News National Government announces refugee changes
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Government announces refugee changes

AAP
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The federal government will boost its refugee intake by 7500 as part of a deal with Senate crossbenchers.

Immigration Minister Scot Morrison announced on Wednesday that the increase will occur over four years and will bring the overall humanitarian intake to about 18,750.

Mr Morrison says the move will cost the government an estimated $100 million – a cost to be fully funded by savings within the immigration portfolio.

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The measure is one of a raft Mr Morrison has agreed to in order to win crossbench support for his bill to resurrect temporary protection visas.

He says the government will “hard-wire” the commitment into a so-called disallowable instrument, so the intake can’t be reduced without the Senate’s agreement.

The government has also agreed with Senator Nick Xenophon to amendments that will result in greater alignment with the UNHCR when it comes to refugee assessments.

As part of the changes, the government’s fast-tracking process will be limited to the 30,000 cases left over from Labor government.

The 25,000 asylum seekers now on bridging visas will be allowed work rights, denied to them by the previous Labor government.

Mr Morrison’s announcement came after reports that his bill was set to be defeated in the Senate.

“The ultimate determination of this bill is in the hands of the Senate, it is not for me to commentate on the position of individual senators,” Mr Morrison said.

The bill would also boost powers to turn back boats and head off a High Court challenge and create a five-year safe haven enterprise visa for genuine refugees.

The changes to the bill include: 

* Increase the refugee humanitarian intake in the 2014/15 budget by 7500 places over four years.

* Children currently in detention will be removed before Christmas.

* There will be a 2500 increase in 2017/18 and a 5000 increase in 2018/19 taking the intake in the final year to 18,700.

* The 25,000 asylum seekers now on bridging visas will be allowed work rights, denied to them by the previous Labor government.

* Australia’s interpretation of the UN Refugee Convention will be more aligned with its aims and principles.

* The fast-tracking process to clear a backlog of asylum claims will be limited to the 30,000 cases left over from Labor government.

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