The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer announced today that his party would support a joint initiative with the Abbott Government to set up a new visa.
The Government is introducing this new visa into parliament.
Mr Palmer said negotiations with the Government and the Minister for Immigration the Honourable Scott Morrison had resulted in keeping 1,550 people in Australia who would have otherwise been transferred to Nauru or Manus Island from Christmas Island and mainland Australia. These people include 436 children and their families and 32 unaccompanied minors.
This arrangement would also see processes to allow the caseload of 30,000 Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMAs) to be resolved, resulting in billions of dollars of savings to the Australian Government and positive contributions to the Australian economy.
Mr Palmer said Palmer United Party negotiations with the Government have ensured the introduction of a new visa to be known as the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV).
The SHEV encourages enterprise through earning and learning while also strengthening regional Australia.
The visa would be valid for five years and allows for the visa holder to be located in a region identified through a national nomination process.
Areas identified are those locations in Australia where labour resources are most needed.
“These visa holders will be targeted to regions and encouraged to fill regional vacancies,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“Following full employment and positive community involvement for a period of 3.5 years, the visa holder can apply for an onshore visa.
“Holders of SHEVs will be eligible for work rights, access to employment services and mutual obligations, Medicare, trauma counselling, translation services, complex case support and access to education for school aged children,’’ he said.
During the five year period, visa holders have an opportunity to provide bona fides and contribute to Australian society by paying taxes and adding to the economy’s productivity levels.
Mr Palmer said these changes will help Australia and allows for a crucial stepping stone for refugees to make a positive contribution to Australian society.
“It’s a win, win situation,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“It’s a win for refugees who now have a safe haven visa and can protect themselves and work towards establishing themselves in an Australian community.
“And it’s a win for regional Australia, which will benefit from the additional work resources in communities where there is a labour shortage, thereby increasing the viability of these areas.”
Mr Palmer said the Government had also agreed to cease transferring people, who arrived prior to December 19, 2013 and are currently on the Australian mainland and Christmas Island, to Nauru or Manus Island for offshore processing.
The Government has also agreed to continue to support assisted voluntary return packages, particularly as a mechanism to reunite unaccompanied minors with their families in their home countries.
“The Palmer United Party will support these measures as they reduce billions of dollars of expenditure which can be used for crucial services including health and education.
“They also give refugees certainty to re-establish themselves into a normal Australian lifestyle.
“This is a good result. It is safe and secure.
“The Palmer United Party would like to thank the Government and congratulate Minister Morrison on his open mind and willingness to resolving the unprocessed caseload of 30,000 illegal maritime arrivals in Australia,” Mr Palmer said.