Australia: Asylum Seekers Free After Malaysia Swap Deal Fails

Asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat are being moved into the community on bridging visas after the failure of the Gillard government's Malaysian people-swap deal.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says he has approved bridging visas for 27 single men, mostly Afghans and Sri Lankans, who have been in detention for long periods, The Daily Telegraph reported.

It is understood thousands more will be released by the Federal Government over the next six months.

A confidential internal NSW government briefing note obtained by News Ltd said more than 2200 asylum seekers were expected to relocate in Sydney alone.

"In addition, the 4882 IMAs (irregular maritime arrivals) are only those currently in detention. Once it is widely known that IMAs will live in the community while being processed, the level of entries into Australia are very likely to escalate," said the note which was provided to NSW agency heads late yesterday.

The High Court ruled the Malaysia deal unlawful in August and the government's attempts to resurrect it through legislative changes have so far failed.

Mr Bowen said his department was identifying more people suitable for release.

"We would expect to see at least 100 IMAs eventually being released every month," he said.

Next year the government would begin processing boat arrivals the same way it processed asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by plane, Mr Bowen said.

"With the legislative impasse and the resulting move toward greater community placement, there is no longer any benefit to parallel processing arrangements for offshore entry persons," he said.

The group, released from detention centres all over the country, will be accommodated with family or friends.

Although they will have the right to work, they will have no access to Centrelink benefits.

There are already about 1300 asylum seekers living in the community - mainly women and children.

Recent News

19 weeks 3 days ago
2 years 37 weeks ago