Backing comments by his immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, the Opposition Leader said not enough was being done to keep tabs on asylum-seekers released from immigration detention on bridging visas – a claim denied by immigration officials.
“The government doesn’t know where they are, but the government has to know where they are so that if they are found to be refugees they can be notified and if they are found not to be refugees they can be sent back to their original countries if it is appropriate to do so,” Mr Abbott said.
“Obviously the government needs to know where people are and at the moment people are just disappearing into the community.
“At the moment we’ve got a situation where the boats are coming in ever greater numbers and detention centres are overcrowded and overflowing. Thousands of people are being released into the community without any supervision and the government has lost control of the system.”
Earlier this week Mr Morrison called for special “behaviour protocols” for asylum-seekers currently in the community on bridging visas, with police and neighbours notified if an asylum-seeker was living in their area.
Mr Abbott today backed Mr Morrison’s stance.
“Of course, the government has to maintain control of the system,” Mr Abbott said.
However the Immigration Department said asylum-seekers were already heavily monitored when placed in the community on bridging visas.
“As the condition of their visa, IMAs (irregular maritime arrivals) on bridging visas are required to report to the department on a regular basis either in person or by phone depending on the clients’ specific circumstances,” a department spokeswoman told The Australian.
“Furthermore, it is a condition of the bridging visa that the person must advise the department of their address and provide two working days notice prior to changing address.”Source: The Australian – “Tony abbott says bridging visa system is out of control”
- Immigration challenges Abbott’s bridging visa claims (abc.net.au)
- Few asylum seekers charged with crime (theage.com.au)
- Australian detention centres are “Fawlty Towers” of global immigration community (craighill.net)