71 asy­lum seek­ers miss de­por­ta­tion dead­line

The Australian - - THE NATION - RACHEL BAXENDALE

Seventy-one out of 7500 asy­lum­seek­ers who ar­rived in Aus­tralia il­le­gally by boat have failed to lodge an ap­pli­ca­tion for pro­tec­tion be­fore the Oc­to­ber 1 dead­line, Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton has re­vealed.

Mr Dut­ton dubbed some of the 7500 “fake refugees” in May, and threat­ened them with hav­ing their wel­fare pay­ments cut off if they did not com­ply.

At the time, refugee ad­vo­cates blamed long queues for le­gal as­sis­tance with dif­fi­cult pa­per­work for the de­lay in lodg­ing claims.

Mr Dut­ton said the Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment had been given ex­tra re­sources to process the more than 7400 ap­pli­ca­tions.

“You’ll re­mem­ber in May we put in place a dead­line be­cause out of 50,000 peo­ple who came on the 800 boats, there were still 7500 peo­ple who re­fused to pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion, re­fused to pro­vide information about their pro­tec­tion claim,” Mr Dut­ton told Mac­quarie Ra­dio.

“They’re on wel­fare ben­e­fits, which is cost­ing tax­pay­ers a quar­ter of a bil­lion dol­lars a year, and they were re­fus­ing to pro­vide any information, and I said enough’s enough, you pro­vide the in­for- ma­tion by the 1st of Oc­to­ber or ben­e­fits are cut off.

“We’ve got that num­ber down re­mark­ably to 71. La­bor said it couldn’t be done. All the civil lib­er­tar­i­ans went crazy we were forc­ing peo­ple to pro­vide information and this means that we can get their ap­pli­ca­tions pro­cessed. If they’re found not to be refugees then we can start de­por­ta­tion of peo­ple as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Mr Dut­ton said the 71 who had not lodged ap­pli­ca­tions would au­to­mat­i­cally be cut off from re­ceiv­ing gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits.

“For the peo­ple that have lodged their pa­pers, I’ve in­struct- ed the depart­ment to put ex­tra re­sources into pro­cess­ing those claims,” he said. “We’ll process those claims and once we’ve done that we meet our in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions where peo­ple have been found not to be refugees after their lodge­ment has been as­sessed we can start de­port­ing peo­ple from Aus­tralia.”

Refugee ad­vo­cate Ian Rin­toul said the fact that such a large per­cent­age of the asy­lum seek­ers had met the “ar­bi­trary” dead­line was tes­ta­ment to sup­port within the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly from vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity le­gal cen­tres who had pro­vided free le­gal ad­vice.

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