Refugee lawyers vow to fight for 71 asylum seekers after Dutton cuts welfare support


Refugee lawyers have vowed to fight for the rights of 71 people who have had their welfare benefits cut after missing Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's deadline for protection claims to be lodged.

Support has been cut to 71 asylum seekers who did not lodge claims for protection in Australia before an October 1 deadline.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had given 7500 asylum seekers who arrived by boat a non-negotiable deadline to "lodge it or leave".

Advocacy group Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has hit out at the federal government's decision to cut welfare benefits to all 71 people who missed the deadline.

"These are mothers, fathers, and young children. Many were scared to come forward to lodge protection claims, given Australia's ever-changing refugee policies and laws, and the uncertainty in process," ASRC acting principal lawyer Noosheen Mogadam said.

"After the minster's delegates make these decisions, we will try to assist those unfairly refused to access the courts and as our Attorney General recently advised in his address at the International Bar Association in Sydney, we will fight for the rule of law for those most vulnerable in our society."

ASRC chief executive officer Kon Karapanagiotidis said it was unfair the government had made this 'blanket decision' without considering people on a case-by-case basis.

"For the 71 people excluded, ASRC and many other legal services challenge the legality of removing the right to seek asylum from 71 people," he said.

"What if one of them is a single mother from Myanmar who couldn't apply because she couldn't leave her kids to come to a legal appointment? How can you have blanket decision on the 71 people without considering each case?"

Speaking with Ray Hadley's 2GB programme this morning Mr Dutton said the 7429 people who had met the deadline would now have their claims processed by the Department of Immigration.

He said those found not to be a refugee after their assessment would be deported from Australia.

Mr Dutton said the 71 people who had not met the deadline have already been cut off from receiving government benefits.

"I said enough is enough, provide or benefits are cut off," he said.

"They're on welfare benefits costing taxpayers quarter of a billion dollars a year and they're refusing to provide any information.

"They are out in the community and we’ve been very clear about that."

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