Nauru Designated For Regional Processing

Nauru has been officially designated a regional processing country under the Migration Act.

The formal action to put in place the government’s about-turn on processing of asylum seekers took place today with the tabling of the legislative instrument in the House of Representatives by the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

The Opposition maintained its position that Howard-era outcomes can only be achieved by the introduction of the full suite of Howard policies, including temporary protection visas and turning back the boats. Shadow minister Scott Morrison moved an amendment along these lines.

Statement released by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

Nauru designated for regional processing

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, has this morning signed the legislative instrument designating the Republic of Nauru as a regional processing country under the Migration Act.

‘I will today table the designation documents in Parliament. Subject to both houses passing a resolution approving the designation, the designation will allow for the transfer of irregular maritime arrivals who arrived after 13 August to Nauru,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘These documents outline the terms of agreement with the Nauruan Government and the fact I have now designated Nauru as a regional processing country.’

The Minister has determined that it is in the national interest to begin transferring people to Nauru as set out in the Statement of Reasons, including:

  • Nauru has given Australia the assurances around the principle of non-refoulement and the assessment of asylum claims in line with the Refugee Convention
  • Designating Nauru as a regional processing country will discourage irregular and dangerous maritime voyages and thereby reduce the risk of the loss of life at sea
  • The designation promotes the maintenance of a fair and orderly Refugee and Humanitarian Program that retains the confidence of the Australian people
  • Designating Nauru as a regional processing country promotes regional cooperation on irregular migration and people smuggling and its undesirable consequences; and
  • Arrangements already in place in Nauru and those that are proposed to be put in place in Nauru are satisfactory.

The Memorandum of Understanding with the Nauruan Government was signed on 29 August. Construction work on the temporary facility is nearing completion and the government expects to be able to begin transferring people to Nauru later this week.

Mr Bowen said the government was committed to implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers.

‘The designation I have tabled today is the next step in implementing the Expert Panel’s recommendations,’ he said.

Further announcements about processing arrangements in Nauru will be made in due course.

Deadlock Over Asylum Seekers Remains Following Talks

No agreement was reached on the asylum seeker deadlock, following talks today between Labor and Liberal representatives.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd met with the Opposition’s shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison and shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Both sides claimed the discussions were cordial and constructive. Further talks will take place in the coming weeks.

  • Scott Morrison comments before meeting with government ministers (3m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Chris Bowen comments following talks with Opposition members (2m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Scott Morrison comments following talks with government ministers (2m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Tony Abbott comments on asylum seeker policy in Melbourne (13m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Bowen Calls On Abbott To Work With Government On Refugees

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, has attacked Tony Abbott for refusing to work with the government to resolve the refugee issue in the light of this week’s drownings off Indonesia.

Bowen said he believed “the Australian people have had a gutful of the politicking”. He said: “Now we have the frankly bizarre situation that Labor and Liberal, Government and Opposition, agree that we need offshore processing. And yet we have a political impasse. Legislation to authorise offshore processing would fail in the Senate because the Liberal Party would not support it.”

Bowen released an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Opposition Leader. In one of them, Abbott says: “I don’t see much point in further private discussions between Mr Morrison and Mr Bowen.”

  • Read the Gillard-Abbott letters (PDF)
  • Listen to Chris Bowen’s press conference – transcript below:

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Scott Morrison’s media conference – transcript below:

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Wayne Swan comment on Abbott’s reaction

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Greens leader Bob Brown comment

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Transcript of Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s press conference.

Bowen: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Well, Australians have witnessed another tragedy at sea. We’ve watched as men, women, children and babies have lost their life making the dangerous journey to Australia. The Government’s policy has been driven by the aim and the hope of avoiding these sorts of tragedies. We have been driven to pursue offshore processing to ensure that people don’t risk their life at sea.

And now we have the frankly bizarre situation that Labor and Liberal, Government and Opposition, agree that we need offshore processing. And yet we have a political impasse. Legislation to authorise offshore processing would fail in the Senate because the Liberal Party would not support it. [Read more…]

Scott Morrison Promises To Protect The “Borders Of Our Values”

Scott Morrison, the Opposition spokesman on Immigration, has delivered a major speech in which he argues that Australia “must protect the borders of our values”.

Speaking to the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia conference, Morrison said: “In our nation, we must never compromise our values, by agreeing with those who suggest that even their definition is an instrument of exclusion. We must protect the borders of our values.”

“In our nation we celebrate the values that have defined us as a nation and lived and added to by each new generation and each new wave of arrivals, making their own contribution.

“In our nation we must uphold freedom of religion, speech and thought, while ensuring our laws are never altered to provide special concessions for any one group by virtue of their religion, race, ethnicity, language or birthplace.

“In our nation we must ensure that English remains our one and only language and encourage its adoption in all corners of our community, by all ages, ethnicities and nationalities.”

Transcript of Scott Morrison’s Address to the 2011 Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia conference.

“Our Nation”

A liberal perspective on immigration and social cohesion in modern Australia [Read more…]