With the arrival of Christmas, the government is scrambling to keep the country’s asylum seeker population under control, with the latest numbers showing an increase in the number of people in detention centres.
Key points:The number of detainees in detention rose from 9,719 in September to 14,636 in December, a week after ChristmasThe number in detention increased from 6,811 in September, to 13,906 in DecemberKey points :The latest figures show an increase of more than 10,000 people in immigration detention centres in the first nine months of the yearMore than 5,200 people have been sent back to their countries of origin since the electionIn the first three months of 2017, there were 8,816 people in Australia on remand in detention.
This year, there have been 14,726 people in the same situation.
But it is the rise in numbers in detention that has raised concern.
“It’s the most significant jump we’ve seen in the last few months,” Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.
“There’s been a substantial increase in that period.”
Mr Morrison said it was too soon to say what the increase in numbers was about, but he said there were signs of a problem.
“This has been a dramatic increase,” he said.
“We have seen people being released and then being returned back to countries of refuge.”
That’s something that we are monitoring closely.
“I think that we’ll be able to give a pretty good assessment on what that is.”
The rise in people in offshore processing centresThe numbers of people currently in immigration processing centres in Australia have more than doubled since the last election.
Last year, the Government announced a plan to cut immigration detention numbers by about 15,000 over the next five years.
That plan was cut to 10,800 in December.
But in the week after the election, the number rose again to 17,842.
Mr Morrison acknowledged the increase was concerning.
“The Government is looking at all the options,” he told reporters.
“At the moment we’re looking at a number of options, but it’s a number that we’re certainly aware of and it’s something we’re taking a close look at.”
When we do that we will be able give a very, very careful assessment.
“Mr Turnbull said the Government would “take the best advice we can from the people that are in detention”.”
We will not be turning back people who have made a mistake in Australia,” he added.
The latest arrivals are being sent back by the Australian Federal Police to their home countries of destination, the AFP said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
In the wake of the election result, Mr Morrison announced that he would seek the advice of the High Court to seek a review of the Federal Government’s decision to stop processing people in processing centres.
The Prime Minister said he would consider the Government’s options “within a reasonable time” and would “continue to be focused on delivering on our commitment to cut the numbers”.”
I know there will be some who will say this is a tough decision, that it’s going to cost us our country, and I don’t accept that,” he later told Sky News.”
But I think this is the right thing to do.
“As I’ve said before, the best way to ensure we do this is to focus on the most vulnerable people in our society.”
But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the Federal Court had not yet issued an order on the matter.
“All we know is that the Federal Attorney-General is working with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to find out what the facts are,” he responded.
Mr Dutton’s comments came after Mr Morrison and Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash announced a deal on the issue.
Mr Cash said she had reached an agreement with the Government on the future of people who had been in offshore detention for less than three months, meaning those people would not be placed in processing.
The new agreement is aimed at protecting people from being sent to overseas processing centres, with no option to return to Australia.
Mr Abbott said the deal would “save lives”.
“It is about saving lives.
It’s about saving the lives of the people in these camps,” he announced.”
What the government has done is they have agreed to return people who haven’t been in custody for a period of three months to their country of origin.”
They are safe and sound in these facilities, they have jobs, they’re contributing to our economy, and they have a chance to start a new life.
“The deal, if it is implemented, would mean people who are not in detention will not need to be detained in a detention centre.
The Immigration Department has said it is not prepared to confirm what number of asylum seekers would be released to their respective home countries after the agreement is implemented.