September 13, 2017
Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton announced on August 28 that 70 asylum seekers were being issued with new “final departure” visas. These people had their fortnightly welfare payments cut off, and were given three weeks to vacate their accommodation.
The move could affect up to 370 former offshore detainees who were transferred to Australia due to medical reasons. The cohort are the last asylum seekers to have made it to Australian shores, and were the focus of the recent ‘Let Them Stay’ campaign.
Dutton recently told the Daily Telegraph that “the con” was up. He acknowledged that these people had come to Australia for medical care, but claimed that “through tricky legal moves they are now prevented from returning to their country of origin, Manus or Nauru.”
The minister added that the cost of providing for each of these asylum seekers within the Australian community is $120,000 a year, but neglected to mention that the cost of detaining them offshore is $573,000 per annum.
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The minister then appeared on Alan Jones’ 2GB radio program. He asserted that the asylum seekers were performing these “tricky legal moves” with the help of lawyers representing them on a pro bono basis.
When Jones posed the question, “But this is un-Australian, isn’t it?” Mr Dutton replied, “Well, of course it is.” The minister further implied that these lawyers “have been playing the game” for far too long, and that the nation was “not going to be taken for a ride.”