Asylum seekers could be sent back to their home country if they face a less than 50 per cent chance of death or torture on their return under sweeping changes to migration policy in Australia.
New legislation introduced to federal parliament by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison today outlines plans to streamline claims by asylum seekers arriving in Australia.
The bill states that asylum seekers must prove to the Minister that they are more likely than not to suffer “significant harm” if removed, as part of a move to define the risk threshold for assessing Australia’s protection obligations.
“The risk threshold of more likely than not means that there would be a greater than 50 per cent chance that a person would suffer significant harm in the receiving country,” it states.
The bill also moves to allow the refusal of protection visa applications when asylum seekers can’t establish their identity, nationality or citizenship.
This includes when an asylum seeker has destroyed documents such as passports.
A new section also outlines the burden placed on asylum seekers to provide sufficient evidence to the government, stating that it was their “responsibility to provide and substantiate claims”.
The bill has been criticised by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who described the measures as “grotty dog-whistling”.
“This whole rule really shows total disrespect and a misunderstanding of what asylum seekers and refugees face in making the choice to leave in the first instance,” Senator Hanson-Young told SBS.
“The whole purpose of this is so that Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott can continue to deport people."
The bill follows news that the Abbott government is offering up to $10,000 to asylum seekers to encourage them to return to countries from which they fled.
Under the previous Labor federal government, asylum seekers were offered up to $2,000 to return to their country of origin. The amount now being offered is $10,000 for Lebanese asylum seekers, $7,000 for Iranian asylum seekers, $4,000 for Afghan asylum seekers and $3,300 for Nepalese, Burmese and Sudanese asylum seekers, Fairfax media reports.
Opposition Immigration Minister Richard Marles says offering asylum seekers thousands of dollars will not speed up the processing of asylum seekers.