Measures to Strengthen Australian Border Proposed

16 May 2006


Under legislation introduced to Parliament 11 May, 2006, all unauthorized boat arrivals will be processed off-shore. In an announcement, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone stated that this was to ensure that Australia's strong border protection policies would not be undermined.

"In recent years we have stemmed the flow of unauthorized boat arrivals, which has enabled us to welcome more refugees from camps throughout the world who have been waiting years for resettlement", Senator Vanstone said. By proposing these strengthened measures, she hopes to discourage people from attempting to enter without a visa. Additionally, she commented that part of this is a response to discourage people who make a business out of human smuggling.

The Government had already announced on 13 April a decision to extend the current policy, which applies to people who arrive on Australian islands off the coast (offshore entry people) to all unauthorised arrivals by sea, including those on the mainland. The Government will now attempt to change the Migration Act through the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006.

All people arriving unlawfully on the mainland by sea on or after April 13, 2006 will, if the Bill becomes law, be subject to the new provisions. People airlifted to the Australian mainland at the end of their journey by sea will also be subject. Off-shore processing centres in a country outside Australia will be used for the processing of any claims regarding refugee protection.

Nobody will be able to apply for a visa from within Australia without the Minister's personal intervention.

'This will effectively eliminate the distinction between unauthorised boat arrivals at an excised offshore place and those who reach the mainland.'

Senator Vanstone added "The offshore locations will continue to meet relevant human rights standards in providing protection and care to people while their claims are assessed, and to people found to be refugees awaiting resettlement or planning voluntary return to their homeland"

"The Government's intention is that people found to be refugees will remain offshore for resettlement to a third country."

Australia uses a Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) to target immigrants with skills required by Australia on a year-by-year basis.The concern has been in some areas that illegal immigrants are wrongfully taking places that skilled and educated workers need, and that Australia needs to continue building its economy with.