Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has used powers under Section 85 of the Migration Act to put an immediate cap on permanent protection (class XA) visas for illegal aliens mostly from Muslim countries who arrived by boat and are being held in detention centers or on bridging visas.
Daily Telegraph (h/t Colin W) The legal order was issued yesterday to the Department of Immigration to cease approving PPVs to circumvent the move in the Senate by the Greens and Labor on Monday night to reject the Coalition’s attempts to revive the Howard-era temporary protection visas. The Coalition had hoped to use these to deny permanent residency to the 33,000 refugees by applying them retrospectively.
But the government has found a way around the Senate roadblock through ministerial powers which can be used to set an annual number on how many visas will be granted in a particular class.
The cap ordered yesterday has been set at the current number already issued this year – 1650 – meaning not a single new permanent residency visa will be granted until at least July when the cap will be reset. This is also when the new Senate will be sworn in, stripping Labor and the Greens of their power to block legislation.
Mr Morrison has also used provisions under section 46 of the Migration Act – which apply to ministerial discretion to allow applications to be made by asylum seekers offshore – and has placed a self-imposed ban on allowing applications to be made for permanent protection visas.
All other humanitarian visa programs remain in place, such as those which apply for asylum seekers in UN-administered refugee camps overseas.
Mr Morrison said the effect of the Greens-led roadblock in the Senate – supported by Labor – would be asylum seekers in Australia would be denied any access to work rights or welfare payments other than what is allowed under the bridging visa program.
He said the move was necessary to ensure people smugglers did not use the Labor-Greens Senate alliance to “re-open the door to asylum seekers” as propaganda to encourage more people to get on boats.
He said the freeze on permanent protection visas would remain until the Senate changed its mind. The legal moves by Mr Morrison followed statements from the Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday that his government would act to get around the Senate.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young vowed to never allow legislation to pass the Senate which puts “refugees in a more dangerous and risky circumstances.”
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