Government hopeful asylum seeker bill will pass
Workplace Relations Minister and former immigration minister Chris Evans says it’s too early to be optimistic that the federal parliament will pass an amended asylum seeker bill.
WORKPLACE Relations Minister and former immigration minister Chris Evans says it’s too early to be optimistic that the federal parliament will pass an amended asylum seeker bill.
The federal government has backed an expert panel’s plan to break the asylum seeker policy deadlock on boat arrivals.
Following the release of the plan on Monday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Labor caucus had agreed to endorse in principle all 22 of the panel’s recommendations.
“Hopefully this week we will get this legislation and a proper response to some of the challenges we’re confronting,” Senator Evans told AAP.
“It’s too early to be optimistic.
“I haven’t seen the opposition’s response or that of the Greens but I think we’ve now got a worthwhile set of recommendations.”
The government has also endorsed in principle the recommendation to boost Australia’s annual humanitarian intake to 20,000 from just over 13,000.
Senator Evans, who was immigration minister in the Rudd government, said the government had always intended to increase the intake.
“We’ve always had the aspiration of lifting Australia’s intake (which) already takes more than most other resettlement countries,” he said.
“But we’re a country with a lot of opportunities and need for more workers and people, and I think we can do more.”
Ms Gillard has indicated the government will on Tuesday introduce amendments to its offshore processing bill to enable offshore processing of asylum seekers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, as recommended in the report.
“It’s not where you process people it’s how you process them, how to treat them,” Senator Evans said.
“At the moment there’s an incentive to get on a boat.
“This report is about how we break that incentive, treat people fairly but ensure that there’s not an advantage or too large an incentive to take a dangerous journey by boat.”