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Biggest post-war migration programme lacks fair go for families and refugees

The Gillard government's 2012 budget will fund the biggest migration programme since 1945, but fails to give a fair go to some of the world's most vulnerable people, the Australian Greens said today.

"Although Australia now has its largest permanent migration intake since World War Two, the government has overlooked Australia's humanitarian and family reunion places," Greens' Immigration & Citizenship spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

"The Immigration Minister has broken his promise to create 20,000 humanitarian places, leaving this year's intake capped at 13,750 places, which hasn't changed for the past four years.

"The total migration intake is 203,750 in 2012-13, against 182,450 in 2009-10*. Humanitarian places comprise just 6 percent of total migration places, compared to 18 percent under both the Keating and Howard governments.

"The government has prioritised skilled migration at the expense of every other vital category, such as family reunions. The government has failed to recognise the productivity potential of strengthening family reunion and lifting the humanitarian programme.

"The Greens are also disappointed the Immigration Minister has broken his promise to create 20,000 humanitarian places - something the Greens went to the 2010 election pledging to fulfil.

"The Minister has also not matched his rhetoric with reality by making it a priority to increase the number of family reunions as a percentage of the overall migration intake.

"Reunions are a vital component of a healthy society and have multiple benefits within communities. Raising the overall humanitarian intake shows Australia is rich enough and generous enough to help the less fortunate.

"The government is wrong to be both delaying its foreign aid goals and refusing to lift the cap on humanitarian places. Australia's government is sending the wrong message to the international community by these actions.

"We're also concerned at the punishment of refugees by imposing a six-month cap on resettlement services simply because they arrived by boat and not jet.

"This will apply more distress and trauma to these new Australians as well as putting strains on the social and charity groups who try supporting them.

"Last night's budget again wasted billions of taxpayer dollars by not putting time limits on indefinite mandatory detention. It also ignored the cheaper option of more community release places for people once health and security checks show it is safe to do so."

*Planned Migration Programme for 2012-13 of 190,000 plus 13,750 Humanitarian Intake. 2009-10 Planned Migration Programme of 168,700 plus 13,750.

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