IMMIGRATION Minister Peter Dutton has set a deadline of October 1 for illegal arrivals living in Australia to apply for refugee protection or face deportation.
He said there are 7500 illegal maritime arrivals who have refused to provide detail about their claim for protection, dubbing them “fake refugees”. “We aren’t going to tolerate that any longer,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Sunday.
Many arrived without identity documents on boats run by people smugglers up to seven years ago under previous Labor governments.
Mr Dutton said many were residing in Australia on government benefits which last year cost around $250 million in income support alone.
“If people think they can rip the Australian taxpayer off, if people think that they can con the Australian taxpayer, then I’m sorry, the game’s up and we won’t allow people to take Australian taxpayers for a ride,” he told reporters.
“We are prepared to support people who are legitimate refugees but we aren’t going to support people who are just accessing welfare and taxpayer benefits and then refusing to provide any information in relation to their protection claim.”
Mr Dutton said Australia was one of the most generous countries when it came to resettling refugees, but would not be taken for a ride. “We are not going to allow, given the level of debt that our country is in, for more debt to be run up paying for welfare services, for people who are not genuine,” he said.
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