The hallmark of the Coalition's approach to border protection has been our steadfast consistency over more than a decade.

To be consistent you cannot have one rule for some and not for others. That is why a Coalition government will apply equally our measures across all those who seek to come to Australia the wrong way - whether they attempt it in the future, or they are one of more than 30,000 people who are already here and Labor have not processed.

This approach sends the clearest possible message about our resolve.

Media contact: Julian Leembruggen, 0419 494 667 (Mr Morrison) Travis Bell, 0417 649 394 (Senator Brandis)