Australian Federal Opposition slams government's asylum visa proposal

12:52, April 26, 2011      

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The Australian Federal Opposition on Tuesday slammed a proposal that would allow some violent asylum seekers to remain in the country on temporary protection visas.

"Temporary visas should be applied to all those who have arrived illegally, not to those convicted of crimes," Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Those who fail the character test should be told to apply to another country for a visa."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on Tuesday announced plans to toughen up the immigration character test by denying permanent visas to those convicted of crimes while held in immigration detention.

It comes after riots by detainees held on Christmas Island and, more recently, at Villawood Immigration Detention Center, in Sydney's southwest.

Bowen said the change would make it harder for anyone involved in criminal behavior to get a permanent protection visa.

"This makes it much clearer and sends a very clear message to people in immigration detention that destructive behavior is not acceptable," Bowen told reporters in Sydney.

But while convicted asylum seekers may be denied full visas in future, they may still be eligible for temporary protection visas - allowing them to remain in the country.

"There are a number of options open to the government... that can be applied," Bowen said.

"They include temporary visas... those temporary visas can include a requirement to not engage in violent or destructive behavior."

Source: Xinhua
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