Refugees Cox Bazaar Bangladesh

Refugees will hold a protest at Prime Minister Albanese’s Marrickville electoral office this afternoon  (3 February), 5.30 pm.

Speakers include representatives from the Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Rohingya, and Iranian  refugee communities and the Refugee Action Coalition.

Labor was elected eight months ago on a long-standing promise to grant permanent visas to refugees who had only been granted temporary visas – three-year Temporary Protection Visas (TYP) or five-year Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV)

Yet refugees are still waiting.

Despite Labor’s announced policy, refugees are still having to apply to renew their TPV and SHEVs instead of being granted permanent visas.

“It is a bureaucratic nightmare of the worst order,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Every day’s delay is adding to the difficulties of the refugees and their families.”

Labor promised to scrap the fast track refugee process that was designed to fast track the rejection of protection applications. Yet, although Labor has dumped the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that was loaded with Liberal political appointments, 9000 asylum seekers are still eking-out an existence on bridging or expired visas.

“There are around 31,000 refugees and people seeking asylum who urgently need Labor to act on their promise,” said Rintoul,

“They can’t afford to waste another parliamentary sitting leaving refugees in limbo.”

Labor has been able to finalise a $400 million contract with MTC, a company with a dubious human rights reputation, to extend offshore detention on Nauru, but haven’t found the political will to grant permanent visas to refugees in the Australian community.

More than 1000 ex-offshore refugees are still being told that they cannot settle in Australia, although many refugees who arrived on the same boats at the same time as those sent to PNG and Nauru will soon get permanent visas.

Other asylum seekers denied visas on spurious grounds that it was safe in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran or Iraq have been forced to survive on the margins with no visa and no income support.

“We will be at Albo’s electorate office to remind him, once again, of his election night promise, that under Labor no one would be left behind,” said Rintoul.

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