Crossbench senators denied their support to the controversial bill to impose a lifetime ban on all asylum seekers who arrive by boat from entering Australia. Without this support, the bill will fail to pass unless key amendments are made. Relatedly, a parliamentary joint committee on human rights released a report on Tuesday stating that the bill in its present form could constitute both direct and indirect discrimination. Despite this, the five Liberal members of the committee maintained that the ban should be legislated.
Volker Turk, the UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, called the Australian government’s failure to process the 30,000 asylum seekers in the community on bridging visas ‘a social time bomb’. He expressed to Fairfax Media that it is ‘very urgent’ to resolve this issue, in order to ‘make sure that people can get on with their lives’.
Turk also stated that UNHCR staff would help with screening and resettlement in Australia’s refugee deal with the US, but only as a ‘one-off’. The details of the deal remain unclear, with two senior Republicans writing to the Obama administration to appeal for more information.
Results of a new Monash University survey show that although Australians strongly support taking migrants through the humanitarian program, a majority of Australians disapprove of asylum seekers arriving by boat. Only 2% of those surveyed agreed that Australia’s poor treatment of refugees was the biggest issue facing Australia today.