12th April 2013
The government has faced an onslaught from critics over many topics in recent weeks and now the row has turned to the matter of immigration.
Much of the criticism has come over the delay of a new law which would close a loophole from stopping asylum seekers from being processed on the mainland.
At the moment, asylum seekers are allowed to stay in Australia if they lodge their case from anywhere on the mainland.
This means that they are not allowed to be detained in offshore detention centres on Nauru or Papua New Guinea like many others who are caught trying to land on the shores of small offshore areas such as Christmas Island.
However, the new laws would mean that mainland Australia would then be declared as out of the migration zone meaning that anyone entering illegally would be held in a detention centre until their case is heard.
So far, the rule applies to all the offshore islands that come under Australia’s governance such as Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Ashmore Island and the Cartier Islands.
The initial outrage was sparked on Tuesday when a boat of asylum seekers managed to avoid detection and land at Geraldton in Western Australia.
It’s reported that all the 66 occupants of the boat all originate from Sri Lanka and their landing has worried many about the security around Australia’s coastline.
Whilst things had rolled on slowly over the past month or two, the government have been quick to react to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
This was reflected in comments made by Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare who has now listed the bill as a matter of urgency. In an interview with Sky News, he said that “as soon as the parliament returns, we need that legislation passed through so we can remove any incentive that might exist in this area for boats to aim at the mainland.”
So far, the move has been supported by both parties in the coalition meaning that it just needs to be debated with the opposition before it can be physically passed through and become law.
With only a few months remaining until September’s election, it’s likely that the immigrations issues will continue to be debated and become a major battleground in which direction Australia will head in for the next few years.
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