Weekly media round-up No. 44

The Abbott Government introduced a Bill which would toughen Australia’s approach to processing asylum seekers, including: changing the threshold for those seeking protection from a ‘real chance’ of significant harm should they be returned to ‘more likely than not’; requiring applicants to provide documentary evidence of their identity and nationality; and refusing visas unless the minister determines ‘ it is in the public interest'.

The Bill comes after the government offered Iraqi asylum seekers voluntary return packages valued at $6000, in a deal which Fairfax Media reported was taken up by fewer than 10 asylum seekers this month.

Footage emerged of a never shown message recorded in September last year from Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to asylum seekers detained on Papua New Guinea and Nauru. The Minister is heard to state, ‘ There are new rules in place under this government so I urge you to think carefully about your next decision and to make a decision to get on with the rest of your life and to not remain here and take the option to go back to the country from which you’ve originally come. ’ The footage follows an announcement by Operation Sovereign Borders commander Angus Campbell, who claimed that Australia is a generous country in relation to treatment of refugees.

A Senate inquiry into the deadly violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February produced evidence that Papua New Guinean police were given responsibility for taking control of the compound, contrary to previous statements from security company, G4S.

A boat allegedly containing 153 asylum seekers en route to Australia from India made contact with Australian media over the weekend, following a two week journey, with those on board stating that the boat was leaking and in need of assistance. Mr Morrison failed to make comment on the boat, and a second alleged boat interception off the coast of Indonesia, reporting that there were no significant incidents at sea.

Inside Story commented on the legal rights of babies who are born in detention and the health effects of detention on their mothers.