Minister vows to work on protection visas

·2-min read

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has pledged the government will keep its promise to grant permanent protection to people on temporary visas.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers rallied outside Parliament House on Tuesday demanding Labor enact its promise to abolish the temporary protection visa (TPV) which is impacting on people's ability to find permanent work, reunite their families and access tertiary education.

Refugees and asylum seekers remain in limbo while the system remains in place, one rally organiser and Iranian TPV holder said.

"All that we ask is that the government works out the details of moving people off TPVs on to permanent visas, so our life in limbo ends sooner rather than later," Arad Nik said.

The Refugee Action Coalition also wants to see the removal of the fast-track visa system, branding it "neither fair nor fast" with asylum seekers then put on the "even more precarious" bridging visa.

Mr Giles said on Twitter the government recognised people on TPVs and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) had been "living in limbo".

"The Albanese government has made a commitment to transition those who have been found to be owed our protection on temporary protection visas to permanent protection," the minister wrote.

"We will keep this promise and meet our commitment as soon as possible."

He said the government was seeking a new mechanism - in consultation with TPV holders, legal experts and MPs - that is "effective, which can be applied to all members of the cohort consistently, and which is enduring".

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Karen Andrews said the government was seeking to unravel Operation Sovereign Borders and risk more deaths at sea.

The operation has three pillars: boat turn-backs where it is safe to do so, regional processing and TPVs.

Around 18,000 people are in Australia on TPVs or SHEVs.

"TPVs are a major deterrent to stop people smugglers from profiting off desperate people who will pay to be brought into Australian waters on dangerously unsafe vessels," Ms Andrews said.

She said the "mixed messaging" from Labor was driving a resurgence in boat arrivals.