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Gillard Govt Creating a New Underclass of Asylum Seekers

May 29, 2013


This article is by Fairfax writer Bianca Hall and was originally published at the Sydney Morning Herald National Times…

A new underclass of 100,000 asylum seekers, living on as little as $220 a week and with no rights to work, could be created in just five years if current trends continue.

Charities have warned they are unable to cope with the rising tide of impoverished asylum seekers, with one centre in Melbourne’s south-east closing its doors to new clients after being ”swamped” with requests for food aid.

The government introduced its ”no-advantage” policy on August 13, saying people who arrived by boat would have their protection claims processed no more quickly than those who waited for a humanitarian visa in a refugee camp. Since then, a record 19,760 people have sought Australia’s protection.

Since October 2011, 16,477 people have been released on bridging visas while their claims for protection are considered. Of these, 7256 are subject to the government’s no-advantage policies, meaning they have no rights to work and are eligible for just 89 per cent of the dole – about $220 a week.

Immigration Department secretary Martin Bowles insisted at a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday there had been no ”freeze” on processing asylum seekers’ refugee applications – even though not one of the 19,760 who arrived after August 13 has had their claim processed.

He confirmed that even asylum seekers found to be refugees could be forced to wait up to five years for a permanent protection visa while living in the community.

Heather Holst, the chief executive of housing charity HomeGround, said her agency was bracing for more asylum seekers to be released. She said the agency had recorded a 195 per cent rise in clients from Pakistan, and an increase of 182 per cent in housing requests from asylum seekers from Afghanistan.

”We’re just seeing this big group of asylum seekers with very limited income,” she said.

This included a husband and wife forced to live for months in a garage with no toilet. The pair were allowed to use the toilet inside the adjoining house at set times.

”I just think they’re unintended consequences of releasing people into the community,” Ms Holst said. ”I just don’t think they’ve thought this through.”

A centre in Dandenong that caters for asylum seekers said on Tuesday it could not care for any more families on bridging visas. Asylum Seekers Centre manager David Spitteler told Fairfax local magazine the Dandenong Journal he had been forced to make the decision because the centre had been swamped with requests.

The Coalition stepped up its attacks on asylum seekers’ behaviour, with Liberal senator Michaelia Cash questioning why there were no behavioural standards set for asylum seekers released on bridging visas, as there were for those living in community detention.

There had been 17 incidents of ”possible criminal conduct” involving asylum seekers on bridging visas, the hearing was told, including two who had been convicted.



7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2013 1:17 pm

    And we should care why precisely?

    The simple fact is that most Australians outside the latte belt are just totally burnt out when it comes to the issue of Asylum seekers and would be quite happy to see this country repudiate the UN treaty and deport the lot of them.

  2. igor p. permalink
    May 29, 2013 1:32 pm

    We would not need to do anything if we start to put pressure on corrupt Governments in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

  3. IPAddress permalink
    May 29, 2013 1:43 pm

    Nothing to see here. The ‘no advantage’ principle was recommended by the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. Experts, people.

  4. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    May 29, 2013 3:23 pm

    There was a time when the political divide on this issue was characterised by a debate about ‘push’ versus ‘pull’ factors.

    The (now self banned) ALP barrackers used to argue at length that the increase in people seeking asylum was due to ‘push’ factors. Who knows? Back then they argued the case for humane treatment because there was not point in punishing people that were pushed here.

    Did the expert panel decide that cruelty of the innocent is the best way to deal with ‘push’, or is cruelty meant to counteract all those ‘pull’ factors.

    It’s a pity some barrackers don’t pop in and explain just how cruelty deals with ‘push’ or ‘pull’!

  5. Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA permalink
    May 30, 2013 1:59 am

    “It’s a pity some barrackers don’t pop in and explain just how cruelty deals with ‘push’ or ‘pull’!”

    I am just curious Tom, what “cruelty” do you speak of? I mean, I hear the claim made all the time here and elsewhere but what exactly is “cruel”? Anyway….

    “Many of the smugglers now on the radar of police are previous asylum-seekers who arrived by boat, including the first wave of Afghan asylum-seekers who arrived by their thousands in the early years of the Howard government.

    Most went on to lead decent and productive lives. But when the smuggling twitched back into life in 2008, some sensed opportunity. They revived the contacts they had used to bring themselves and their families to Australia.

    Equipped with Australian citizenship, they were able to travel freely to Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan or Dubai.

    The presence of a large Afghan refugee diaspora also helped. It meant smugglers had a ready-made market of people keen to bring their relatives out to Australia and who understood the way the trade worked.”

    I am sorry, but people looking for expedited immigration and hand outs simply don’t get my pitty…They come from places where the rule of law means nothing and their first act is to use fraud to further their agendas. Exactly the WRONG kind of person you guys should be granting citizenship too. Using the “guise” of a refugee may work on the “naive” to pull on the heart strings but my community deals with this same phenomenon every day under a different guise and it has literally destroyed and bankrupt communities…SEND THEM BACK IMMEDIATELY…END OF STORY. Abandon the antiquated UN Charter; end of story…Vietnamese now, ridiculous….WAKE UP.

  6. egg permalink
    May 30, 2013 7:22 am

    In light of what Sparta says, which makes perfect sense, I think its time to reconsider the UN Charter.

  7. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    May 30, 2013 9:26 am

    Sparta, cruelty is deliberately locking up innocent people (including children) for years and years.

    There is only one purpose of the cruelty and incarceration, which is to send a message that them and their ilk are unwelcome.

    *Lock them up for years and years
    *Don’t allow them to earn living
    *Deny them social support
    *Blame them if some then turn to crime or become disaffected

    To me, this is a policy without a shred of ethics.

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