Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promotes new refugee deal with US

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promotes new refugee deal with US

SBS World News Radio: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is promoting a new deal with the United States to resettle refugees there - a deal he says was made with the Obama administration.  

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is promoting a new deal with the United States to resettle refugees there - a deal he says was made with the Obama administration.

 

 

 

The federal government has defended the lack of detail around the deal with the United States to settle refugees there, saying the government doesn't want to encourage any new arrivals. What is known is the agreement would see up to 1800 asylum seekers on Nauru or Manus Island given the option to return to their country of origin, or accept resettlement in a third country.

Malcolm Turnbull says any refugees resettled in the US would have to fit within America's existing annual intake.

"Well this is a matter for the United States government. Their officials will be coming to Australia in the next few days and then travelling up to Nauru. We would like to see this arrangement proceeded with in a speedy manner but that is very much in the hands of the United States government."

When asked if the deal might encourage more asylum seekers to arrive by boat with the hope of being resettled in the United States, Mr Turnbull says that was an issue the government had prepared for - confirming any boats intercepted would be sent back.

"We have gone to great lengths in preparing for this, that is why late last year I ensured that we had acquired an additional large hulled vessel to add to our defences. We have been very systematic about this. But our message to the people smugglers is very, very straight forward, you will fail. You will not succeed in your ventures to Australia. The arrangements to the United States are one off.

Refugee Council president Phil Glendenning described the deal as a vital first step forward for refugees on Manus and Nauru.

"We're very pleased that people will be getting safety and security guaranteed we hope. Secondly we have concerns about who is going to be excluded here we don't know the details there. The other big issue is about a timeline about dates. When this all will happen. It has to happen much more quickly then say for example the Syrian resettlement did. But by any measure it's a vital first step."

The US resettlement plans comes as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton increases the pressure on Labor to back the government's plan for a lifetime visa ban on asylum seekers arriving by boat, warning new arrivals could jeopardise resettlement negotiations with third countries.

Government legislation for the visa ban is facing defeat in the Senate after Labor and the Greens expressed opposition to the move.

Mr Dutton has told ABC radio Australia faces the threat of increased people-smuggler traffic without the legislation.

"The most important thing for us is that boats don't recommence because that would jeopardise any arrangement or any deal. And that's why we have called on the opposition to support this proposal, to support elements of it which include legislation that they voted against last week."

Labor says it is giving the resettlement arrangement in-principle support.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has welcomed the news and says they will work with the government to try and make the US deal work.

"What I promise Australians is I won't be like Tony Abbott and the Liberals and the Green political party in the last Labor government where they blocked the Malaysia solution. We will work with the government, my people are getting briefed today about this resettlement. We won't unreasonably withhold our agreement. This country works best when we work together. And where the case is made and where the evidence is put forward, where there is something positive we will be up for making that work."

Meanwhile a prominent US anti-immigration think tank has warned the refugee resettlement deal won't last beyond Donald Trump's firs

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch