Parliament excises mainland from migration zone


May 16, 2013 14:53:46

The entire Australian mainland has been excised from the migration zone after a new bill passed Parliament today.

The change strips away any legal advantage asylum seekers get from reaching the mainland compared with those who first arrive at Christmas Island or other offshore territories.

All asylum seekers who reach the mainland by boat can now be sent to offshore immigration processing centres on Nauru or Papua New Guinea.

The idea was one of 25 recommendations put forward by the expert panel on asylum seekers last year, and was introduced to Parliament by the Government last year.

The Government, which is dealing with an increasing number of boats arrivals, says it is a deterrence measure.

But the Greens and refugee groups say it strips asylum seekers of legal rights.

Greens amendments to allow for Human Rights Commission inspections, media access, and the removal of children from the Manus Island centre, all failed to pass.

It is an about face for the Labor Party, which rejected a similar plan put forward by the Howard government in 2006.

At the time, Labor MP Chris Bowen described the proposal to excise the mainland as “a stain on our national character”.

But after introducing the bill last October, Mr Bowen, who was then the immigration minister, said he had changed his position.

“I’ve changed the Labor Party’s position and I changed my mind, based on the evidence, based on the recommendations of the Houston panel, and based on the evidence that this will save lives,” Mr Bowen said at the time.


First posted

May 16, 2013 13:22:26

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