A week before the ALP’s National Conference meets in Sydney the Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, and the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Robert McClelland, have released the party’s policy on border protection.
Text of ALP policy on Border Protection.
Better Policy To Protect Our Borders
Protecting our borders demands self-reliance. That’s why a Latham Labor Government will put in place tough new laws to deal with people smugglers under Australian law.
Labor’s Shadow Ministry today agreed to impose life sentences on the worst of the people smugglers and toughen a number of other penalties.
We have zero tolerance to people smugglers and we will put them where they belong – in gaol.
Labor also has a fairer approach to refugees. Shadow Ministry today resolved to end the uncertain and untenable situation for refugees in Australia on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs).
Our package represents better policy than the Howard Government’s approach. We believe in strong border protection but also a fairer approach to refugees.
People smugglers make money from human misery and deserve no leniency. Labor’s new life sentence represents a zero tolerance approach.
In the most recent case when a boat reached Melville Island, the Howard Government let the people smugglers go back to try a second and third and fourth time. Their ring-masters here and abroad have also escaped prosecution.
Labor will introduce three new offences, including life imprisonment for smuggling unlawful non-citizens into Australia causing the death of one or more people.
Labor also plans to increase existing penalties and gaol terms to strengthen deterrence of potential people smugglers. These penalties include minimum 10 years imprisonment for repeat offences of high level people smuggling.
And Labor will increase the fine for low level people smuggling to $100,000 plus introduce the mandatory confiscation of the vessel or aircraft. We will make sure they are never used again.
We will also confiscate any profits earned from this vile enterprise.
Temporary Protection Visas
A Latham Labor Government will retain mandatory detention and a TPV regime for asylum seekers who arrive in an unauthorised way. We believe in an orderly migration system.
The Howard Government hasn’t either faced up to or resolved the unsustainable problem of refugees living in the Australian community on TPVs.
Nearly 4,000 refugees have lived in the Australian community on TPVs for over 3 years. They have no certainty in their lives and under John Howard could potentially live in the Australian community on a temporary basis for the rest of their lives.
Labor believes families deserve stability.
We will introduce a single one off TPV period of two years for unauthorised arrivals subsequently determined to be refugees and in need of Australia’s protection under the Refugee Convention.
After two years, it will be up to the Australian Government to show that circumstances in the country of origin have changed so that Australia’s temporary protection of the refugee concerned is no longer required.
If ongoing protection is still required, a permanent protection visa will be offered to the refugee.
Upon coming to Government, Labor will conduct an immediate review of the circumstances of each existing TPV holder of two years or more duration, giving priority to those who have been on a TPV for the longest period.
Where a TPV holder has been in the community longer than two years, a Labor Government will offer permanent protection if ongoing protection is required.
If ongoing protection is no longer required, Labor will offer permanent residence to the TPV holder if they pass a rigorous public interest test: where it is found the person is the sort of person who Australia would otherwise select for a migration program – someone who has made, and can continue to make, economic, social, community and family contributions beneficial to the Australian community, particularly within rural or regional Australia.
Labor understands the social and economic contribution genuine refugees can bring to rural and regional Australia. It is a similar position to one advocated by the National Party’s Member for Mallee, John Forrest.
PEOPLE SMUGGLING CRACKDOWN
Today’s announcement contains two basic elements.
- A substantial increase in all 6 people smuggling offences listed in the Migration Act.
- The introduction of three new people smuggling offences.
1. Increased Penalties
Level Migration Act Section Old sentence New sentence Low Level Smuggling transportation offences s229, s230, s232 $10,000 fine $100,000 fine plus mandatory confiscation of vessel or aircraft Mid level People smuggling offences s233 10 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine 10 years imprisonment and/or $100,000 fine High level Smuggling of 5 people or more s232A*, s233A* Mandatory Minimum for repeat offence: 8 years imprisonment with a 5 year non-parole period Mandatory Minimum for repeat offence: 10 years imprisonment with a 7 year non-parole period
* The maximum sentence for these s232A and s233A offences will not change from 20 years imprisonment and a $200,000 fine. The mandatory minimum sentence for a first offence will also stay at 5 years imprisonment with a non parole period of 3 years.
2. New Offences
- Introduce a new people-smuggling offence of smuggling unlawful non-citizens into Australia causing the death of 1 or more persons. Penalty: Life imprisonment unless mitigating circumstances apply in which case a mandatory minimum penalty of 14 years imprisonment (10 years non-parole period). Onus on defendant to show mitigating circumstances as to why life imprisonment should not be imposed.
- Introduce a new people smuggling offence of assisting a person reasonably suspected of being involved in people smuggling to remove themselves from the jurisdiction for the purpose of avoiding prosecution under the laws of Australia. Penalty: Maximum 10 years imprisonment and/or $100,000 fine.
- Introduce a new people smuggling offence of supplying funds for the purpose of procuring the services of a people smuggler to transport an unlawful non citizen into Australia. Penalty: Maximum 5 years imprisonment and/or $50,000 fine.
LABOR’S TEMPORARY PROTECTION VISA SYSTEM
A New Temporary Protection Visa Regime
- Create a single one off Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) period of two years for unauthorised arrivals who have been determined as refugees and in need of Australia’s protection under the Refugees Convention
- After two years, if the ongoing protection under the Convention is required, a permanent protection visa will be offered
- After two years, if the Commonwealth can show that the TPV holder no longer requires ongoing protection under the Convention, permanent protection will not be offered
- There will be no obligation on the refugee to restate or reprove their circumstances that led to the initial determination of refugee status
- If the Commonwealth concludes that circumstances in the country of origin have changed and protection is no longer required, the refugee will be able to argue that this general change does not apply to the individual’s particular circumstances as a fear of persecution under the Convention is ongoing
- The Government will provide a reintegration package for refugees who chose to return to their country of origin or who have been determined to no longer require Australian protection at the end of the two year TPV period
Existing TVP Holders
- There are approximately 8500 TPV holders in Australia
- The first TPVs were granted in November 1999
- Nearly 4,000 refugees have lived in the Australian community on TPVs for over 3 years
- In Government, Labor will conduct an immediate review of the circumstances of each existing TPV holder of two years or more duration
- Priority will be given to those who have been on TPV for the longest period
- If ongoing protection is required, permanent protection will be offered
- If ongoing protection is no longer required, Labor will offer permanent residence to the TPV holder if they pass a rigorous public interest test: where it is found the person is the sort of person who Australia would otherwise select for a migration program – someone who has made, and can continue to make, economic, social, community and family contributions beneficial to the Australian community, particularly within rural or regional Australia.
- A person with a TPV for less than two years will have their circumstances assessed on the second anniversary of the granting of the initial TPV
TPV Grants by Grant Period
Grant Period Number of Grantees 11/99 to 12/99 24 1/00 to 6/00 848 7/00 to 12/00 2924 1/01 to 6/01 1551 7/01 to 12/01 1989 1/02 to 6/02 1212 7/02 to 12/02 161 1/03 to 6/03 114 7/03 to 12/03 73 1/04 to 6/04 1 Total 8897