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Australian PM Julia Gillard hits out at asylum ruling

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has hit out at a High Court decision that ruled an asylum deal with Malaysia was unlawful.

Ms Gillard called the ruling “deeply disappointing” and said the court had “rewritten the Migration Act”.

Under the deal, Australia would have sent 800 asylum-seekers to Malaysia and would have received 4,000 refugees in return over four years.

But the court ruled Malaysia did not offer adequate protection for refugees.

The decision was an embarrassment for Ms Gillard’s government, which had sought to appear tough on asylum.

But human rights activists in both Malaysia and Australia have welcomed the news.

‘Different interpretation’

Speaking in Brisbane, Ms Gillard said that the court ruling “turns on its head the understanding of the law in this country”, ABC News reported.

“Yesterday the asylum-seeker and refugee law of this country changed – changed from how it had been known and understood before with a different interpretation,” she said.

She said that the government would await advice from Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler before proceeding, but warned of a possible spike in asylum-seekers arriving by sea in the wake of the ruling.

The “Malaysian Solution” would have seen up to 800 people arriving “irregularly” in Australia by boat after 25 July transferred to Malaysia for “refugee status determination”.

There they would join a queue of refugees already seeking resettlement.

Meanwhile, Australia would have expanded its intake of refugees to include a further 4,000 refugees who entered Malaysia before 25 July.

This was supposed to send a tough message to boat people that they would not be processed in Australia and they would not receive “preferential treatment” over other asylum-seekers.

But the court ruled that the exchange was illegal as Malaysia, which is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees, offered inadequate legal protections for asylum seekers.

It said Australia would fail to meet its international obligations under the terms of the deal.

‘Expensive and harmful’

Ms Gillard said that the ruling could impact on Australian proposals to send asylum-seekers to re-opened processing camps in Papua New Guinea or on the Pacific island of Nauru.

“It is far from clear whether the court’s ruling would, practically speaking, permit the operation of offshore processing in other locations, even in locations where offshore processing has been conducted in the past,” she said.

The Greens – on whom Ms Gillard’s minority government depends for support – have welcomed the ruling, with Senator Sarah Hanson-Young urging the government to move away from “expensive, harmful and illegal” offshore processing.

Malaysian activists have also praised it, calling on Kuala Lumpur to sign the UN convention on refugees and raise accommodation standards.

Refugee advocates in Australia, meanwhile, have called on the government to accelerate processing of detainees’ asylum claims.

Australia currently detains all asylum-seekers arriving by boat, including several hundred in a centre on Christmas Island which has seen riots in recent months.


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5 Responses to " Australian PM Julia Gillard hits out at asylum ruling "

  1. Tony says:


    Both parties are wrong as they are wrangling over the amount of refugees to let in.

    The correct amount is zero.

    If the govt. won’t do it, people need to amend the Australian constitution to allow binding superseding national referenda so they can pass good laws themselves.

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  2. Good Ol' Boys says:

    ‘The Schlong was this long,honest.’

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  3. Joe says:

    I don’t understand why the Australian government would want to let in thousands of stinking unskilled,uneducated,non English speaking men that will never be compatible with a white Christian Australia.All they want to do is live off of welfare and rape young white Australian women.

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  4. Vlad the Impaler says:

    it is a total nonsense. 800 sand monkeys times 4 (years) equals to 3200 sand monkeys. she wants to deport 800 a year, and after instead, to accept 4000 over 4 years??! where is the logic? or am i missing something?

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  5. rita says:

    why would you do some thing like that, when our houses have hit sky rock it, our children wont be able to afford houses as everything is excessive, but that’s ok, cause you look after every one else bar your own ,no houses to rent,there’s a 14 years waiting for a ministry of housing look on our side of the fence not any one eases

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