The Coalition introduced a proposal to amend the Migration Act. The amendment would see those who arrived in Australia by boat, excluding minors, from 2013 be banned from ever entering the country, including on tourist and business visas.
The proposal comes as the government hardens their stance on border protection. Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, has stated that the amendment would be in line with Australia’s international obligations.
Dutton has called on a Bill Shorten for Labour to back the proposal, as he claims they are a necessity to stop smugglers offering a “back door” to Australia for those who arrived illegally.
Former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has slammed the Turnbull government saying the proposal has been “designed to throw red meat at the Right, including the Hansonite insurgency, and to grovel to the broad politics of xenophobia.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has not ruled out the fears that this could pose for those refugees or asylum seekers already in Australia. “My understanding is that this legislation applies to those in offshore processing centres, including those who may have sought for example medical treatment in Australia, but are part of the cohort whose claim for asylum is being processed in a regional offshore processing centre,” she said. “My understanding is also that claims for asylum that have been processed in Australia, as was done under Labor, are not affected.”
Human Rights Law Centre’s director of legal advocacy, Daniel Webb, has expressed concern saying that those seeking protection should not be punished. “Those who’ve spent three years on a painful road to nowhere on Nauru and Manus should be brought back to safety in Australia,” he said.
Senator Pauline Hanson has welcomed the proposal telling Channel Seven that a tough stance is need and the message that Australia needs to send is “refugees are not welcome here.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the ABC that he did not agree with Hanson’s claims that refugees were not welcome. “We welcome refugees, they have made an enormous contribution to Australia,” he said. “But we are able to do that because we can maintain the integrity and security of our borders … the Australian Government, elected by the Australian people, determines who comes to Australia.”
If the amendment was to go ahead this would make the futures of the refugees situated in offshore detention sites even more uncertain. What is also becoming ultimately clear is that the national anthem is no longer true, for those who’ve come across the seas we do not have boundless plains to share.
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