Thursday, 30 September 2010
Afghan Asylum Seekers
In relation to the motion—the immediate lifting of the discriminatory suspension of processing of claims by Afghan asylum seekers—the coalition maintains that this was nothing more and nothing less than a sham. It was an artificial contrivance of policy for politically motivated reasons. We would, therefore, call on the government to lift the ban. However, in relation to subparagraph (b)(iii), we recognise that, whilst this is consistent with coalition policy on the matter—we would say that the provision of safe haven visas is an appropriate response to the immigration issue at hand—we understand that we will not have the support of the Greens and the Independents on that, and so we will be removing subparagraph (b)(iii) from the motion. I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
- notes that:
- the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees states that ‘contracting States shall apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin’,
- the Government suspended the processing of asylum seeker applications from Afghanistan on 9 April 2010, and
- there are more than 5 000 persons currently being detained by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the mainland and Christmas Island; and
- calls for the:
- immediate lifting of the discriminatory suspension on processing of claims by Afghan asylum seekers, and
- immediate processing of asylum claims of all Afghans held in detention.
I thank the coalition for amending their motion. The motion now is very similar in essence to the motion that was passed yesterday in this chamber. The suspension policy is clearly impractical. It is inhumane and the government must lift it and not reinstate it for any other national group either. It is really important that the government gets this message. I thank the coalition for removing subparagraph (b)(iii), because the Greens do not want to see the government adopt a rehashed version of the temporary protection visa system.
Question agreed to.
I note that the government opposed that motion; however, we recognise that the coalition had, as I understand it, the support of the Greens and, therefore, have the majority; so the government did not seek a division.