Weekly media round-up No. 25

At 15 February 2014, there had been no asylum seeker boat arrivals in the previous 57 days.

A submission to a Senate Committee by the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce opposed a Bill granting discretionary power to the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to determine approvals for Complementary Protection visas. According to the group, this legislation allows the minister to “play God”.

Minister Morrison dismissed concerns that differing accounts of alleged mistreatment of asylum seeker by Navy personnel may harm Australia-Indonesia relations. The minister played down Indonesia’s concern over the use of lifeboats to return asylum seekers that have entered Australia’s territorial zone. In spite of this tension, Indonesia’s policy to deny Iranians visas on arrival remains in place, which has seen a decrease over the past year in the number of Iranians attempting to enter Australia via the Indonesian archipelago.

In increasing efforts to assess the impact of the government’s immigration policies on public opinion, the Immigration Department commissioned Cubit Media Research to deliver “media positioning analysis”. In response to criticism of contracts worth $4.3m, a department spokesperson said the contracts were first approved and funded by the former Labor government. Professor Andre Markus argued refugee advocates are out of touch with public opinion on asylum seekers.

An Indian student committed suicide at a Maribyrnong immigration detention centre, after he was detained for overstaying his student visa.