You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Dutton visa ban leaves room for families

AAP logoAAP 14/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has promised to look at individual cases of families potentially being separated by a new refugee resettlement deal with the United States and a proposed lifetime visa ban.

But he wants the Labor opposition to endorse both policies, to ensure people smugglers aren't encouraged to continue their illegal trade and that the Nauru and Manus Island processing centres are emptied.

However, Labor has sought to broaden the immigration debate calling for a government clampdown on temporary skilled migrants under the 457 visa class.

The ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night aired the story of the Ahmed family, whose father is on Manus Island and faces being sent to the US without the ability to return to Australia to be with his wife and children in Sydney.

Mr Dutton told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday that while the visa ban bill gives the immigration minister some scope a ban would send an important signal to people smugglers.

"We have been very clear about the ministerial intervention powers which will allow the minister of the day to look at particular cases - for example, where families may have been separated," he said.

"We can look at a sensible way at each of these measures but for (Opposition Leader Bill) Shorten to be saying he is blocking this because he is worried about people coming here on tourist visas in 40 years demonstrates he doesn't have the capacity to deal with this issue today."

Asked whether the federal government would negotiate with the Senate cross bench to pass the visa ban bill, Mr Dutton said it was an issue for Labor.

"If (Mr Shorten) decides to support the government, that is important not only in the sense of getting the legislation through but, more importantly, for the people smugglers to hear a united message from the Australian political leaders."

Mr Shorten, who was in Townsville on Tuesday, said the government should be focusing on stopping rorting of the visa system and its impact on jobs and local economies.

"Now is the time to prioritise Australian jobs and we are going to do it by toughening the rules around visas and saying to those employers who have a need to employ overseas labour, that they should have a training program to give locals a go," Mr Shorten said.

Asked whether he was taking a leaf out of Donald Trump's campaign book, he said Labor had been standing up for Australian jobs for 125 years.

He received support from Liberal National Party MP George Christensen who said no 457 visas should be issued in areas of high unemployment such as central and north Queensland.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Shorten, as employment minister in the Labor government, was in the "Olympic grade of granting 457 visas".

However, a Labor spokesman said Mr Shorten had inherited a flawed system developed by the Howard government.

Meanwhile, US officials are expected in Australia in coming days for talks on resettling 1600 processed refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon