Morrison Announces Tamil Asylum Seekers Will Be Brought To Mainland For Processing

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, has announced that the government will bring 157 Tamil asylum seekers to the Australian mainland for processing.


The Tamils have been on an Australian customs vessel in the Indian Ocean since last month. The High Court ruled that they could not be handed over to Sri Lankan officials.

The asylum seekers will have access to Indian consular officials but they will not be given the opportunity for resettlement in Australia. They are expected to be brought to Cocos Island and then to the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia, although Morrison would not confirm these details.

Ordinarily, the government does not confirm details of what it calls “on-water operations”. Morrison stressed that the government’s policy has not changed and that no asylum-seeker boats have reached the Australian mainland in the past seven months.

He said “the government has, and will always, act in accordance with our obligations and with our laws, both international and domestic”.

Morrison said: “There is no change to our policy on any front and, more importantly, there is no change to our resolve.”

  • Listen to Morrison’s press conference (19m)

Hanson-Young Accuses Morrison Of Policy On The Run


Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young accused Morrison of “policy on the run”. She said he was making it up as he went along, was showing “arrogant contempt” for the asylum-seekers and the Australian people, and was a “spectacular failure”.

Hanson-Young said she was relieved that 37 children would be removed from the “prison ship”.

“These people deserve protection and help… the minister pretended for weeks that they did not exist,” she said.

  • Listen to Hanson-Young’s media conference (10m)

Media release from the Australian Greens.

Morrison’s real failure is his refusal to treat refugees as human

The Abbott Government must commit to quickly and fairly processing the asylum claims of 157 Tamils who will reach the Australian mainland, the Australian Greens have said.

“The Immigration Minister is a spectacular failure by his own measure, as well as the measure of the international community and decent, caring Australians,” the Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The Abbott Government has created this debacle themselves by acting illegally and failing to treat refugees as human beings with dignity.

“The government has spent weeks showing nothing but contempt for the Parliament, the courts, the asylum seekers on this boat and the Australian people’s right to know.

“This shameful spectacle, that has seen the government making up cruel policy on the run, will continue until the people on this boat are offered genuine and permanent protection.

“After the traumatic experience that the children on this boat have been put through, the Abbott Government must give assurances that they won’t be sent to Nauru or Christmas Island.

“The Abbott Government must guarantee that the people on this boat will be given access to their lawyers.

“The protection claims of all 157 Tamil asylum seekers on this boat must now be processed fairly and quickly on the Australian mainland.”

Statement from the Human Rights Law Centre.

Welcome reports that 157 asylum seekers currently detained on the high seas will be brought to the Australian mainland

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed reports that the Australian customs vessel carrying 157 Tamil asylum seekers is on its way to Australian territory.

Hugh de Kretser, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre which has been working with Shine Lawyers and the legal team representing the asylum seekers in their High Court challenge, welcomed the reports.

“This means the worst fears of our clients have been avoided for the time being and they will be extremely relieved. However many serious questions remain. The legal team is currently assessing the impact of these developments on the case,” said Mr de Kretser.

Due to the ongoing legal proceedings, Mr de Kretser said there were restrictions on what he could currently discuss about the 157 people detained by the Australian Government on the customs vessel since the 29th of June.

“Australia should promptly and properly assess people’s claims for protection in a fair and transparent manner consistent with our obligations under international law,” said Mr de Kretser.

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