Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Media release

Resolving Labor’s illegal maritime arrival mess

The Coalition Government can finally begin to clean up Labor’s illegal maritime arrival (IMA) mess after successfully passing the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2015 through the Senate today. 

More than 50,000 IMAs poured into Australia aboard more than 800 boats over the six years of the Labor Government when the Rudd and Gillard Governments handed control of our borders to the people smugglers.

Labor left a shameful secret - 30,000 of those 50,000 IMAs whose claims to asylum had not been determined.

Incredibly the assessment of asylum claims for 25,500 of them had not even started.

The passage of the Bill will ensure that all asylum seekers will now face a robust process to determine their protection status. 

It will establish in law that illegal maritime arrivals who do not fully co-operate with the Government to establish their identity are not given the benefit of a protection visa.

Those who provide bogus documents as evidence of their identity will likewise be denied a protection visa.

“This has been a key objective of this Coalition Government,” the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said today.

Mr Dutton said the successful passage of the Bill along with the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014 which was passed in December would enable the Coalition Government to implement long overdue reform of the processes for assessing asylum claims.  

“This package of legislative reforms will allow the Government to begin a new fast track assessment of asylum claims of the legacy caseload of IMAs who arrived under Labor. 

“One of this government’s core commitments was that we would resolve the legacy caseload that Labor failed to process and just left behind.” 

The reforms also implement key integrity measures within the Migration Review Tribunal and the Refugee Review Tribunal which strengthen their administrative efficiency, improve processing and support the integrity of the review process.

Mr Dutton said it is unfortunate that Labor failed to support measures on complementary protection (Schedule 2 of the Bill) which would have better directed Australia’s protection obligations towards those who need it most.

“These were measures which Labor had been using, but now refuse to support preferring instead court judgments which watered down the assessment threshold,” Mr Dutton said. 

“The outcome means people who have been found to not be refugees will find it easier to gain complementary protection and be allowed to remain in Australia.

“However this legislation delivers on the election commitments that this Government made to uphold the importance of integrity, the establishment of identity, and increased efficiency in Australia’s protection processing system.”