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No advantage onshore for boat arrivals

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21 November 2012


People who arrived by boat post-13 August and all future arrivals will have the ‘no advantage’ principle applied to their cases onshore, even if they are not transferred offshore for regional processing, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.

Mr Bowen said given the number of people who had arrived by boat since 13 August, it would not be possible to transfer them all to Nauru or Manus Island in the immediate future.

“Accordingly, some of these people will be processed in the Australian community. They will not however be issued with a permanent Protection visa if found to be a refugee, until such time that they would have been resettled in Australia after being processed in our region,” Mr Bowen said.

“People arriving by boat are subject to this ‘no advantage’ principle, whether that means being transferred offshore to have their claims processed, remaining in detention, or being placed in the community.

“Transfers to Nauru and Manus Island will continue, however in the coming weeks and months my department will begin releasing some people who arrived by boat on or after 13 August into the community on bridging visas.

“Consistent with ‘no advantage’, people from this cohort going onto bridging visas will have no work rights and will receive only basic accommodation assistance, and limited financial support.”

People’s claims will be processed while in the community under this same principle. However, consideration can be given to transfer these people offshore at a future date. Their status as offshore entry people is unchanged.

Mr Bowen said that while construction of permanent facilities offshore were underway, the Government would also make temporary changes to immigration detention facilities onshore to cater for short-term accommodation requirements.

“This includes reopening the Pontville site in Tasmania, which had been maintained as a contingency facility since March this year. Capacity at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation will also be increased by about 300 places,” he said.

Mr Bowen also reiterated the Government’s commitment to putting in place the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, and implementing a safer and more orderly migration program.

“No one should doubt this Government’s resolve to breaking the people smugglers’ business model and save lives at sea,” he said.

“We will continue to regularly transfer people to Nauru and Manus Island.

“We will also continue to return people where they do not engage Australia's international obligations - indeed, there have been number of removals since 13 August and well over 250 people returned involuntarily to Sri Lanka.”

Arrangements for irregular maritime arrivals who are already in the community on bridging visas, and for those who arrived before 13 August, remain unchanged.

Media Contact: Bill Kyriakopoulos 0400 510 802 / Laura Stevens 0432 833 769