Asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by boat will never be allowed to enter the country under new laws, even if they are genuine refugees and seek to come as tourists decades later.
Legislation to be introduced by Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will apply a lifetime ban to all adults detained at the Manus Island or Nauru detention centres from July 19, 2013 – including those who have chosen to return home. Children who were brought by their parents or unaccompanied would be exempt.
The government has long maintained that asylum seekers who come by boat would never be settled in Australia but the introduction of a lifetime ban on all visas, including for tourism, is tougher than expected.
Immediately seeking to pressure the opposition into supporting the policy, the government will seek to backdate the laws to July 19, 2013 when former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd declared that anyone seeking to come to Australia without a visa would never settle here.
It’s very hard line but beyond doubt will be effective. From 2009 to 2013 around 50,000 people tried to reach Australia by boat and 1,194 of them drowned.
In 2015 and 2016 there has been basically no boats and no drownings. And the populations in the Manus and Nauru detention centres has dropped from 2,500 in 2013 to around 1,300 today.