What is a temporary protection visa?
A temporary protection visa (TPV) is a restrictive visa that allows asylum seekers to live in Australian society with a set of conditions.
Asylum seekers granted a TPV have been deemed genuine refugees who are owed protection by the Australian government.
TPV holders are not allowed to leave and re-enter the country and have no rights to family reunion.
The conditions of each visa varies, but according to a report by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, are barred from most social security payments.
Asylum seekers who hold TPVs are entitled to work, with some restrictions in place, and have access to Medicare.
Why are temporary protection visas in the news?
This week, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced asylum seeker families on Christmas Island may be released on TPVs.
The move has been called a “monumental backflip” by opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles, with the Abbott Government previously insisting no asylum seekers would be settled in Australia.
TPVs are yet to be passed in parliament, but Mr Morrison is allegedly negotiating with crossbenchers after the senate blocked TPV legislation last year.
Why the Scott Morrison ‘backflip’?
Mr Morrison said the introduction of TPVs was a ‘core promise’ of the Coalition’s election campaign.
The immigration minister told the National Press Club asylum seekers who would be granted visas were those who arrived in Australia between July and December last year.
“Seventy five per cent of this group, including children, turned up under the previous government and had not been transferred to offshore processing centres,” Mr Morrison said, blaming a legacy caseload for the move.
“Offshore processing and resettlement has also been implemented. However, this has not been without its challenges,” he said.
History of temporary protection visas
The Howard Government introduced temporary protection visas (TPVs) in 1999 for asylum seekers arriving in Australia who were found to be refugees and owed protection.
TPVs were in place until 2008, when the Kevin Rudd Labor government announced they would be abolished because they were ineffective at reducing the number of asylum seekers coming to Australia.
In October last year, the Abbott Coalition government announced the reinstatement of TPVs, but it was blocked in the senate by the Greens and the Labor Party who called them ‘inhumane’.