Anthony Albanese was forced to issue another correction on his campaign trail after incorrectly stating that Labor supports temporary protection visas, with the Opposition Leader saying he did not hear the journalist’s question correctly.
At a short press conference outside a church in Cairns on Sunday, Mr Albanese was asked whether he supported operation sovereign borders and, if so, would he retain temporary protection visas if he wins power.
Mr Albanese said “yes” before quickly moving on to the next question.
But just a few minutes later, after ending the press conference, he gave another address to media where he said he had only heard the part of the question which referred to operation sovereign borders and not the part regarding TPVs.
“Earlier on I heard half the question…Labor’s policy is to support operation sovereign borders. We support offshore processing. We support resettlement in third countries. We don’t support temporary protection visas,” he said.
TPVs are a type of visa available to people who arrive in Australia without a visa and are found to be owed protection obligations.
They only allow the holder to stay in Australia temporarily as opposed to permanent protection visas which grant permanent residency.
TPVs have been criticised by human rights activists because they argue they leave people who have found to have qualified for protection in limbo.
Labor have long opposed TPVs citing concerns they are an expensive, bureaucratic process and are given to people who are already living in Australia, paying taxes and creating jobs. It is one of the few areas of difference between the two parties on their refugee and border security policies.
Last year Mr Albanese had criticised the Morrison Government for giving Afghans who had fled the Taliban TPVs.
“The idea that people, for example many of whom are Hazaras, are on temporary protection visas – the idea that the circumstances are going to change, that these are temporary circumstances – is just not real” Mr Albanese said at the time.
“It doesn’t acknowledge the circumstances which these people confront. And we want them to fully participate in Australian society, and they should have the capacity to become full Australian citizens.”
The clarification comes after Defence Minister Peter Dutton seized on comments Mr Albanese made last week when he said “turning boats back means that you don’t need offshore detention”.
Mr Dutton claimed this meant ALP were planning to shutdown offshore detention centres.
Mr Albanese, however, said he had no plans to shutdown centres and had simply been making the point that the boat turnback policy had been effective in stopping arrivals meaning people had not needed to be placed into centres.
Following the church visit, the Labor leader flew to Byron Bay where he met with local Reverend Rosie Wynter who has been assisting with flood relief efforts.
He was joined by his partner Jodie Haydon and local Labor member for Richmond Justine Elliott.
He finished the day at Byron Bay Bluefest was set to join music legend Jimmy Barnes on stage on Sunday night.