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Labor raises the bar even higher.

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Senator Lyn Allison Kate Reynolds

Australian Democrats Australian Democrats

Acting Leader Member of the SA Legislative Council

24 January 2004 MEDIA RELEASE 04/027

Labor raises the bar even higher

Opposition Leader Mark Latham’s claim that his new asylum seeker policy is more fair and humane for asylum seekers shows how little the ALP has understood the effects of the system it helped to introduce, according to the Australian Democrats’ Refugee spokesperson Kate Reynolds MLC.

“The Opposition Leader’s announcement is simply not good enough,” said Ms Reynolds.

“Labor’s so called ‘new’ position doesn’t end mandatory detention, it blatantly ignores the UNHCR’s stand on protection, it ignores our obligations under international conventions and it ignores the effects of granting only short term protection to people fleeing persecution, torture and trauma.

“If someone has a humanitarian need to remain in the country, then they should be given complementary protection, as is the case in every other western country.

“Asking people who have suffered massive trauma in their homelands, and then suffered more trauma during prolonged detention in Australia, to settle in just two years is for many people, not reasonable or realistic.

“We know that it takes some people up to five years to recover and move on from their experiences at the hands of violent regimes and at the hands of a hostile Australian Government.

“Granting protection to people after two years is a positive move but the reality is that many people have fled countries where the political climate is constantly changing, leaving them vulnerable to the ALP’s requirement that they must repeatedly reprove their case for asylum.

“How can Labor expect people to be simultaneously ‘making a positive contribution to the Australian community’ and battling a rigorous public interest test which appears designed to keep raising the bar higher and higher?

“Refugees have made enormous and much needed contributions to this country, especially in regional Australia, and will continue to do so, but anything less than abolishing the cruel and unnecessary TPV system for recognised refugees is just tinkering around the edges of an unnecessarily harsh system.

“This isn’t about ending uncertainty - this latest announcement just sharpens the knife edge of life on a temporary protection visa,” concluded Ms Reynolds.

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