Bill Shorten

'Shocking cruelty': Government launches welfare crackdown on asylum seekers in Australia

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The federal government intends to cut off a $200-a-fortnight welfare payment from asylum seekers and give them three weeks to move out of public housing.

About 100 asylum seekers will be hunting for jobs and homes immediately after the federal government launched a surprise move to cut them off welfare.

The immigration department has told asylum seekers in Australia they'll lose a $200-a-fortnight payment from Monday and have three weeks to move out of government-supported accommodation after being moved onto a "final departure Bridging E Visa".

Up to now they have been prevented from working, refugee advocates say.

"And now, completely out of the blue, with no notice whatsoever, they've been told tomorrow, you have no income we're taking all of your income away and in three weeks time we're taking your homes away," Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser told reporters in Melbourne.

His centre and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre say about 100 people will be immediately affected by the Turnbull government's crackdown, but estimates the number could be as high as 400.

Those affected include people who have come to Australia from offshore detention centres for medical treatment.

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Refugees who have been treated in Australia must go back
Refugees who have been treated in Australia must go back

Labor, Greens seek to overturn Turnbull's decision

Labor and the Greens are looking at overturning a Turnbull government decision to cut the welfare benefits of about 100 asylum seekers.

The immigration department has told the group they'll lose a $200-a-fortnight payment from Monday.
As well they'll have three weeks to move out of government-supported accommodation after being moved onto a final departure bridging visa.

Until now, they have been prevented from working, refugee advocates say.

"And now, completely out of the blue, with no notice whatsoever, they've been told tomorrow, you have no income we're taking all of your income away and in three weeks time we're taking your homes away," Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

His centre and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre say about 100 people will be immediately affected by the crackdown, but estimates the number could be as high as 400.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge could not confirm the precise number of asylum seekers at risk of being sent back to Nauru or Manus Island or their country of origin, but said there wouldn't be any further provision of taxpayer support in Australia.

"They've been prevented from working," Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser told reporters in Melbourne.

"And now, completely out of the blue, with no notice whatsoever, they've been told tomorrow, you have no income we're taking all of your income away and in three weeks time we're taking your homes away."

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Human rights lawyers criticise Dutton's act of 'shocking cruelty'
Human rights lawyers criticise Dutton's act of 'shocking cruelty'

Advocate Natasha Blucher said the asylum seekers were "very, very employable" and wanted to work, but with their history of trauma and the short notice, getting on their feet in "this time frame is absurd and it's impossible and it will end with children homeless."

Mr Tudge said the move was consistent with the principle that anybody who arrives by boat would not be settled in Australia.

"They will be settled elsewhere. That's what this is about," he said.

He did not think it was unreasonable to withdraw taxpayers support if they refuse to return back to Manus or Nauru.

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Tudge: Asylum seekers must return overseas once treatment ended
Tudge: Asylum seekers must return overseas once treatment ended

Labor immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said the Turnbull government had "sunk to a new low".

"By purposefully making these people destitute and homeless, the Turnbull government can only be exacerbating the health conditions which asylum seekers were originally transferred to Australia to be treated for," Mr Neumann said in a statement.

A Department of Immigration document said income support would cease from Monday, August 28 and a "final departure Bridging E Visa" would be issued giving asylum seekers three weeks to move out of government supported accommodation.

They will also be expected to sign the Code of Behaviour when released into the Australian community.

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Greens leader condemns asylum seeker support cuts
Greens leader condemns asylum seeker support cuts

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