Irregular Maritime Migration and the Pacific Solution Mark II: Back to the Future for Refugee Law and Policy in Australia?

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
Peter Billings Senior Lecturer in Law, TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, Australia

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Following a rise in the number of irregular maritime arrivals seeking refugee protection in Australia, and two successful legal challenges to their refugee processing policies, the Labor Government has resuscitated notorious aspects of the ‘Pacific Solution’ as part of a ‘no advantage’ policy. This strategy seeks to deter ‘irregular’ asylum seekers by treating them no more favourably than refugees seeking protection from overseas awaiting entry to Australia through regular refugee/humanitarian channels. In furtherance of this ‘no advantage’ policy, extra-territorial processing on Nauru and Papua New Guinea has been re-introduced and ‘excision’ provisions are to be extended to mainland Australia placing the continent outside of its ‘migration zone’ and, therefore, asylum seekers beyond the regular laws and processes for protection seekers. This article analyses the seismic shifts in asylum seeker policy that have occurred in Australia over the recent past and the politics underpinning them.

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