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Democrats rule out forcing refugees to repay social security benefits or detention costs.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Press Release Dated: 2 May 2000 Press Release Number: 00/239 Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Related: Income Support

Democrats rule out forcing refugees to repay social security benefits or detention costs The Australian Democrats would refuse to support proposals to force refugees to pay back social security benefits or the cost of detention, once they are employed, and has asked Labor to do the same.

“The Government chooses to put unauthorised arrivals in detention and Australia is one of the few countries that does so. It is ludicrous to suggest they can then bill those who are recognised as refugees, for the cost of their incarceration,” said Democrat immigration spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett.

“Forcing refugees to pay back social security benefits once they were employed, is also an appalling idea. It would ensure refugees lived in poverty indefinitely,” said Senator Bartlett.

“The $164 a week Special Benefit is a small amount to have to live on, but it could create a massive debt to have to pay back for a refugee struggling to start a new life.”

Senator Bartlett urged the Labor immigration spokesperson Mr Con Sciacca to also categorically rule out any such proposals.

“Labor have a habit in the immigration area of criticising bad policies such as this but then voting for the legislation anyway,” he said.

Senator Bartlett said there was also a danger of the scheme being expanded to all unemployed persons.

“It would be a foot in the door to force all unemployed persons to pay back their social security benefits when they get a job. That is not where Australia wants to go. It could condemn people to poverty for life whether they were unemployed or not,” said Senator Bartlett.


Top | Email Authorised by: Jim Downey, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2604. Copyright © 2000 Australian Democrats Last modified: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 10:19:40 Today: Wed, 03 May 2000 14:19:30