AUSTRALIA has announced plans to permanently ban any asylum seeker who tries to reach its shores by boat from ever visiting the country through a proposed law.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday that the government is seeking to amend the 1958 Migration Act to prevent irregular maritime arrivals taken to any regional processing country from being able to apply for an Australian visa, even if they are listed as refugees.
“The bill will apply to all taken to a regional processing country since the 19th of July, 2013,” Turnbull said.
It was on that same date that the previous Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that no irregular maritime arrival would ever settle in Australia.
This means that asylum seekers sent to Manus Island and Nauru would never be able to step foot in Australia.
The proposed law would affect up to 3,000 people presently at the detention center or in Australia for medical treatment, as well as the thousands of others who have since returned to their home countries – they will not be allowed to ever enter Australia, be it as tourists, to do business, or as an Australian’s spouse.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the policy would not apply to anyone who was under the age of 18 on the date they arrived at either Manus Island, Nauru or any other country designated as a regional processing country.
Refugee lawyer David Manne criticized the move, telling Reuters that Australia should be doing more to protect asylum seekers rather than taking tougher measures.
“It is fundamental that Australia lifts its effort to make a far greater contribution to this global crisis.
“The way to do it is not to propose further measures that are about protecting borders rather than protecting people,” he said.
In the announcement, Turnbull said the proposed bill will be presented to parliament in its next sitting, adding that the law was about sending a message to those trying to make a profit from smuggling people.
“If they seek to bring people to Australia those passengers will never settle in this country,” he said.
Additional reporting from Associated Press