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$19,000 fast track visa fees to hurt most vulnerable refugees

The Greens have called on the Australian Government to explain why they have proposed to allow fast-tracking of refugee visa applications for a cost of $19,000 when there are already refugees waiting for decades to have their claims processed.

"Giving refugee protection to people based on whether they can afford $19,000 is more cynical politics from the Abbott government," Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said today.

“If this proposal is formalised we can guarantee that the most vulnerable people will continue to miss out on having their visa’s approved, with those who can afford fast track taking a place of those who can’t.

“Allowing people who can afford to buy their way in will further congest an already clogged system. This is an unfair situation for people who cannot afford to fork out thousands more on visa fees.

“We know that some people who have already lodged family reunion visas are looking at a waiting list that was at last count 27 years long. This is virtually a lifetime for people who are trying to escape war and torture in places like Afghanistan or Syria.

“If we start selling visas to the highest bidder, we’ll see wait times get even longer for those who can’t afford it.

“It’s a cynical exercise for the Government to claim this as a cost saving measure.

“If the Government were serious about saving money they would close Manus Island and Nauru, and stop paying private contractors $1.2 billion of taxpayer’s money to abuse men, women and children.

“They could also start processing existing family reunion visas.

“And if the Government would like people who are trying to settle in Australia to pay their own way, as they claim this is about, they could grant all bridging visa holders work rights.”

Media Contact: Rachel Ryan 0427 604 760

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