Liberals \’in disarray\’ over protection visas

Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull\’s push to revisit the issue of temporary protection visas (TPVs) appears likely to create unrest in parts of the Liberal Party.


Mr Turnbull on Monday said he wanted to reinstate TPVs designed to make permanent residency status harder to get for people who arrive by boat.

Debate on the issue was sparked by last week\’s boat explosion near Ashmore Island off the northwest coast of Australia, in which five asylum seekers were killed and dozens more injured. Liberal Party member and former MP Bruce Baird said “it\’s not on” to bring back TPVs.

“We have moved on as a country. We have recognised the injustice of the previous system, and that\’s the way it should be,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday morning.

Mr Baird, still actively involved in the party, said there had been no polling, head count or vote on the issue but there would certainly be a lot of people, particularly moderates in the party, who would find it totally unacceptable.

However, Mr Turnbull indicated the party should examine the issue “with an open mind”. “So yes, TPVs, or perhaps I should put it another way, a different visa category, reinstating a different visa category for unauthorised boat arrivals should certainly be high on the agenda,” he said.

But going back to the exact same system before August needed to be considered based on advice and intelligence assessments, Mr Turnbull said.

There was always a range of views on the issue in the Liberal Party, he said.

“We don\’t all have the same opinion on every issue but we debate it, people have different views and then we come to a common view.”

The government seems unlikely to revert back to TPVs with Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus saying TPVs actually encouraged people smugglers and asylum seekers to come to Australia.