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Visa row heats up as Morrison orders freeze
The West Australian

The Abbott Government has stopped issuing all permanent visas to asylum seekers to crank up pressure on Labor and the Greens to allow the reintroduction of temporary protection visas.

By freezing the number of protection visas, the Government has put the status of 33,000 asylum seekers in limbo.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told _The West Australian _last night that the freeze would not be lifted until the Opposition allowed the Government to bring back TPVs.

"I have shut the shop on permanent protection visas this year," Mr Morrison said, adding that his legislative directive effectively capped the number of visas at the 1650 that have already been granted.

Mr Morrison has also placed a halt on any asylum seeker beginning the process of applying for a permanent protection visa, although the freeze will not affect people applying for refugee status offshore.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday threatened to force Parliament to sit until Christmas if TPVs were not introduced, demanding Labor respects the coalition's mandate rather than give voters the "two-fingered salute".

TPVs were introduced by the Howard government and gave only rolling three-year periods of protection to refugees - meaning holders could be repatriated if conditions in their home countries improved.

TPV holders were denied family reunion rights but were allowed to work.

Under changes introduced by Labor, thousands of asylum seekers were dumped in the community on bridging visas but were denied work rights - largely leaving their welfare in the hands of groups such as the Red Cross.

"Having damaged our country in government, Labor and the Greens are now trying to continue to damage from opposition," Mr Abbott said.

"This Government will never allow people who come here illegally by boat to gain permanent residency."

The Prime Minister says the Opposition and the Greens should move aside and allow the Government to introduce border protection measures it promised at the election. Labor frontbencher Kim Carr opposed the move and said the visas could result in further tragedies because they acted as a magnet for women and children.