Kevin Rudd makes deal to send refugees to PNG
REFUGEES who reach Christmas Island or the Australian mainland will now be shipped directly to Papua New Guinea, after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd struck a deal with PNG on Friday.
The deal will see all genuine refugees who travel to Australia by boat moved to PNG for the next 12 months, with an option to renew the deal after annual reviews.
Those found not to be genuine refugees will be transferred to "third countries", while all those who arrive on Christmas Island will be sent to the Manus Island detention centre.
Mr Rudd said that arriving in Australia by boat will "no longer mean settlement in Australia".
Under the deal, Mr Rudd has also ruled out an absolute limit to the number of refugees who could be resettled in PNG.
"What we're on about here is a new arrangement that will send a clear message to people smugglers, without having a major impact on the budget," Mr Rudd said.
He said he understood the deal would be seen as "hardline", but that it had come after lengthy deliberation with PNG and Australian officials.
Mr Rudd said he also spoke to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Thursday, outlining the new Refugee Resettlement Agreement, before the announcement.
He said he had also proposed an international conference be held in Australia to help find solutions to people-smuggling and asylum-seekers the world over.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke said the deal would start "from now on" on Friday, but it would take up to two weeks for processing on Christmas Island before new arrivals could be transferred.
He said the Australian Government would now be working to bring the Manus Island centre "up to standard", with the current temporary facility as yet unfinished.
Mr Rudd said the government was fully mindful of the international refugee convention, and Australia would continue to take "large numbers of refugees" through the normal channels.
He said the government was also willing to consider increasing its annual resettlement quota for genuine refugees under its obligations.