Australia moved on Sunday to bar any refugee or asylum-seeker who arrives in the country illegally by boat from ever being able to apply for a visa, even as tourists or for business. The lifetime ban will be put to parliament when it next sits, with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull saying it was necessary to send an “absolutely, unflinching, unequivocal message” that boatpeople will never be allowed in Australia. “This is a battle of will between the Australian people, represented by its government, and the criminal gangs of people-smugglers,” he said.
You should not underestimate the scale of the threat. These people-smugglers are the worst criminals imaginable. They have a multibillion-dollar business. We have to be very determined to say no to their criminal plans
Canberra currently sends all boatpeople to offshore processing camps on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus. They are already blocked from being resettled in Australia even if found to be genuine refugees. They can either return home, make a life on Manus or Nauru, or go to a third country. The new legislation would affect those sent to Nauru and Manus from July 19, 2013, including those who have returned home, and anyone who arrives in the future. But children will be exempt and the immigration minister would have the power to make exceptions.
We have grave concerns that this kind of announcement will push people over the edge. The government must act urgently to give hope to these people, not continue to take it away
Mat Tinkler, Save the Children