Subject: ABC: Timorese Asylum Seekers - Ten Years On

Audio at segment starts about 11 minutes in.

Monday 24/3/2003

East Timorese Asylum Seekers - Ten Years On

Summary: For the past ten years, at least 1,650 East Timorese have been living in Australia. The majority of these asylum seekers fled East Timor after the Dili massacre in 1991.

Now the Federal Government wants to send these East Timorese back to their now free and independent country, because despite having set up businesses, marrying and having children here, they don't necessarily have a legal right to stay in Australia.

A special amendment to the Migration act will be tabled in the Senate this week requesting a special visa class be created for these East Timorese. This motion was debated in the Senate last November and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, responded to it by restating the Government's position that it was not condering the establishment of a special visa class but applications from the East Timorese in question will be processed on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Ruddock has said, though, that he accepts that some individuals will be in unusual situations and he's prepared to look at those. Under Section 417 of the Migration Act the Minister can substitute the decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal for a more favourable one using his ministerial discretionary powers.

Guests on this program:

Philip Ruddock Federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

Senator Trish Crossin Labor Senator for the Northern Territory

Liz Beok Member of the International Commission of Jurists

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