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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2155


Senator SHORT (11.11 a.m.) —I thank the minister for that. As a member of that committee, I shall look with considerable interest at the minister's consideration of that report, which I think is an important report. I hope that the government will produce a response to that report in a far shorter time than its failure, to date, to produce any response to the committee's previous report, which has now been there since, I think, August 1992 and which also contains some important recommendations.

  I want to ask now a couple of questions in relation to the permanent protection visa, the 817 visa. With regard to the actual amendments proposed in the bill before us, there appears to me to be only one issue of any particular contention and that is the changing of the protection visas from temporary permits to permanent visas. That is a decision which has been supported by the coalition. We are not opposing it. But it can send differing signals to different potential applicants for refugee and humanitarian class of visas.

  What I want to ask is: why was the decision regarding the 817 class of visa holders, which, as we know, makes the visas permanent rather than temporary, made in the context of the 1 November decision which resolved the outstanding issues of, in particular, the Chinese nationals? Was there any connection between the two issues?