Refugees who try to reach Australia by boat will be banned from ever visiting the country, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.
He announced plans to ratchet up his tough policy against asylum seekers, saying: “You need the clearest of clear messages.”
A previous government introduced a policy on July 19 2013, banning refugees who arrive by boat from Indonesian ports after that date from ever being resettled in Australia.
Under legislation to be unveiled next week, thousands of asylum seekers who have returned to their homelands in the Middle East, Africa and Asia would be banned for life from ever travelling to Australia as tourists, to do business or as an Australian’s spouse.
Mr Turnbull said: “This is a battle of will between the Australian people, represented by their government, and these criminal gangs of people smugglers. You should not under-estimate the scale of the threat.”
Australia has paid the poor Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea to keep asylum seekers in camps since the 2013 policy came into force.
The new policy would apply to all asylum seekers who have attempted to reach Australia since July 19 2013.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton said asylum seeker children would be exempt from the visa ban and he would have discretion to make exceptions for adults in cases where to do so was in the public interest.