November 18, 2014 | ABC News
Asylum seekers who registered with the United Nations in Indonesia after June this year will no longer be eligible for resettlement in Australia, the Immigration Minister has announced.
The Federal Government said the move would hurt people smugglers.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would continue to resettle some refugees who registered with the UN in Indonesia before that point, however there would not be as many places allocated, meaning the waiting period would be much longer.
“These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.
“The Government’s policies under Operation Sovereign Borders have not only saved lives at sea, but also allowed more places under our humanitarian program for the world’s most desperate and vulnerable refugees.
“It is important that these places are not taken up by people seeking to exploit the program by shopping for resettlement through a transit country.”
Greens leader Christine Milne described the decision as disgraceful.
“This is more cruelty, it’s unacceptable, and it just shows the rest of the world that Australia is a very hard-hearted, self-centred country, and that is a very bad place for us to be in a global context,” she said.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s humanitarian program in 2014-15 would provide 13,750 places, including 11,000 places for people overseas.
He said the Indonesian government had been briefed on the Government’s latest decision.
Refugee and immigration lawyer David Manne said the change would mean more refugees would be trapped in limbo.
“The fundamental problem with this is that it does nothing to improve the plight of refugees needing protection within our region,” he told PM.
“Instead, what it does is again propose a move which will involve Australia shirking its responsibility to refugees in the region and failing to shoulder its fair share of the responsibility to protect refugees.
“It is also the type of move which indicates to the region that Australia is intent upon deterring refugees from coming to Australia, even by way of resettlement, without taking up its fair share of responsibility for the protection of refugees.”