REFUGEES would be forced to work for their welfare benefits and may only be permitted to stay in Australia for as little as six months under a tough new border security policy to be announced by the Coalition today.
In an attempt to capitalise on rising community anger at the continued flow of boats that have brought 2805 asylum-seekers to Australia so far this year, the Coalition will unveil a suite of measures designed to harden its border security credentials.
At the heart of those measures is a new, tougher class of temporary protection visa to be issued to all unauthorised asylum-seekers.
In echoes of the Howard government’s Pacific Solution, the Coalition is expected to announce new measures to process asylum-seekers offshore.
The Coalition will also flag its intention to dump the suspension of new refugee claims for Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum-seekers, which was unveiled by the Federal Government in April. The suspension freezes new Sri Lankan asylum claims for three months and new Afghan claims for six months.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison told The Australian that abolishing the suspension would restore the non-discriminatory tenets of Australian asylum-seeker policy. “We have tough policies but they are applied equally to everyone,” Mr Morrison said.
“We have a clear view that people who arrive illegally will get different treatment to those who arrive legally. “We don’t seek to hide the fact what we are trying to do is ensure there is a different outcome for those who come illegally and those who don’t.”
The new announcements are designed to silence Coalition critics who for months have accused the opposition of failing to provide convincing alternative policies to stop the rising number of boats.
They are also an attempt to capitalise on growing disquiet in marginal electorates in the months leading up to this year’s Federal Election.
Mr Morrison yesterday defended the proposed temporary protection visa, saying it was a fairer, more versatile method of providing protection. “Refugee status is not a permanent condition and you need a policy to reflect that,” he said.