Labor increases pressure on government over secret report on refugees

The Morrison government has denied a push from Labor’s Kristina Keneally to release a ‘secret’ report exploring refugee resettlement.

The shadow home affairs spokesperson has accused the Morrison government of hiding a 'secret' report on refugee resettlement from the public, after refusing a Senate push to disclose the review.

The report was commissioned last year however the federal government has kept its contents under wraps since it was delivered to them in February.

Leaked details to the Sydney Morning Herald have already revealed the report would urge the Morrison government to create a ‘more positive narrative’ on refugees to help their economic prospects.

Immigration Minister David Coleman has now rejected an Order of the Senate to release the report, which has not been seen by SBS News.

“As the documents referred to are under consideration of the Cabinet I seek to claim public interest immunity from complying with the order,” Mr Coleman said in a statement tabled in Parliament.

Regional Visa
Minister for Immigration David Coleman

Kristina Keneally and Greens Senator Nick McKim had made the push for the report’s findings to be disclosed, with the shadow home affairs minister lashing the government's cautious approach.

“It was Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself who announced this review with much fanfare back in December and the report was delivered to the Government in February,” she said.

“What is the Morrison government hiding?”

Labor Senator Kristina Keneally has mounted pressure over a 'secret' report on refugees.
Labor Senator Kristina Keneally has mounted pressure over a 'secret' report on refugees.

The Federal government's review exploring the “integration, employment and resettlement” of humanitarian migrants was led by Professor Peter Shergold, a former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and now chancellor of Western Sydney University. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the inquiry aimed to “better ensure refugees and humanitarian entrants can make valuable contributions to our society and our economy,” upon it being announced.

When details of the report’s findings were leaked, the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre’s Anastasia Magriplis told SBS News she was "deeply concerned" the review had not been disclosed.

“This problem is not going to go away and we really ask the government to just be respectful and responsible with this information,” she said.

“They’ve commissioned this report they need to release it.”

Greens Senator Nick McKim.
Greens Senator Nick McKim.

The leaked details also warned against a shift towards selecting refugees based on perceived economic merit rather than on humanitarian grounds.

Refugee Council of Australia chief executive Paul Power also expressed a desire to see the report’s findings, saying the "humanitarian" focus of the program is "absolutely critical."

Settlement Council of Australia chief executive Tammy Wolffs has said the report bares "big implications" for the sector.

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