By Casey Neill
Refugees should have twice as long to respond to a notice to cancel their residency, say Greater Dandenong Councillors.
Cr Roz Blades moved a motion at the Tuesday 13 March council meeting to lobby state and federal MPs over the 14-day response time.
She said refugees who held permanent visas, applied for citizenship and received Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation had just two weeks to respond to the decision.
“If a permanent visa is cancelled, the person becomes an unlawful non-citizen and is liable to be placed in immigration detention losing any entitlement they have as a permanent resident to income support, Medicare and work rights,” she said.
“If the visa cancelled is a protection visa, the person is not able to make a further application for a protection visa unless they are given permission to do so by the Minister for Home Affairs.”
Cr Blades said the timeframe should be extended to 28 days with the option for further extension at the discretion of the administrating case officer.
She said she was asked to look into the issue as a council representative on a refugees and asylum seekers advisory group.
Cr Blades said the timeframe was unfair and her colleagues agreed, unanimously supporting the motion.
Cr Sean O’Reilly said: “We’re not saying that the judgement should be this way or the other.”
“People should have adequate time to put forward their case and defend themselves against something as potentially important as being deported from Australia.
“We’re standing up as a council and saying ‘we want this looked at seriously’.”
Cr Matthew Kirwan said: “It is simply about giving refugees who are holding permanent protection visas a fair go by giving them a reasonable of amount of time to respond to issues raised in a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation.”
“I commend Cr Blades in raising this issue which, given the amount of refugees in our community, is a very relevant issue for this council.”