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Refugees – permanent protection for those failed by fast track

Refugees – permanent protection for those failed by fast track

Ms SPENDER (Wentworth) (14:13):

My question is to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

Today, 19,000 refugees received the wonderful news that they would be granted permanent protection in Australia. However, a further 12,000 were not covered by this announcement. Some, instead, were covered by a failed fast-track program. These people have lived here for a decade, they're contributing to our society and they are some of the most vulnerable in our community, including women from Afghanistan and Iran. What is their pathway to permanent protection?  

Mr GILES (Scullin—Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) (14:14): I thank the member for Wentworth for her question and, indeed, her interest, which she's demonstrated consistently since coming to this place, on these issues of people seeking asylum and, frankly, how we can be a nation that shows our better side to the world and, indeed, in this place, shows a way in which we can work through difficult policy questions in a manner that is worthy of the Australian people and their innate decency.

I do want to make a couple of points in response to her question, though. Firstly, as the Prime Minister has made very clear, what we have announced today is a statement that gives effect to a longstanding commitment. It's a commitment for which the Albanese Labor government has a clear mandate from the Australian people to recognise this group of people. As members opposite well know, this is a group of people who arrived before Operation Sovereign Borders. They should perhaps reflect that in some of their commentary if they are to act responsibly in our national interest, and our shared interest, in ensuring that our border remains secure. I say that to members opposite.

What our announcement does is contemplate the circumstances of all people in this cohort. It does that. I will be briefing the member for Wentworth and other members of the crossbench on the details of this announcement later today. But let me say this: we contemplated the circumstances of all of these people, including a large number who 10 years on are yet to have a primary decision in a manner that is consistent with due process. But it fundamentally comes back to this: we believe that people who are ultimately found to have been owed protection should be able to access this pathway.

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