House debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice

Ukraine

3:13 pm

Sally Sitou (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs. How will the government continue to support displaced Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members until Ukraine is victorious against the brutal invasion?

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question, and I congratulate her on her election to this place and her magnificent first speech last week. I also take this opportunity to congratulate you on your elevation, Mr Speaker.

The illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Mr Putin has seen cities devastated, reduced to rubble; immense loss of life and untold damage to the people of Ukraine. I want to be very clear that the Australian government's support for Ukrainian sovereignty is unwavering, as most particularly shown by the visit of our Prime Minister to Kiev. Also, the Australian government stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and we will support them as long as it takes for Ukraine to emerge victorious from this brutal invasion. I'm sure that is a sentiment shared by everyone in this place.

This government is committed to ensuring that Ukrainians both inside and outside of Australia can not only find safety in the Australian community but also access appropriate visas to enable them and their families to thrive in Australia. I note that since 23 February of this year, the Australian government has granted more than 8,600 visas to Ukrainians in Ukraine and hundreds more to Ukrainians elsewhere. In late June, I was advised that the temporary humanitarian offer for Ukrainian nationals had a deadline imposed by the former government of 30 June. This was done so without updating the website or informing the Ukrainian Australian community. However, this government understands how important communicating important information like this is to the community. Accordingly, I extended the offer to allow those unaware of this hidden deadline to take advantage of the important temporary humanitarian stay offer. I also extended the offer to the immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals who did not hold Ukrainian citizenship, so families fleeing this invasion were not unnecessarily split. I am sure that is a decision welcomed by all members of this place.

However—and the shadow minister may pay attention at this point—the offer, which was established by members opposite, bars recipients from being able to leave this country whilst holding that visa and from ever being able to apply for a permanent protection visa. These were crucial facts, like the decline imposed on the program, that were not communicated to the Australian Ukrainian community, leaving Ukrainian nationals in the dark. This oversight has been of great concern to me and the government, and the community which is why I have been negotiating with the community to ensure that these oversights, which I'm sure were not intended, have been attended to, so that community members can be given the support that they deserve and which I think every member of this place agrees they are entitled to while this invasion, this brutal invasion, continues and they deserve our help.

3:17 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the minister for immigration for that answer and so do the Ukrainian Australian community. This entire parliament stands with you at this difficult time, given the ongoing brutality of the Russian invasion.

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I join with the Prime Minister and the minister in pledging our support to provide every effort to help the country through its darkest hour. When we were in government, we provided over $280 million worth of defence equipment and aid to the Ukrainian government to try to save the lives of men, women and children, and to push back the oppressors. This illegal invasion of the Ukraine has gone on for way too long and, sadly, there's no end in sight. We hope that peace can prevail at some point. The fact that we've been able to extend, on a bipartisan basis, support to the Ukrainian people and provide a new home and a new start for them and their families in significant numbers is something our nation should be very proud of.

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I also ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.