Coalition defends plans to up payments to returning asylum seekers

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Labor has attacked the government for increasing payments to asylum seekers to return home. as an asylum-seeker reportedly set himself alight.

Another Tamil asylum seeker has set himself on fire in Melbourne.

The 40-year-old man, who is on a bridging visa, is being treated in hospital for minor burns, according to the Tamil Refugee Council.

Meanwhile, the federal Coalition has been criticised for increasing payments to asylum seekers to return home, as well as setting a limit to the number that can be processed.

The Abbott government is offering up to $10,000 to asylum seekers to encourage them to return to the countries they fled.

"It has been the standard practice for more than a decade for settlement packages to be offered to those who voluntarily return home," Mr Morrison told reporters today.

"The packages are tailored individually to each and every person who decided to voluntarily return home."

Mr Morrison would not elaborate on dollar figures when questioned, although he said the minimum figure was 'obviously' zero.

Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer earlier confirmed that different amounts of money are being offered to asylum seekers depending on their individual circumstances.

"These are people who are voluntarily returning home and...it is safe for them to return home," she said on Sky News. "It is simply to allow them to set their lives back up when they do return home. And it is done on an individual basis."

Under the previous Labor federal government, asylum seekers were offered up to $2,000 to return to their country of origin. The amount now being offered is $10,000 for Lebanese asylum seekers, $7,000 for Iranian asylum seekers, $4,000 for Afghan asylum seekers and $3,300 for Nepalese, Burmese and Sudanese asylum seekers, Fairfax media reports

Opposition Immigration Minister Richard Marles says offering asylum seekers thousands of dollars will not speed up the processing of asylum seekers.

"We don't need blank cheques, we need people being processed. But I would remind you that when Scott Morrison was in opposition he opposed Labor's own re-integration packages and now he is offering sums that are triple the amount," he told reporters.

"In opposition, Scott Morrison opposed the PNG arrangement, now it forms the heart of his own strategy. There is no bridge of hypocrisy that Scott Morrison will not cross."

Ms O'Dwyer defended the government's decision to increase the financial incentives offered to asylum seekers.

"We want to make sure that when people return home that they are set up for success," she said.

The development comes a day after the High Court ruled the Immigration Minister can't impose a limit on how many refugee protection visas he can issue.

In March, the minister signed a legal instrument saying a maximum of 2773 protection visas could be granted in the year to June 30.
  
The United Nations says the number of asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced people worldwide has surpassed $50 million for the first time since World War II.

A report released yesterday identified the key drivers for the increase as the conflicts in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Source: World News Australia

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