The federal government has entered into a new asylum seeker deal with Malaysia to tackle people smuggling and irerregular migration in the Asia Pacific region.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on Saturday that an agreement with Malaysian Prime Minister, Hon. Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak means hundreds of boat peope will be sent to Malaysia.
At a press conference, Ms Gillard assured genuine refugees that they need not fear the new arrangrments.
The PM says it will encourage refugee applicants to adhere to an ‘orderly migration program’ in Australia, with the deal also aimed at stopping the ‘dangerous’ people smuggling systems, and protecting our borders.
Ms Gillard has also confirmed she is investigating PNG as a possible location for a regional processing centre saying discussions are continuing.
According to Malaysia’s National News agency, Prime Ministers Najib and Gillard have agreed that core elements of the new bilateral arrangement will include:
* 800 irregular maritime arrivals, who arrive in Australia after the date of effect of the arrangement, will be transferred to Malaysia for refugee status determination.
* in return, over four years, Australia will resettle 4000 refugees already currently residing in Malaysia.
* transferees will not receive any preferential treatment over asylum seekers already in Malaysia.
* transferees will be provided with the opportunity to have their asylum claims considered and those in need of international protection will not be refouled.
* transferees will be treated with dignity and respect and in accordance with human rights standards.
* Australia will fully fund the arrangement.
The announcement comes as a boat of 85 suspected asylum seekers has been intercepted on its way to Australia.
The HMAS Broome, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted the vessel northeast of Christmas Island on Saturday afternoon, the office of Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said in a statement.
The group will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo security, identity and health checks and have their reasons for travel established.