Australia's opposition leader Bill Shorten has rejected a media report that claimed his party would be compassionate to asylum-seekers and welcome them into the country should the party win the election in July.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported that Shorten's centre left Labour Party has decided to grant permanent residency to those refugees who arrived in the country when it was last in power - Julian Gillard and Kevin Rudd were prime minister then. According to the newspaper, Labour will give 30,000 people living on temporary protection visas (TPV), full working rights in Australia.
Labour reportedly plans to scrap TPVs, which the conservative government introduced in 2014. The party has said that getting rid of temporary visas does not mean it will go easy on its check on illegal boat arrivals, AP reported.
Shorten blamed the ruling party for the Telegraph report saying: "This is the same old Liberal Party trying to reheat their same old lies and fear campaign. Labour, on 3 July [whoever wins the elections], will have same policy about stopping the boats. We will not put the people smugglers back into business."
Campaigning in Adelaide on Thursday (16 June), Shorten said Labour would continue the already existing strict border security policies, including stopping the boats and maintaining an offshore processing unit for asylum-seekers.
Under the current immigration policy, a temporary visa holder cannot sponsor his/her family to migrate to Australia or return to the country if they travel overseas.
Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton had already warned that giving permanent rights to asylum-seekers would cause chaos. Those opposing temporary visas argue that this would make refugees face an uncertain future and the probability that they might be sent back to their home soil one day.
Tackling the refugee crisis has been one of the main concerns for Australian leaders and the issue has been widely covered by political parties during their ongoing election campaign, with many comments on refugees sparking controversies.