Australian government used ASIO to stop refugees obtaining visas
12 February 2018
A secret Australian cabinet submission, published two weeks ago, reveals that Scott Morrison, then the immigration and border protection minister, in 2013 asked the country’s political spy agency to block refugees from obtaining permanent protection visas (PPVs).
The document proves that about 700 officially-recognised refugees were deliberately denied visas and many were kept languishing in indefinite detention.
Among the handful of files the Australian Broadcasting Corporation chose to report from a trove of thousands of “top-secret” papers, this is the only document that actually exposes a previously unknown government abuse.
The cabinet submission, marked “sensitive” and dated October 10, 2013, sheds further light on the extent to which successive governments, both Liberal-National and Labor, have gone to expunge the basic legal and democratic rights of asylum seekers.
It also demonstrates how governments and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) have exploited the fraudulent banner of “national security” to demonise asylum seekers.
The document was written following the 2013 election as the new Liberal-National government rushed to replace PPVs with temporary protection visas (TPVs) for all asylum seekers who arrive, or had already arrived, in Australia by boat.
A “cabinet decision” approved a formal request to the Director General of Security, who heads the spy agency, to “align ASIO security processing priorities” with a ministerial direction.
That direction was issued to his department and all review tribunals to stall visa applications for the 700 people who had already met, or were close to meeting, the “prescribed criteria”…