Australia transfers asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea
Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 01:31
Aug. 1 - As part of a tough new scheme, Australia sends the first group of asylum seekers to a remote island in Papua New Guinea for assessment and eventual settlement. Tom Dinham reports.
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This is not the destination they had hoped for.
On Thursday, these asylum seekers, who arrived in Australia, were part of the first wave to be sent to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
Under tough new rules, anyone who comes to Australia by boat without the proper paperwork will automatically be sent to Papua New Guinea for assessment.
People assessed to be refugees will be permanently settled in Papua New Guinea.
The first group the new rules are being applied to consisted of around 40 people. They were mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers who had been detained in Australia's Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island.
Authorities said the move should send a stern warning to people smugglers and those considering getting on a boat.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN IMMIGRATION MINISTER TONY BURKE, SAYING:
"The people smugglers no longer have a product to sell. There is no point getting on a boat anymore and the first group that has gone across under the new rules have this applied to them. In the coming days there will be more and more who are flown across and over time every single person who arrives under these new rules will find that the government is true to its word and they will not be settled in Australia."
Opponents of the measures accuse Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of scoring cheap political capital before upcoming elections.
More than 15,000 asylum seekers have arrived by boat in Australian territory this year.
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