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Labor committed to fair treatment of asylum seekers.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Labor committed to fair treatment of asylum seekers

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Rudd Government is committed to fair and humane arrangements for asylum seekers and refugees, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today.

Senator Evans said the industry which has developed around Ministerial intervention is detrimental to the entire immigration system.

‘Many now see Ministerial intervention as a third tier of review, rather than as a check on the system,” Senator Evans said.

‘Thousands of requests for Ministerial intervention are received each year, most of which are not the unique and exceptional cases that the relevant powers were intended to address.’

The figures provided by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre are not representative of outcomes in the broader Ministerial Intervention context.

The latest figures from the department show that the Minister has considered the exercise of his powers in some 730 cases, of which he has intervened in 170 cases.

‘It is unsurprising that a small sample of outcomes all originating from a particular organisation do not capture the full picture,’ Senator Evans said.

‘It is important to remember that all people seeking Ministerial intervention under s417 have already been found not to be owed Australia’s protection.

‘They have had their claims exhaustively examined by the Department and the Refugee Review Tribunal and in many cases by the Courts.

‘For those people who have had their claims considered and been found not to be owed protection, return to their home country is the most appropriate outcome in the vast majority of cases.

‘The Rudd Government supports independent, transparent and appealable decision making in immigration matters as a means of providing better and more consistent outcomes.

‘This transparency will extend to providing better information in relation to the exercise of Ministerial discretions, and work on this is well underway.

‘The Government has acted quickly to end the former government’s failed Pacific solution and we have undertaken a review of people in long term immigration detention. The Government also is committed to ending the Temporary Protection Visa regime.