Thursday, 05 October 2023
Media release

Restoring integrity to our protection system

​Joint media release with the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP and the Hon Clare O'Neil MP

The Albanese Labor Government has today announced a $160 million package of reforms to restore integrity to Australia’s refugee protection system, providing a fair go to genuine asylum seekers and helping to break the business model of people who seek to exploit the system. 

During almost a decade of neglect, under-investment and mismanagement by the former government, backlogs were allowed to grow exponentially across the entire migration system and delays in processing and reviewing onshore Protection visa applications, in particular, blew out. 

The Nixon Report found that these delays were ‘motivating bad actors to take advantage by lodging increasing numbers of non-genuine applications for protection’. This has come at a cost to people in genuine need of protection and to the broader Australian community.

This is Peter Dutton’s legacy. While Mr Dutton was focused on marketing himself as a tough decision-maker on borders, his six years in charge of the immigration system has proved that he is weak, incompetent or both– overseeing record numbers of onshore Protection visa applications and a system that was not equipped to deal with them. 

Australians are rightly proud of our country’s generous refugee program which assists those who are fleeing persecution and need Australia’s protection. The Albanese Government will not stand back and allow people traffickers and other bad actors to exploit vulnerable migrants and undermine the integrity of that program. 

The Government's holistic approach announced today will provide support to vulnerable visa applicants and begin the process of tackling the incentives for bad actors to exploit the system. 

An investment of $54 million will be used to establish real-time priority processing of Protection visa applications to help break the business model of those who abuse the system and ensure a faster, fairer and more efficient protection system for those genuinely in need of Australia’s protection. 

An investment of over $58 million in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia will increase the capacity of those bodies to deal with significant Protection visa and other migration-related caseloads. This investment will provide for: 

  • An additional 10 Members for the AAT. This is in addition to the 93 additional Members that the Government has announced recently. All of these additional AAT Members will transition to the new Administrative Review Tribunal when it is established.
  • An additional 10 Federal Circuit and Family Court judges.

Further, the Government has committed over $48 million to boost essential legal assistance services to support applicants through the application process. 

Our protection system and the backlogs will take time to fix. But as a result of these investments, those in need of Australia’s protection will be provided certainty about their future sooner, allowing them to focus on building their lives in Australia, and those who are seeking to exploit the system and are applying simply to extend their stay in Australia will be swiftly refused. 

The Government is committed to ensuring applications are assessed lawfully, fairly and reasonably, in line with our international obligations while continuing to secure our borders, combatting people smuggling and preventing the exploitation of vulnerable migrants. 


“The Nixon Review has unearthed a rampant lack of integrity in our migration system which went unchecked in the six years Peter Dutton was in charge of immigration. 

“After years of Liberals turning a blind eye to exploitation of the visa system, the Albanese Labor Government is taking action to fix the mess we inherited, and reform the migration system to help prevent future exploitation. 

“Crucially, these reforms will ensure that those found to be owed Australia’s protection will have access to quicker and fairer assessment of their claims, allowing them to rebuild their lives with certainty and stability.”