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Labor's opposition to Migration Bill would leave thousands of parents divided from their families for decades.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Leader of the Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Immigration

12th February 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/073

Labor's opposition to Migration Bill would leave thousands of parents divided from their families for decades

The Australian Democrats have criticised the ALP for opposing a Bill that will expand the numbers of aged parents able to reunite with their children by migrating to Australia.

Democrats’ Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said the Government’s Bill had flaws, but that if it is not passed, parents will have to continue to sit on a waiting list for decades.

“The bottom line is that Labor had to choose between allowing a major increase in parent migration or not. They have chosen to reject that option,” Senator Bartlett said.

“The callous way the Government has handled this issue over more than five years has undoubtedly caused immense hardship. However, Labor’s position would mean that hardship will continue indefinitely.

“The Democrats have tried for five years to get a fairer outcome for parents who want to rejoin their children in the final years of their life,” Senator Bartlett said.

“The Government’s Bill is far from perfect, but it will significantly ease that hardship. It will mean a doubling of intake for parents under the current costs. In addition, it will mean thousands more parents who can afford to pay a health charge can also migrate to Australia.

“The Democrats would prefer that this extra charge was not being introduced, but the alternative was to continue to condemn parents to waiting for decades.

“This Bill represents a rare reversal of the Government’s trend to reduce family migration at the expense of business migration. We hope it is a trend that continues, but again call on the Government to recognise the social benefits that family migration brings to Australia, rather than simply treating every migrant as a cost.

“Labor’s feeble attacks on the Democrats, using the same old tired lines, simply show they have no idea or interest in dealing with the immediate needs of thousands of Australians who are being kept separate from their parents.

“The Democrats are about using our balance of power in the Senate to achieve positive outcomes for Australians, rather than just seeing every issue as an opportunity to attack the Government,” Senator Bartlett concluded.

The Migration (Contributory Parents Migration Scheme) Bill is being debated in the House of Representatives today. It is expected to be debated in the Senate in March.

To arrange interview with Senator Bartlett contact 0419 867 649