Any asylum seeker who arrives by boat without a visa will have no chance of being resettled in Australia as a refugee, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced.
The Sydney Morning Herald said that Mr Rudd declared his much-anticipated asylum seeker policy, with the major change being a new resettlement arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
At a Brisbane press conference, flanked by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and Immigration Minister Tony Burke, Mr Rudd declared he would "combat the scourge of people smuggling".
''Today we're announcing a new resettlement arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea. I understand this is a very hard-line decision,'' Mr Rudd said.
In the strongest line a modern Labor prime minister has taken against people smugglers, Mr Rudd said: ''As of today asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.''
Under the new arrangement signed with PNG – the Regional Settlement Arrangement - unauthorised arrivals will be sent to PNG for assessment and if found to be a refugee will be settled there.
''Australians have had enough of seeing people drowning in the waters to our north,'' Mr Rudd said.
''Our country has had enough of people smugglers exploiting asylum seekers and seeing them drown on the high seas.'
With the changes, regional processing arrangements in PNG will be significantly expanded and people will be sent to Manus Island as soon as health checks are complete and appropriate accommodation is identified.
PNG officials will assess their claims on Manus Island.
Mr Rudd said there would be no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to PNG.
In exchange for PNG receiving asylum seekers, the Australian government woul help with the redevelopment of the major referral hospital in Lei and its long-term management needs.
''We've agreed to fund 50/50 the reform of Papua New Guinea university sector,'' Mr Rudd said.
As well as implementing the resettlement program, Mr Rudd said the Australian Government stood ready to consider progressively increasing our humanitarian intake towards 27,000 as recommended by the Houston Panel.
Mr Rudd did not say how much his changes to asylum seeker policy would cost. But he said it would be ''budget neutral'' and that Finance Minister Penny Wong would announce the costs in ''due course''.
''What we're seeking to do . . . is to send a message to people smugglers around the world that the business model is basically undermined,'' Mr Rudd said.
''This is a clear change in strategic direction.''
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus reiterated the Prime Minister's assurance that the arrangement was ''entirely in accordance with Australia's international and domestic law obligations''.
''Papua New Guinea is, of course, a signatory to the refugees convention,'' Mr Dreyfus said.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke said in the past couple of weeks he had removed children and families from Manus Island because ''the facilities as they are right now are not appropriate for some of those different groups''.
The government's immediate priority was to bring the quality of Manus Island's detention facilities ''up to standard''.
Mr Burke said that at the moment the government would not be transferring women and children immediately across to Manus Island.
''The intention is that as the temporary facility moves to a permanent facility, anybody who arrives from now on will be subject to the new rules.''
Comments - 30
sanjeewa d Friday, 19 July 2013 11:51 AM
finally!!! They should have done this 15 years ago....
AL-AMBRILLA Saturday, 20 July 2013 10:43 AM
Did you miss the boat....?
kamal gunaratna Friday, 19 July 2013 12:15 PM
wow wonderfull job.now you change yourname as ""rude"".he is without shame telling people who risk their lives on sea to freedom from death,rape,terror at home are not acceptable.come with visa,are you giving these people visa???.hey australian inhumans,give your own people aborigins,asians,human tratments.looters of australian whits,give back the looted country to its original owners,aborigins.
FLATWHITE Friday, 19 July 2013 12:28 PM
45,000 thousand refugees in australia costing tax payers 2.5 million a year its a crime any way all govt's are to be blamed.Out of 45,000 refugess probably 50% must be false Sri lankan tamil refugees who lived in the south and in east.
Ceylonese Friday, 19 July 2013 12:40 PM
The bulk of refugees who come by boat to Australia are mainly from Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. They should be prepared to settle down in Papua New Guinea in future. Their chances of settling down in Australia are very remote.
Fawzan Friday, 19 July 2013 12:43 PM
Instead of boat Aussi can fly aircraft for refugees. People risk their life by traveling by boat simply because they have no other choice.
HK Friday, 19 July 2013 08:11 AM
Mark Friday, 19 July 2013 08:18 AM
Perfect! Good Job! in that way People won't put their lives in danger!
dickie bird Friday, 19 July 2013 01:02 PM
Closing the stable doors after the horses have encrocahed.
Rudd get ready for a diaspora onslaught...............
MagodisThuma Friday, 19 July 2013 01:09 PM
Finally Australia found a garbage dump yard !
Jaya Friday, 19 July 2013 01:11 PM
Its called sour grapes
SL Patriot Saturday, 20 July 2013 07:41 AM
Yes.He might be removed by LTTE diaspora
clueless Friday, 19 July 2013 01:41 PM
2.5 million per year? thats only 55(assume $) per refugee.
Abdul Friday, 19 July 2013 01:41 PM
thats why they are ready to spend housands of dollars for human smugglers to smuggle them in to australia
sanath Friday, 19 July 2013 08:41 AM
that's the way .you are u are!
Abdul Friday, 19 July 2013 01:43 PM
dont get pissed bro. let them spend their tax money own their own people rather than wasting it on economic migrants.
mataraman Friday, 19 July 2013 09:26 AM
In futre Papuwanewginya will be a very rich country help of the refugees.
Gemba Monday, 22 July 2013 06:42 AM
#Fawzan: What makes you think that Aircrafts would be given landing rights in Australia?
Daniel Koh Tuesday, 23 July 2013 05:10 AM
This policy and the selection of Jason Li as a candidate have convinced me to change my vote from Liberal to Labour. However, I wish Kevin would revert to his original stand on the institution of marriage.
OMG Friday, 19 July 2013 10:07 AM
This is hypocrisy.
Australia calls for freedom and democracy, but decides to drown the very people who are going after its freedom and democracy.
Dammika Saturday, 20 July 2013 03:27 PM
I think this is a very good decision. Why?: - Hope it will help to save lives - Will help Australia to stop collecting left overs of LTTE and later have trouble - Importantly GENUINE People who struggles will get a better chance in the future
AL-AMBRILLA Friday, 19 July 2013 10:13 AM
You bet... refugees too will get rich by picking coconuts...
Lal.Fernando. Monday, 22 July 2013 03:11 AM
I take my hat off to Mr.Rudd. These economic refugees are a menace.They are nothing but que jumpers.Mr. Rudd I hope you keep up with your word.Now please go after the ruthless agents who take the money from these innocent people and get them on the boats.
MB Friday, 19 July 2013 10:41 AM
Perfect! Good Decision!
nillu Friday, 19 July 2013 10:41 AM
Hats off for the decision made thats the way to go
nick Friday, 19 July 2013 10:45 AM
Well done Mr Rudd
manpei Monday, 22 July 2013 03:44 AM
Lol you peolple are living in your own little bubbles. Srilankan immigrants only make up about 5% of all immigrants to Aussie. Do you think the iaspora has such a big influence??
Indi Saturday, 20 July 2013 09:09 AM
Good news at last,hats off to you Australiian Prime Minister.
cluless Friday, 19 July 2013 11:35 AM
Better take the boat to Mannar than Manus island
Suq Madique Friday, 19 July 2013 11:39 AM
Good decision. But now at least make it less difficult those planning to migrate legally.
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