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Labor's hypocrisy knows no bounds on asylum seeker policy.

When John Howard was prime minister, the ALP called temporary protection visas inhumane, unfair and ineffective.

A year after winning office in 2007, Labor abolished TPVs. It celebrated the fact.

But now, after years of rejecting the Opposition's call to restore this particular visa category, it has introduced one that's even more draconian.

Whereas TPVs allowed holders to work, those released into the community under the new regime will be given bridging visas that don't allow work rights and provide only meagre assistance.

The intention is to prevent asylum seekers who are eventually denied permanent protection getting the runner-up prize - the ability to earn an Australian wage while claims for refugee status are being assessed.

This can take up to two years.

People smugglers have been using this as a marketing ploy, telling would-be clients that even if their refugee claims are denied, they will be able to earn years of Australian wages. Not any longer.

Labor's plan is destined to create a migrant underclass in legal limbo for years, unable to work or contribute to the economy - a perfect way to promote disadvantaged ethnic enclaves and racial tension, you'd think.

If none of it stops or slows the boats, Labor's abandonment of its principles will be the least of its humiliations.