Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton has admitted that “deportations were often the best choice” in some cases and said he had not been given any information about how many people were sent home.
The Immigration Minister made the comments in an interview with Sky News, following a meeting with Australian Border Force officers on Monday.
“I’m aware that I’ve got to explain to our agents what’s going on and I haven’t got a clear understanding of how many are actually being sent home, but I’m not going to be too specific on that,” Mr Dutton said.
The minister was responding to questions about the number of people sent home in the wake of the country’s deadliest mass immigration crisis since World War II.
Mr Dutton, who was sworn in to the federal parliament in Canberra last week, said that some of the people sent back home were “not necessarily the best choices” but that the “most likely outcomes were good for the community”.
“I think we can all agree that a lot of the decisions that we’ve had to make to deal with this have been the best decisions that have been made,” he said.
“But we don’t know exactly how many of those people were actually sent home.”
Mr Dutovers comments come as a new Government report reveals more than half of the 2.2 million asylum seekers who were forcibly returned to Australia last year were “unaccompanied children”.
The ABC understands the Government’s review is looking into whether there is a way to “return” asylum seekers to Australia as soon as possible.
Under the Immigration Act, it is illegal to send an asylum seeker back to a country if they are not entitled to it, including when they are in transit to Australia.
While many people who have been returned are returned to their country of origin, it can also be the case that they have been forcibly removed from the country, or have had their refugee status revoked.
Mr Dutons comments came as the Government was criticised for not providing more information about the impact of the immigration detention centres.
“It’s been a very, very difficult process for me to understand and I’m really, really disappointed,” he told Sky News.
“I haven’t been told exactly how the people that are being sent back are getting on.
I havenít been given a detailed understanding of what happens in these facilities.”
What I know is that if you’re a person who is not entitled, if you are a child, and you are detained in these centres and you’re not going home then you are subject to the detention conditions, which is really a breach of your human rights.
Mr O’Brien told 7.30 he did not understand why the Minister did not know how many were actually being returned home.””
Itís an absolute disgrace that we have a system that is failing people.”
Mr O’Brien told 7.30 he did not understand why the Minister did not know how many were actually being returned home.
“That is the thing that frustrates me,” he added.
“Because when I went to the airport yesterday, I didn’t know what I was going to find, and I was just looking forward to going home.
It’s a shame that it hasnít occurred to the Minister.” Mr O