'The lawyers can rant all they want': Dutton resolute on 'fake refugees' crackdown


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has rebuffed lawyers threatening to challenge his decision to impose a four-month deadline on so-called 'fake refugees'.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is unapologetic about setting a four-month deadline for thousands of refugee applications, saying Australia's generosity must not be abused.

Immigation Minister Peter Dutton has set a non-negotiable cut off date of October 1 for 7500 asylum seekers to make a protection claim, or face the threat of deportation.

Asked if he would also use Mr Dutton's term "fake refugees," Mr Turnbull said, those determined not to be refugees should go home.

"The issue we face is ensuring our generosity as a nation that takes a very large number of refugees... that it is not abused," he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Earlier Mr Dutton rebuffed lawyers threatening to challenge his decision to impose the deadline.

The decision already has the backing of Senate crossbencher Jacqui Lambie.

But lawyer David Manne, who has more than 2000 asylum seekers on his legal centre's books, argues the process is long and complicated.

"Successive governments left thousands of people in legal limbo, not being able to apply for protection and it was only in 2015 that the bar was lifted to allow people to present their cases for protection," he told ABC radio.

Mr Dutton says some asylum seekers are refusing to submit paperwork and do not deserve to be receiving welfare.

"These are people who have been here for five, six, seven years claiming to be refugees but won't provide any information, won't answer questions, in some cases won't provide information about their identity," he told the Nine Network.

"They expect me to grant visas, allow some people to become citizens when we don't even know the identity of these people. The lawyers can rant all they want."

Refugee Council of Australia spokesman Tim O'Connor accused the government of "moving the goal posts" for asylum seekers.

"People, who are here seeking asylum have been kept waiting and waiting and waiting by this government," he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr O'Connor pointed out legal assistance to asylum seekers had been ripped away leaving thousands on waiting lists for pro bono advice.

Amnesty International spokesman Graham Thom said a large number of the asylum seeker cohort affected were from Rohingya from Myanmar (Burma).

It was only in the past few weeks they have been given the application form translated into their own language, he said.

Greens senator Nick McKim said the government had cut funding to assist people to make comprehensive applications for refugee status.

"He's cut funding that provides interpreter services for people so they can have conversations with their legal representatives," he told reporters in Canberra.

"When you couple that with Mr Dutton prejudging their applications by describing them as 'fake refugees', it pulls the veil away from this. This is about politics, not proper process."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch