FOLLOWING THE Government’s embarrassing withdrawal of the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006, the Greens party is seeking to amend the law on offshore refugee processing.
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle intends to move an amendment to the Migration Act to end offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island.
“The recent rejection of the harsh changes to the Migration Act was a clear signal that sending refugees to Nauru was no longer acceptable to either the Australian public or parliament,” Nettle said.
The amendment, to be moved to the Migration Amendment (Visa Integrity) Bill 2006 when it comes before the Senate, has emerged at a time when only one of the refugees onboard the MV Tampa remains on Nauru. Of the 438 refugees originally sent to the Pacific Island by Australia, Mohammed Sagar is the sole remaining individual. It has also been suggested that the Australian Government has not paid Sagar’s visa fee, estimated at between $75,000 and $100,000 a month.
“We should shut down Nauru which would mean [Sagar] would be taken to an Australian detention centre where a detailed security assessment would be possible,” Labor immigration spokesman Tony Burke told ABC Radio.
Nettle said that she welcomed Burke’s proposal to shut down Nauru, and hoped “that this sentiment translates into Labor support for this amendment in the Senate”.
“I hope the parliamentarians who rejected the recent bill will be consistent in their principles and now support this amendment,” she said.
“The amendment fixes the anomaly where an asylum seeker who lands on an island a kilometre offshore is sent to Nauru, whereas those who make it to the mainland are processed in Australia. All asylum seekers should be processed in Australia.”