71 asylum seekers miss deportation deadline
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.