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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 2) - The Australian Government has defended its immigration policies, saying criticism of its detention centers is misguided.

"People who are in detention centers in Australia are not refugees," said Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone. "That’s the whole point."

Vanstone said more than 12,000 visas were issued to refugees in 2003, many for permanent residency status.

"People who are refugees get a visa, and they're out in the community. People who are in detention are people who haven't accepted the decision that they're not refugees, and have refused to go home," she said.

The Minister says most new refugees to Australia are coming from Africa, the Middle East and South West Asia.

January 2, 2004

Radio Australia:


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