Immigration Minister Peter Dutton provided further detail about the Coalition’s proposed permanent ban on entry for asylum seekers who attempt to come to Australia by boat, even if they are genuine refugees, stating that it was designed to stop refugees from country hopping. Mr Dutton explained that the government intended to discourage asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island from going to a third country in order to apply for a visa to Australia.
Mr Dutton also said that the ban sought to prevent asylum seekers and refugees who arrived in Australia by boat from entering into ‘sham relationships’ overseas in order to enter Australia, and suggested that the ban would help to facilitate resettlement arrangements with third countries for refugees currently on Nauru and Manus Island.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called the proposed ban ‘ridiculous’ but did not commit to opposing the government’s plan until Labor had an opportunity to consider the enabling legislation. In response to the announcement, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd intervened in domestic politics for the first time in three years, describing the ban as ‘bad policy and bad politics’.
At an international level, a regional representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that the ban appeared to be in breach of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, which prohibits the imposition of penalties on refugees on account of their manner of entry or presence in a country.