Asylum seekers who are believed to have destroyed their documents before arriving in Australia will have a presumption against refugee status under a coalition government, Tony Abbott says.
As part of three policy "enhancements", which the opposition leader said would immediately be put in place under a coalition government, Mr Abbott said there would be a “strong presumption that illegal boat people who have destroyed their documents not be given refugee status”.
Mr Abbott said the government would also ensure that his Immigration Minister “exercise the right” to appeal against affirmative decisions.
“This right has never been exercised under this government,” he told reporters on Saturday.
This would ensure that “yeses are checked, not just noes“, opposition spokesman for immigration Scott Morrison said.
“Under our current system noes are checked under an appeal process by applicants but yeses never get checked.”
Under the third proposal put forward by Mr Abbott, an integrity commissioner would report to the minister every six months on what is happening to the processing success rates.
“What is happening now is that 90 per cent of people who arrive illegally via boat are given successful outcomes.”
Mr Abbott said other countries had “heavier rates of rejection“ and he wanted to know why this was the case.
But Refugee Action Coalition Sydney spokesman Ian Rintoul said the comments were misleading.
“The issue of documentation is not as straight forward as the opposition is making out,” he said.
Mr Rintoul said many asylum seekers travelled by fake passports to Indonesia, which they destroyed on arrival in order to prevent any possible criminal proceedings.
Others destroyed valid passports in order to avoid being deported by the Indonesian government, he said.
“They may not have passports but they have other documentation, such as driver’s licenses.
“People want to be identified because they can’t be processed in Australia unless they are identified.”
“It (the announcement) is all about the coalition painting a picture that a lot of people are trying to take advantage of Australia.
“There is no indication that this is the case.
“It is not easy to get refugee status in Australia.”
He also rejected moves to review approvals of refugees and the establishment of a new integrity commissioner to audit all refugee decisions.
“This would just create another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy,” he said.
The “enhancements” would be on top of the party’s current immigration policy, which includes the re-establishment of offshore processing at Nauru, the re-introduction of temporary protection visas and the option of turning boats around.
It is not the first time the opposition has flagged a crackdown on asylum seekers entering Australia without proper documentation.In April 2010, Mr Morrison said having correct documentation should be a “key requirement” for asylum seekers.
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