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Just like the original TPV only nastier

  • 01 October 2014

Last week Immigration Minister Scott Morrison proposed migration law changes that would 'allow the government to commence processing asylum claims of the legacy caseload’. He described them as the implementation of ‘more rapid processing and streamlined review arrangements, as detailed at the election’, adding that ‘any further delays in processing or repeated processing of claims simply adds to cost and uncertainty and prevents people getting on with their lives’.

In fact they do nothing of the sort. The changes are part of an amendment Bill consisting of 181 pages and over 250 pages of explanatory memorandum. This is not the only change in Parliament as there are two other Bills, one introduced in June to make it more difficult to be granted complementary protection, and easier for the Department to refuse cases. There was another that included the further strengthening of the already overly puritanical character provisions. 

Those seeking asylum in Australia have a maze of at least 28 sections in the Migration Act to deal with (not including review rights), as well as the regulations, Ministerial Directions, and hundreds of leading cases.  On my calculation, the changes make it at least 35 sections relevant for refugees and asylum seekers (not including the review rights), and adding two new temporary visas. There is also a whole new review mechanism called ‘fast tracking’ which is separate to the existing Refugee Review Tribunal provisions.

Whilst there are a number of very troubling provisions in the Bill, including the TPV series 3 and related Special Humanitarian Enterprise Visa (SHEV), and the fast tracking proposal.

Those who have followed the issue will be familiar with the TPV that was first introduced in 1999. It led to an increase in boat arrivals because it prevented refugees from sponsoring their immediate families until they were granted a permanent visa.  It also prevented travel to visit family in a safe third country.  The TPV was made less draconian in 2005 when the ban on applying for other visas onshore was lifted.  It was abolished under Rudd in 2008.

TPV series 2 was introduced in October 2013 but disallowed in the Senate. TPV series 3 reintroduces the worst features of the previous series 1 and 2, with the added bar of not being able to apply for any other visa including a permanent protection visa. This means the holder of the TPV 3 will be on a three year visa which allows them