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.
M. Grattan‘PM’s Pacific Solution Mark II’The Age14 August 2012 <www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/pms-pacific-solution-mark-ii-20120813-24508.html> visited on 27 November 2012. The analogy with past practices on Nauru and Manus Island is not entirely apposite (see below).
K. Needham and D. Flitton‘Refugee Deal with Malaysia Clinched’Sydney Morning Herald22 July 2011 p. 1 <www.smh.com.au/national/refugee-deal-with-malaysia-clinched-20110721-1hqzx.html> visited 28 November 2012.
A. Kirk‘UNHCR tells Government it won’t be involved in Pacific Solution Mark 2’ABC News – The World Today24 August 2012 <www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3575073.htm> visited on 27 November 2012.
In April2010the processing of protection visa applications from Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers was suspended for three and six months respectively: C. Evans Changes to Australia’s immigration processing system 9 April 2010 (Media Release) <www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2010/ce10029.htm> visited on 28 November 2012. The suspension was lifted for both countries on 6 July and 30 September 2010 respectively.
R. Carr‘Broadening the Scope of Historical Enquiry into Australian Refugee Policy’Australian Policy and History(2010) p. 5 <http://aph.org.au/broadening-the-scope> visited on 28 November 2012.