The federal government has extended a travel ban on people from six countries including Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen for one year.
It also temporarily stopped people from coming into Australia from those countries.
It’s a major move in the ongoing refugee crisis that has seen more than 5,000 people arrive in Australia since July.
The Government said it was the latest step in the Coalition’s plans to manage Australia’s growing refugee population, including the return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin.”
It’s about the safety of our communities, it’s about ensuring we’re getting a better return on our investment in the Australian community, and it’s also about ensuring our health care system is up to date,” Health Minister Nicola Roxon said.”
The travel ban is about keeping us safe.”
Ms Roxon was speaking as the Federal Government released its third annual report on Australia’s refugee intake.
The data showed the number of asylum seeker arrivals to Australia was up 11.2 per cent on the same period last year and up 15.4 per cent from the year before.”
We need to be careful about how we respond to these events, but I think we have to take this opportunity to reflect on how we have managed the asylum process,” she said.
The Prime Minister said the Government would continue to implement policies that protect people in Australia.”
They will be the ones responsible for ensuring that our community remains safe,” Mr Abbott said.
“The travel bans are only temporary.
The government will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure Australia remains a safe place for Australians to live and work.”
It is not clear what the Government plans to do with all the extra refugees from the six countries.
Mr Abbott said the country would need to consider how many people were arriving in Australia, and that the Government had a plan to accommodate all of them.”
If you can get all the refugees in, then you can make a decision about who will come to Australia,” he said.
Mr Rudd said Australia was ”taking in an unprecedented number of refugees”.”
We have an enormous number of people that we are processing at the moment, we have an estimated 25,000 new arrivals to our country each week, and we have got to get through that,” he told the ABC.”
And we’re not just dealing with people who have been granted refugee status.”
These people are also people that are people who were on the run for years, and now we have a lot of them coming in.”
He said it would take time to process and integrate the refugees.”
I think there are going to be people who are coming to Australia that we can’t handle.”
People who are on the road to a life in Australia or who are going back to the Middle East or to Syria and the danger that that puts them in is that they are at risk.”
Mr Rudd also said the Australian Government would not allow the number to rise further and that ”no one is going to get a pass”.
He said he would not ”begrudge” the Government the responsibility to ensure that refugees were returned to their home countries.
The Minister also defended the Government’s decision to suspend visa processing for Australians from the seven countries, including Iran.”
That was an obvious decision and the Government has made the decision to say this is not an opportunity to get people to our borders,” he was quoted as saying by the ABC’s AM program.”
So it’s really not a question of prioritising the refugees, it is about prioritising ensuring that we’re able to process these people as quickly as possible.”
The Minister has previously said he does not believe that the Iran ban is necessary, but he also told ABC Radio he would be ”really concerned” if it was imposed on Australians.”
This is about Australia, this is about security, this isn’t about a human rights issue,” he says.”
There is a human right in Australia to be able to come here to work, and the right to travel.”
Australia is not about a war-torn country in Iran, this nation is about people that have the same rights as Australians.
“I don’t think that the decision that’s been made is the right one.”
But I do think there’s a lot that we have not done that has made Australia safer, and I do believe that this is a matter of human rights.”
Ms Rudd said the Minister’s comments were a reminder of why Australia had stepped up its asylum processing process.”
Every Australian should be worried about what’s happening right now,” she told AM.
”I think the Government needs to step up and ensure that we do not lose any Australians.”