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Nothing new in Beazley statement on unauthorised arrivals.

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Nothing New in Beazley Statement on Unauthorised Arrivals MPS 132/2001

"The Leader of the Opposition has not offered an alternative policy to deal with unauthorised arrivals," the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock said from Indonesia today.

"All of Labor's 'initiatives' have already been implemented by the Government, or are in the process of being implemented as can be seen in the comprehensive document I released yesterday, 'Review of Unauthorised Arrivals Strategy' ," Mr Ruddock said.

'The Opposition Leader offers no solutions to deal with the pull-factors that make Australia a more attractive destination, encouraging people to by-pass other countries where they could seek protection.

"The Opposition does not propose how it will deal differently with processing asylum claims, put limits on access to judicial review or change detention policy.

"The pressure is now on the Opposition to support the Government's legislation to define more closely, the intent of the Refugees Convention in domestic law so that we are not giving places to people with marginal claims.

"Labor has left the door open to the possibility that they might provide greater access to services for illegal entrants granted temporary protection.

"I have seen nothing to suggest that the Opposition has even considered that pull-factors have a role in the increasing numbers of unauthorised arrivals.

"According to an article in The Age, the Opposition has flagged that it might consider the

introduction of a new category of visa for asylum seekers, such as a humanitarian visa. The suggestion is that such a visa holder could be prevented from having recourse to the full legal appeal system operating for asylum seekers.

"However, why would someone who had such a visa want to seek judicial review? Presumably holding this visa would give rise to residency rights so the objective has already been met. What incentive is there for a review? The suggestion is an utter absurdity," Mr Ruddock said.

"Furthermore, the suggestion demonstrates a lack of appreciation that such a visa did exist under S6A 1(e) of the Migration Act. The Labor party in Government repealed the section in 1989 because it became subject to extensive abuse after the Courts ruled that almost any grievance would give rise to a claim for such a visa.

It was expected that only a few hundred such visas would be granted annually, however after court intervention the numbers exploded to over 10,000.

"The Opposition has again shown it is bereft of new ideas and gives added potence to the old saying, 'there is nothing new under the sun'," Mr Ruddock concluded.

7 September 2001 Media Contact: Steve Ingram (02) 6277 7860

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