The issue of managing irregular migration and processing asylum seekers policy is among the most difficult, complex and challenging areas of Government policy. For its part, the Commonwealth Government is motivated by a strong desire to see an end to asylum seekers boarding boats and making the dangerous journey from Sri Lanka and Indonesia to Australia. We have seen too often in recent times the sometimes fatal consequences for men, women and children of this voyage.
The Labor Government is committed to doing everything it can to stem the flow of boats and save lives. We strongly support what the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers recommends – a two-pronged approach which deprives people smugglers of a product to sell and provides incentives for asylum seekers to use regular migration pathways.
For too long now people smugglers have peddled lies and false promises that have led to too many tragic deaths. We want people to stop taking the dangerous journey by boat and to break the business model of the people smugglers. That’s why we’ve asked the experts for advice and we’re implementing their recommendations.
In response to recommendations, the Government introduced the no-advantage principle which ensures those arriving by boat are not granted a protection visa before those seeking protection through regular pathways.
We coupled this with a 40 per cent increase of our humanitarian intake to 20,000 places a year for refugees the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified as priorities.
This is the biggest increase in 30 years and will see Australia take more refugees from large camps around the world, including in Africa, Middle East and South-East Asia.
Australia ranks among the top resettlement countries in the world and this boost makes us the largest UNHCR resettlement country per capita.
To further deter asylum seekers from boarding dangerous boats, we reinstated regional processing on Nauru and Manus Island, because our chief weapon is denying people smugglers a product to peddle.
The message to people smugglers is very clear: the Government will continue to return people to Sri Lanka; we will continue to transfer people to Nauru, and now to Manus Island as well. There is no advantage coming to Australia by boat.