The next election will take place on 2 July 2016. The graphic and text below describe the major parties' asylum and refugee policies.


Liberal Party / The Nationals (The Coalition)

The Coalition introduced Operation Sovereign Borders when it last formed government in September 2013.

At the 2016 election, the Coalition’s asylum policy retains existing measures, such as boat turnbacks and offshore processing at regional processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru. The Coalition would also maintain mandatory immigration detention in Australia for all unauthorised asylum seekers.

Australia's current refugee intake is 13,750 places in 2016. The Coalition would raise the intake to 18,750 places in 2018-2019. These places will not go to asylum seekers who arrive in Australian waters by boat.

In addition, the Coalition has committed to taking an additional 12,000 refugees from conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the first of whom have already arrived in Australia.

The Coalition has re-introduced, and will maintain, Temporary Protection Visas.  


Australian Labor Party

Labor supports boat turnbacks, placing its policy in line with the Coalition. Labor also supports offshore processing of asylum seekers at regional processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

Labor would work with the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru to introduce independent oversight of these centres, with a stated goal of making them safe and humane.

Labor’s asylum seeker policy seeks to support the resettlement of refugees in Australia after formal assessment by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Labor has committed to increasing the annual refugee intake from 13,750 places to 27,000 places by 2025, and to providing $450 million of funding to the UNHCR over three years.

If elected, Labor would appoint an independent advocate to represent the rights of children in detention, whether they are held in onshore or offshore immigration detention. Labor would require mandatory reporting of any child abuse that occurs in these facilities and seek to speed up the time it takes to process applications of all kinds for asylum in Australia.

Labor would abolish Temporary Protection Visas. Throughout the election campaign, Labor has claimed to be on a “unity ticket” with the Coalition in respect of asylum policies.


Australian Greens

The Greens’ policy states that “seeking asylum is a humanitarian issue rather than an issue of border security or defence, and people seeking asylum must be treated with compassion and dignity.”

In contrast to Labor and the Coalition, if elected, the Greens would close the regional processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru. All individuals seeking asylum would instead be detained at onshore processing centres, with a maximum detention period of 30 days in which their asylum claims would be assessed. The Greens would also establish a Royal Commission into children in immigration detention.

The Greens would increase the refugee intake to 50,000 places per year. In addition, the Greens would establish a skilled refugee visa programme accepting 10,000 people per year. This quota increase and speedier claim processing would be funded by the offshore processing centres’ closure, which the Greens estimate would yield around $2.9 billion in total savings.

The Greens would abolish Temporary Protection Visas, and provide Permanent Protection Visas to all refugees in Australia. The Greens would also abolish the Australian Border Force and return its functions to the Department of Immigration.


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Last updated 16 June 2016