By Andrew RawnsleyThe Australian Government is to make a big push to secure more than 50 per cent of all new visas, with a focus on those coming from countries affected by the refugee crisis, the Greens have announced.
The Greens have been quietly pushing for an increase in the cap to about 50,000 for those from countries that have been affected by a refugee crisis in the past 10 years.
The Coalition has said it wants a 50 per-cent cap, but has yet to provide details.
In a statement to the ABC, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the Government was “actively working with the Greens” on a solution, but could not provide details at the moment.
“We will continue to work with the Coalition to secure the most effective measures for a safe, humane and compassionate Australia, as the Government has said.”
Labor has made no secret of its concern that a 50-per-cent ceiling would mean people arriving from countries such as Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia and Sri Lanka would be barred from entering Australia.
But Greens Immigration spokesman Shane Rattenbury said the party would be seeking to secure a cap of at least 60,000.
“Our priority is to get people to stay here and that is why we’re working with people from other countries, including the countries of origin and destination, to see if we can secure the maximum number of people,” he said.
“The cap we’re looking at is at 60,001.”
Greens Immigration spokesman and immigration critic David Shoebridge said the Greens were not asking for a cap on refugees, but instead asked for a “fair, reasonable and compassionate approach”.
“What we’re really trying to do is try and get people out of this country to safety,” he told the ABC.
“So we are asking that there be a cap and that the Government is looking at a reasonable cap, not a cap that will make people feel more secure.”
“What’s really important to us is that the refugees we’re sending to Australia stay safe and we need to make sure that we can get people safely to Australia.”
Mr Shoebridges Immigration spokeswoman says the party has asked the Government to consider cap on new visa holders, but not refugees.
He said the cap would be based on a “clear and precise threshold” for visas, and would apply to “all visas that the Australian Government has to offer”.
The Greens also have asked for an immediate cap on people coming from other nations that have suffered significant refugee deaths.
They say people coming directly from those countries would be unable to enter Australia.
The issue has become an important issue as the Coalition has struggled to secure any new refugee commitments after the death of refugee activist Aylan Kurdi in a Turkish boat on the Aegean Sea.
The Coalition says the number of refugees arriving in Australia each year has been around 2,000, but Labor says the figure is higher.
Immigration Minister Peter dutton has said he would like to see the number under 50,001, but the Government’s plan would not specify that number.