The Australian Government is preparing to introduce legislation that would prevent asylum seekers and refugees from accessing Australia’s offshore processing centres, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott announcing the move today.
The Federal Government announced today it would introduce legislation to amend the Migration Act to prevent people who arrive in Australia from accessing processing centres in offshore detention.
The move comes after Australia intercepted 1,000 asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea, the country’s largest island, and in August 2015 intercepted a boat from the Central African Republic.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Abbott said the change would allow those who are unable to apply for protection to be processed in Australia.
“In line with the Government’s commitment to provide a safe, humane and compassionate home for asylum seekers, we will also be able to offer the best possible support to those who have come here to seek asylum,” Mr Abbott told a press conference.
“The Government will continue to work closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to secure Australia’s borders and ensure we are providing a safe and effective environment for refugees and asylum seekers.”
Mr Abbott said a proposal to open the centres would be “fairly simple”.
“There are a number of things we can do to make the system fairer and more efficient,” he said.
“This would mean we would no longer be able, as a country, to hold people who are already here and try and make them into permanent residents, or they would be able apply for asylum under the new law.”
Mr Morrison has said the proposed changes would allow people who have been in detention to enter Australia.
The Prime Minister said the government would also consider providing funding for an additional 100 offshore processing camps to be established.
Mr Morrison said Australia was a safe country, but that “we cannot be indifferent to the safety and well-being of our people”.
“The safety of our communities must come first and we must act accordingly,” he added.ABC/wires