No more 'boat people' in Aussie; Kevin Rudd

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.''

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