Weekly media wrap - 4 November 2018

A number of asylum seeker families held on Nauru were quietly transferred to Adelaide and are receiving medical treatment. While the government initially refused to confirm whether this transfer occurred, Prime Minister Scott Morrison since admitted to working to reduce the number of children on Nauru, claiming that the number has halved in the last nine weeks. High Commissioner to the UK and former Attorney-General George Brandis stated that the Australian Government anticipates that all children on Nauru will be moved by the end of 2019.

Advocates claimed that these transfers signal that the government is conceding to public pressure and increased rhetoric from many areas of the government calling for children to be brought from offshore detention to Australia. There has been a perceivable increase in public concern about this issue, which was this week exemplified by thousands who protested in Sydney and Melbourne and by a recent poll which demonstrated that almost 80 per want asylum seeker children and families transferred off Nauru.  

The Federal Court stalled a federal government attempt to challenge the court’s jurisdiction to hear cases involving refugee transfers, and therefore also the court’s ability to order that refugees be brought to Australia. The matter was based on the government’s claim that a subsection of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) prevents Australian courts other than the High Court from hearing cases on ‘transitory persons’.

A Refugee Council of Australia report found that federal government cuts to asylum seeker support payments have meant that almost 80% of asylum seekers in Australia are now at risk of homelessness and destitution. This issue has resulted in charities and state governments being required to manage the burden, reportedly costing between $80-$120 million a year.