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Labor says Liberals are rehashing old boat policy in Australia

posted 8 Jun 2012, 22:37 by Meriposa World   [ updated 8 Jun 2012, 22:37 ]

Australia 

The federal government says the opposition is rehashing old policy by announcing it would reject the refugee applications of people who arrived by boat if it's thought they had deliberately destroyed their documents.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on Saturday also argued the coalition's plan to review favourable determinations and set up a new integrity commissioner to audit all refugee decisions would add another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy to the system.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says under a coalition government there would be a "strong presumption that illegal boat people who have destroyed their documents not be given refugee status".

The Liberal leader on Saturday said his immigration minister would "exercise the right" to appeal against affirmative decisions, while the integrity commissioner would conduct an audit every six months comparing refugee acceptance rates in Australia with other countries.

But Mr Bowen was quick to point out that opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison stated in late 2011 that it was coalition policy to presume against refugee status "where we reasonably form the view that someone has thrown away their documentation".

Indeed, Mr Morrison made the same point in April 2010, four months before the last federal election.

"They (the opposition) should stop passing off old policies as new ones," Mr Bowen said in a statement.

"Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison should quit the cheap political stunts and join with the government to pass legislation enabling offshore processing."

Labor wants to process asylum seekers arriving by boat in Malaysia but needs the opposition's help to make the plan lawful.

The coalition is refusing to pass the required legislation because it says potential refugees should be assessed on Nauru. It argues legal changes aren't required for that approach.

Mr Bowen on Saturday said the opposition's plans for more reviews would introduce another layer of bureaucracy "which would almost certainly be judicially reviewable, meaning more asylum claims will be tied up in the courts".

The immigration minister said Australia already had a robust process for assessing asylum seeker claims under the UN refugee convention with each claim judged on a case-by-case basis.

AAP, June 9, 2012

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