Dutton again rules out UN migration deal over 'sovereignty'

The Home Affairs minister has reaffirmed that Australia won't be signing a UN pact on migration.

Australia could be among a small handful of countries that refuse to sign a United Nations pact on migration, with Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton again blasting the deal as a threat to the nation's sovereignty and border security. 

The UN global compact for migration would not be legally binding but says signatories should only put migrants in immigration detention as a "last resort" for the "shortest possible period of time". 

Australia's policy is to send all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to offshore detention centres on Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. They are not allowed to settle in Australia, even if their refugee claims are approved, so many have been waiting there for up to five years. 

"We're not going to sign a document that surrenders our sovereignty," Mr Dutton told 2GB radio on Thursday.

"We're serious about keeping our borders secure. We're not going to allow the UN or anybody else to disrupt the hard work that's taken place."

Mr Dutton made similar comments last week in an interview with 2GB.

A file image of refugees on Nauru.
Source: AAP

“We’re not going to sign a deal that sacrifices anything in terms of our border protection policies. We’ve fought hard for them," he said when asked if Australia would sign a global migration deal.

Asked if Australia would sign "a global compact on migration", Mr Dutton said: "Not if it's not in our national interests."

The pact, organised by the UN's International Organisation for Migration, has the support of almost every country in the world. 

But in December, the Trump administration pulled the United States out of the negotiations. This year, Hungary's anti-immigration leader announced the country would become the second to reject the agreement.

The pact encourages governments to develop "education" campaigns for the media to encourage "positive narratives about migrants and migration in order to counteract discrimination, ­racism and xenophobia”. 

Mr Dutton suggested some European countries were losing their identities after being flooded by millions of undocumented immigrants.

"In generations to come that will have a huge impact on those societies," Mr Dutton said. 

He said the pact would undermine the government's efforts to crack down on people smugglers. 

"We're not going to give up those hard-fought gains," he said. 

We're not going to give up those hard-fought gains

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton

Refugee advocates have slammed the government's stance.

The director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb, told the Guardian that the government was attempting to avoid oversight.

"Our government has detained 120 children in an island prison for five years. Twelve people have died. Children as young as 10 are trying to kill themselves," Mr Webb said.

"It's no wonder our government is trying to shirk scrutiny."

The Labor opposition has so far declined to comment on the pact, saying it is a question for the government. 

Published 2 August 2018 at 12:04pm, updated 2 August 2018 at 4:08pm
By James Elton-Pym