Voters stand with refugees this election, ending an era of fear and division

Media Release

22 May 2022

Refugees and people seeking asylum have been subjected to unimaginably cruel and arbitrary policies over the last nine years. The results from the 2022 election have strongly rejected this politics of fear and division and clearly shown that Australians want a more humane and compassionate country for refugees.

The Australian Labor Party will form government, likely with support from the crossbench. Labor has made clear policy statements concerning refugees that the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) will want to see implemented within the first hundred days. These include providing permanent protection to the 19,000 refugees living with the cruelty and uncertainty of Temporary Protection Visas and so-called Safe Haven Enterprise Visas.

The ending of the so-called “Fast Track” system, which has denied thousands of people seeking asylum the right to fair and proper review of government decisions, with a new just and efficient process for assessing people’s needs for protection. The people who suffered under this process also need justice, Labor promising to return the Murugappan family home to Biloela is a positive first step.

As well as increasing Australia’s refugee intake, providing mainstream social services to all people seeking asylum and bringing an end to arbitrary and indefinite detention by introducing a 90-day rule for processing visa applications.

While Labor has made positive comments concerning family reunion more clarity is needed to ensure all people can be reunited with their loved ones quickly and there need to be clear resettlement pathways for all refugees held in offshore detention.

This election has also seen the emergence of new independent ‘Teal’ politicians, who have taken a principled stance against fear and division, clearly stating that they want a society and community that cares for refugees and people seeking asylum.

While policy differs the majority of the ‘Teal’ candidates are opposed to indefinite and arbitrary detention, want permanent protection for all refugees, want family reunion and want mainstream social support for all. Some, such as Dr Monique Ryan, also oppose offshore processing.

The Greens have also offered comprehensive, clear and positive policies that will make Australia a more compassionate and caring country for refugees. These include, but are not limited to, an end to offshore processing and a clear plan for permanent resettlement of all refugees. These policies have been rewarded by voters and clearly demonstrated that fear and division have failed.

Zaki Haidari, Ambassador for Refugee Advice & Casework Service, said: “It is only imaginary for refugees like myself to see an end to a cruel regime that has emotionally tortured and broke so many refugees but we are grateful to the Australian community today to choose humanity over cruelty.”

“Thousands of refugees and I burst into tears seeing a change in the government, Labor has promised to abolish TPV and SHEV visas and reunite families. I hope they deliver on their promise as soon as possible because we have suffered emotionally for too long and have been apart from our families for too long. The time is now to leave this cruelty behind and allow refugees to live with dignity, certainty and unite their families and loved ones.”

Thanush Selvarasa, human rights activist and refugee detained on Manus Island, PNG, Mantra and MITA, released on 28 Jan 2021 said: “The last 9 years we have been waiting for change, this change was needed for all Australians including refugees. How many refugees have not been able to see their family, how many have been kept from seeing them?”

“We don’t know the future but change is needed. We need to keep pressuring the new government as there are people living the in community with no future. Now we need a permanent visa, we need this now it is very important. For the last 9 years, we have been suffering. It is time to rebuild our lives and make a better future.”

Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at ASRC, said: “Only hours before the polls closed on Saturday the Morrison Government in one of the most shameful and desperate tactics in Australian electoral history tried to stoke fear and division around people seeking asylum from Sri Lanka. This tactic failed and marks an end to the fear and division that politicians have cynically used against refugees since Tampa in 2001.”

“Today thousands of refugees around Australia are waking up with hope for the first time in nearly a decade. Australians overwhelmingly voted against politicians that sought to use refugees as political pawns and deny them their freedom. This should be a wake-up call for every single politician, the message is clear: the era of fear and division is over, the politics of Tampa will no longer work, voters want a positive, fair, equal and compassionate country. The new Parliament has the opportunity to transform refugee policy and restore our humanity as a nation.”


Media contact: Sam Brennan 0428 973 324 or

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