Australia scraps Malaysia asylum-swap plan

Added by on October 13, 2011

After failing to gain enough votes in parliament to allow asylum seekers to be processed outside of Australia, the Australian government announced today that it will now process asylum seekers onshore.

Earlier this year, in July, the Australian and Malaysian governments signed a groundbreaking arrangement to combat people smuggling and provide protection to an additional 4,000 genuine refugees. The agreement was to provide for the transfer from Australia to Malaysia of up to 800 refugees to rejoin more than 90,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia, and allow more than 4,000 people to be given the opportunity to resettle in Australia.

Prime Minister Gillard’s minority government was unable to gain the backing of MPs. Gillard said, “Whilst we are committed to the Malaysia arrangement and believe it is the best policy outcome…clearly we will not be able to implement it.”

The legislation was viewed by officials at Amnesty International as a “political ploy”‘ for “political posturing” by the Australian government.

The Gillard government is reported to have said that the deal was to “deter people from risking their lives at sea”, and to fight what Gillard referred to as “the people-smugglers business model” that gets asylum seekers to Australia.