Tuesday, 20 May 2008 10:01 AM

Australia to Scrap Pacific Solution in Asylum Cases

Australia is planning to scrap the Pacific Solution for the asylum seekers who are still living in detention centers.

A report by Radio Australia states that the country's Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, 'says he has nearly finalised the cases involving a large number of long-term detainees who have been held for up to six years' and that 'he has decided what will happen to the 72 asylum seekers, but not all have been notified'.

The Pacific Solution scheme was set up by the previous Howard government which 'negotiated with a number of neighbouring countries in the Pacific region, including Nauru, to establish offshore detention centres' to house the asylum seekers.

Australia had experienced an increase in people attempting to seek asylum in the country, especially so in 2001. And the most noted incident in this time was when a Norwegian cargo ship, the MV Tampa, rescued 400 plus Afghans from a distressed fishing vessel in international waters, close to Christmas Island which is an Australian territory.
As in the case of such incidences in every part of the world, people seeking asylum usually traveled in such a manner, overcrowded on unseaworthy vessels, usually paying people a large amount of money to smuggle them into countries such as Australia.

Some of the refugees from this rescue were sent to Nauru, which had been set up as a detention centre for Australia. Manus Island in Papua New Guinea was also another detention centre as well as Christmas Island. This was all part of the lead up to the Pacific Solution as those rescued by the MV Tampa were of course, not the last.

According to Radio Australia's report, 'Mr Evans has also announced that all refugees on temporary protection visas will be granted permanent residency' but that 'the scrapping of the scheme will not lead to more asylum seekers entering the country'.

Radio Australia further quotes Mr. Evans as saying, "People who apply will be treated under the normal program, so it doesn't increase the size of the family reunion program or the humanitarian program. But there are just short of a thousand people still on temporary protection visas in this country, so that's a thousand people who'll be granted permanent residency."

Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, had stated in his election campaign against then Prime Minister, John Howard, that he would end the Pacific Solution if he was elected.