National Director of UnitingJustice Rev. Elenie Poulos said that the toughening of an already hardline approach in the wake of the defeat of legislation designed to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas means Australia has all but turned its back on the Refugee Convention.
"We had reason to celebrate when the regulation designed to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) was overturned. When last used, TPVs resulted in an increase in the number of deaths at sea, as more and more families boarded unsafe boats in a desperate attempt to reunite.
"Our celebrations were, however, short-lived," said Rev. Poulos. "Almost immediately, the Government has retaliated by introducing a suite of shameful policies that we know from past experience cause serious harm.
"Capping protection visas, denying family reunion, forcing people on bridging visas into destitution, and now repealing complementary protection laws, are entirely inappropriate ways to help vulnerable men, women and children seeking protection."
Rev. Poulos said, "This Government has demonstrated just how capable it can be of cruelty for the sake of cruelty. It has proven that it has no respect for the domestic or international obligations that form the cornerstone of refugee and asylum seeker protection."
"We know that the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the world has reached an all-time high. Yet, instead of working towards compassionate and humane solutions, we have a Government seemingly obsessed with protecting our borders from a non-existent enemy.
“It serves no-one to deliberately inflict serious harm on people and we call on the Government to urgently rethink its approach,” said Rev. Poulos.