Follow by Email

Monday, March 31, 2014

Free legal aid to asylum seekers dumped

Scott Morrison and Lieutenant General Angus Campbell

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the Coalition has kept its election promise to dump free legal aid to asylum seekers who arrive without a proper visa, either by boat or plane.  It will also apply to the "vast majority" of 30,000 people already in detention waiting for their claims to be processed.  In future, they will have to rely on pro bono immigration advice.

Dumping the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme will save the government $100 million over four years. "Whether someone is a refugee or not is determined by the process" Mr Morrison said. "What we're saying is it's not going to be the responsibility of taxpayers anymore to fund people pursuing appeals and various other things through this process."

Nobody can argue with the figures - last Saturday marked 100 days since the last asylum-seeker boat arrived on Australian territory. Although it's clear the government's Operation Sovereign Borders is working, Scott Morrison wouldn't say how many boats had been turned around and sent back to Indonesia during that period.  "It's our job to make sure they continue to fail" he said.

Papua New Guinea has agreed to resettle some but can't possibly take them all, and other Pacific nations have been approached to help share the wear.  "But what happens if no other countries come forward to take them?" someone asked. "They'll remain until they return voluntarily" he said.