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Ruddock announces tough new initiatives.
The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
RUDDOCK ANNOUNCES TOUGH NEW INITIATIVES
The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today announced tough new measur es aimed at curbing the growing number of people arriving illegally in Australia.
He said key initiatives to be introduced included:
· Excluding unauthorised arrivals from accessing permanent residence by giving genuine refugees a three-year temporary protection visa or a short-term safe haven visa.
· Stopping people who have effective protection overseas from gaining onshore protection in Australia.
· Using fingerprinting and other biometric tests such as DNA testing, face, palm or retinal recognition and voice testing to help ascertain the true identity of asylum seekers to ensure, where possible, they do not already have protection elsewhere or have been refused refugee status overseas.
The Minister said Australia took its international obligations v ery seriously and was committed to providing protection to genuine refugees. He said the initiatives he had announced today would help ensure those in greatest need received Australia’s help.
“Unauthorised arrivals by air have continued to grow at over 30 percent each year and boat arrivals have grown from 200 people in 1998 to about 1,500 so far this year. Reliable reports indicate that up to 2,000 more unauthorised arrivals are believed to be in Indonesia waiting for vessels to bring them to Australia,” Mr Ruddock said.
“Most of these people are from Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan and many have been outside their country for decades. It is clear that most of these people are being trafficked to Australia by criminal elements.
“In a growing trend that has become known as ‘forum shopping’, these people are trying to exploit Australia’s generous arrangements for refugees to gain residence in their country of preference.”
Mr Ruddock said the proposed legislation would put an end to this abuse that undermines the refugee process and takes places from genuine applicants who are languishing in refugee camps around the world.
The Minister said that the new identification powers would bring Australia closer into line with some European countries, Britain, and the USA, which are also considered attractive targets by forum shoppers.
“For some time these countries have been strengthening their powers to fingerprint and otherwise identify asylum seekers and unauthorised arrivals by using new technologies, while our powers have remained unchanged for over 50 years,” Mr Ruddock said.
“Australia simply cannot afford to be seen as a potential soft target by forum shoppers and the increasingly sophisticated people smuggling rackets.”
Mr Ruddock said the temporary protection visa would also remove incentives to forum shoppers who might otherwise have considered Australia as their country of protection over closer and more logical alternatives.
“The legislation will prevent unauthorised arrivals from obtaining permanent protection visas and the benefits, particularly family reunion, which appear to attract traffickers and forum shoppers,” the Minister said.
“In addition, if they leave Australia, the temporary visa will cease and they will have no automatic right of return.”
The Minister said he believed these initiatives would go a long way to solving the problem of forum shopping and removing the incentives for unauthorised arrivals.
Mr Ruddock said these initiatives would be extensively publicised through Australia’s ove rseas posts as part of an overseas information campaign aimed at deterring would be illegal entrants.
ENDS Wednesday 13 October 1999
Media Inquiries: Susan Sare (02) 6277 7860 or 0407 415 797
[Attachment to hard copy
Unauthorised boat arrivals: graph [3p]
Held in DPL’s Information Files]
al 1999-10-14 09:48