PM accused of ‘lying’ about asylum seeker policy

Font Size:

A battle has erupted over ‘boat people’ after a divisive new law passed this week in Parliament, allowing 300 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru to be shipped to Australia as medical transfers.

Asylum seekers who need medical treatment will be sent to Christmas Island under the new plan.

Since the bill passed, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has gone on the attack, claiming the new law risks the resumption of boat arrivals.

“My job now is to ensure that the boats don’t come,” he said. “If they don’t come, it will be because of the work and the decisions we are now taking and the actions we are putting in place.”

The new law only applies to 1000 people currently on Manus Island and Nauru, but Mr Morrison claims that people smugglers did not care about the “nuance” of the law.

“If they do come, you can thank the Labor Party and Bill Shorten because he is the one who has led this process. He has led this process to weaken and compromise our borders,” he said.

Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for National Security, Mark Dreyfus, says the Prime Minister is “endorsing lies”. Labor’s Brendan O’Connor also said the PM had chosen to “misrepresent the truth” and “lie to the Australian people” in an attempt to gain political advantage, effectively turning a humanitarian issue into a guaranteed election fight over asylum seeker policy.

“Most remarkably and outrageously, we’ve seen him announce the opening of Christmas Island. Well if this wasn’t the biggest advertisement to people smugglers, I don’t know what is,” said Mr O’Connor.

“To open up a taxpayer-funded motel in Christmas Island to basically advertise to people smugglers in the region that indeed business is back – that is a desperate act.”

Tony Abbott claims these new rules mean people could “get on a boat, get to Nauru, get sick and get to Australia”, despite the new law not applying to new boat arrivals.

The new law, which Bill Shorten says is a humanitarian change that made no significant alteration to offshore processing of boat arrivals, states that those who are transferred must already be in detention.

The Department of Home Affairs said that 300 cases of people on Manus Island and Nauru are likely to be recommended for medical transfer.

However, Independent MP Kerryn Phelps and Greens leader Richard Di Natale believe that hundreds more could qualify for transfer and treatment.

The government has not declared how many transferees will be integrated into the community after treatment and how many will need to be held in detention centres.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, most refugees who arrived by boat have gone into the community in the past. As of December, 380 boat people were in detention and 15,674 in the community.

Former Australian Federal Police officer John Coyne said that the new law was well-constructed but it could encourage some to risk a boat journey.

“The narrative of the past six years has been one of crushing any hope,” he said. “You can’t underplay the impact that a spark of hope will have when people are desperate.”

What do you think of the new law? Do you agree with the reopening of the Christmas Island detention centre?


Asylum seekers are now ‘illegal’

Australian immigration staff have received instructions to refer to asylum seekers as ‘illegal'

Asylum seeker rights

The UNHCR is "deeply concerned" with living conditions on Nauru and Manus Islands.

Government reduces migrant intake by stealth

Peter Dutton has managed to cap migrant intake, by stealth.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading

Finance News

How much you can save on electricity in your home state

As we prepare to head into the colder winter months, there is good news for those worried about heating costs...


What is thrombocytopenia, and why did it stop the AstraZeneca jab?

Anthony Zulli, Victoria University; Maja Husaric, Victoria University; Maximilian de Courten, Victoria University, and Vasso Apostolopoulos, Victoria University Australia's medical...


Ways to manage death anxiety

Winston Churchill once said: "Any man who says he is not afraid of death is a liar." But while it's...

Food and Recipes

Rick Stein's Autumn Vegie Soup

"One of the rather pathetic realities of the fact that so many of the restaurants in France are disappointing these...


Australians give big thumbs down to the public service

Only 27 per cent of Australians believe the public service acts in the public interest and only 22 per cent...

Brain health

Normal tension glaucoma linked to cognitive impairment

Australian researchers say they have established a link between the eye condition glaucoma and cognitive impairment, the state that often...


Old wives' tales put to the test

Alice Shaw-Beckett, from cleaning company Cleanipedia, dissects 13 old wives' tales related to cleaning and pest control to discover whether...

Travel & Motoring

Consider this when deciding on a roadside assist deal

A reader raised an interesting point that I hadn’t considered before. When she bought her new car, it included -...