Last week, the Federal Government of Australia has decided to ban all the refugees and asylum seekers who are currently living at Manus Island and Nauru to enter Australia. This announcement has sparked a dispute as it asserts that the Government has future plans to bring changes to the Migration Act.
Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull stated, “This will send the strongest possible signal to the people smugglers … It is incredibly important that we send the clearest message. They must know that the door to Australia is closed to those who seek to come here by boat with a people smuggler. It is closed. Those passengers will never settle in this country.”
This legislation will also implement on those who have previously remained in the Pacific Islands. According to Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader stated that this is nothing but a distraction. She stated, “It’s a distraction from Peter Dutton’s hopeless mismanagement of his portfolio. It is extraordinary that three years on, this Government has not found third countries to resettle those people who are in limbo on Manus Island or Nauru. It’s time Peter Dutton started doing his job and finding a permanent resettlement option for these people.”
Many have accused the Government and reacted with a mixture of shock. Andrew Giles, the MP of Labor Party tweeted, "What sort of government looks to punish vulnerable people who’ve sought our help” Lisa Singh, senator of Labor Party tweeted, “What is the point of this if the Govt’s turn back policy is working? What is this cruel law really about?”
Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister of Australia stated that the changes in the Migration Act are not for those who are living in Australia right now. But yet, she did not completely rule out the topic of deportation.
“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.”
According to the legislation, the new act will be integrated by next week to those refugees who have tried to enter Australia by boat since the mid of the year 2013.
Bishop further stated, “My understanding is also that claims for asylum that have been processed in Australia, as was done under Labor, are not affected."