Between July 2017 and February 2019 1,779 Malaysians had their visas cancelled before clearing immigration, a rate of more than 20 each week.
When compared against total removals from Australia, this represents a third, even though Malaysia provides fewer than one in 20 tourists to Australia.
The issue for the Australian government is that many of these people then go on to apply for protection visas in a bid to stay longer. The electronic visa, officially called an “electronic travel authority”, was made available to Malaysians in 1997.
An interesting part of Australia’s visa system is that we have an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) through which those who’ve had their visas rejected can appeal the decision to this ostensibly independent body. The appeal of the rejection of visa applications, including protection visas, allows them to stay in Australia — often for two years or more — with full work rights.
Defending these appeals has cost taxpayers close to $50 million in the past three years. It further compounds the waiting times for visas and ties up the resources of the AAT. Figures from the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said 90 per cent of air arrivals had claims for protection rejected.
Jason Wood, the new Minister for Multicultural Affairs, has stated that a parliamentary committee, which Mr Wood chaired in February, recommended that electronic visa holders who lodged a protection visa application be “fast-tracked” and have limited rights to appeal.
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