Asylum-seeker lifetime bans only for offshore detainees, Bishop says

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Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the government’s proposed “lifetime ban” on asylum-seekers ever entering Australia will only apply to those whose claims are being processed offshore, and not to anyone whose claim was processed in Australia under the previous Labor government. Q&A host Tony Jones attempted to claim a “gotcha moment” while interviewing Bishop’s cabinet colleague Sussan Ley on the ABC show last night, when he contradicted her assertion that no one in Australia on a bridging visa would be affected by the ban. Jones said that Q&A had put questions to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Monday, and that his office had confirmed a “relatively small number” of people currently in Australia could be affected.
Bishop this morning said her understanding was that the legislation applied to those in offshore processing centres, including those who may have sought, for example, medical treatment in Australia at some time, but are part of the cohort whose claim for asylum is being processed in a regional processing centre.
“My understanding is also that claims for asylum that have been processed in Australia, as was done under Labor are not affected, so the TPV or Temporary Protection Visa will continue to operate,” Bishop said.
“That’s my understanding, that this applies to those in offshore processing centres, the cohort whose claims for asylum are being processed in a regional offshore processing centre but those who have already had their claim processed in Australia under the previous Labor government are not affected.”
Bishop said the legislation was aimed at preventing a repeat of the “chaos” experienced under Labor when 50,000 people came on 800 boats and 8000 children went through detention, including 2000 who were still there when the Coalition won government. The Foreign Minister said Australia was working with around 50 countries as part of the Bali process in exploring third-country resettlement options for those currently on Manus Island and Nauru.
“If they are found to be refugees they can resettle in Papua New Guinea if they are on Manus,” Ms Bishop said.
“If they are on Nauru they can be resettled in Nauru or in Cambodia.
“Those who are not found to be owed protection, who are not refugees, should depart for home, and there are others who seek to resettle in one of a number of countries who we are currently negotiating with.”
She dismissed claims from Labor and the Greens that the government’s policy was designed to appeal to One Nation supporters.
“Not at all. This is the last piece of the work that we’ve had to do to clean up the chaos after Labor’s failed border protection policies which I suggest would be one of the worst policy failures in living memory,” Ms Bishop said.
Bishop also said there was no reason for China to be concerned about Australia’s plans to carry out joint patrols with Indonesia in the South China Sea, where China’s claims of sovereignty are disputed.
“We’ve agreed to explore options to increase maritime co-operation and of course that would include co-ordinated activities in the South China Sea and this is all consistent with our policy of exercising our right to freedom of navigation and that’s in accordance with international law and our support for peace and stability and security in the region,” she said, adding that the matter had been discussed extensively when she and Defence Minister met their counterparts in Indonesia last week.
“We would of course notify others in the region but we carry out joint exercises with the United States, with India, we’ve carried out joint exercises with China, so this is a regular part of what our navy does.” Source: www.pidcsec.org

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