Shepparton News

POLICY ON BOAT ARRIVALS MUST REMAIN: DRUM

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Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said while he sympathise­d with Ali Alizada’s plight, the government had made a clear decision on refugees who arrived in Australia by boat.

‘‘The government is not about to go back on its policy of preventing those people from coming to Australia,’’ he said.

‘‘I feel for Ali and I am frustrated by the situation he finds himself in. But he has chosen to come here by boat.’’

He said despite Mr Alizada’s Temporary Protection Visa status, there was no pressure on him to return to Afghanista­n.

He said Mr Alizada and his family were free to apply for a permanent visa to live in Australia and, under Australian law, their applicatio­n must be considered. However, they must make the applicatio­n from Afghanista­n.

Mr Drum said the government was now actively considerin­g raising the current allocation of 3000 humanitari­an visas for Australia.

‘‘Three thousand is the floor and there is the intention of raising that number,’’ he said.

Mr Drum said his Shepparton office was currently working with local Afghan family members of about 30 people left behind in Afghanista­n who had been employed by coalition forces.

‘‘We are trying to get the Taliban to stick to their promise of allowing those who wish to go, to go. But it depends on how genuine they are. I believe they will close the borders and make it difficult to get out. They are a barbaric regime,’’ he said.

Mr Drum said there were now more than three million Afghans displaced outside Afghanista­n and one million displaced within the country because of Taliban violence.

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