News National The lowdown on Shorten’s asylum seeker policy
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The lowdown on Shorten’s asylum seeker policy

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Bill Shorten will today move to head off a divisive ALP conference debate by unveiling the details of the party’s asylum seeker policy.

The asylum seeker plan will take a “humane and compassionate” approach to the issue, the Labor leader says.

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“This is an incredibly difficult issue for many people – I understand that,” Mr Shorten said.

“No one wants to see people drown at sea and I firmly believe this is the best way to avoid that happening again.”

Labor’s Left faction is due to meet today to consider a motion to ban boat turnbacks, but factional bosses remain split on the wording.

Mr Shorten’s decision to release the policy is likely to ease many concerns within the Left about a hardline approach mirroring that of the coalition.

A Labor government will support boat turnbacks provided it can be done safely, conceding that the Abbott government policy had stopped the flow of boats arriving on Australian shores.

It would also retain offshore processing and regional resettlement.

Labor would reinstate references to the UN refugees convention in the Migration Act, reversing a move by the coalition which the opposition says has undermined international law.

Funding totalling $450 million over three years would be provided to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for its work, especially in South East Asia and the Pacific.

Part of the former Malaysia agreement will be restored to allow for asylum seeker work rights in the region.

An independent children’s advocate will have access to all unaccompanied minors in detention and in the community, to ensure their interests are protected.

Child abuse in all onshore and offshore facilities would be mandatorily reported by law.

Labor would reinstate access to the Refugee Review Tribunal, and abolish independent assessment put in place by the coalition.

The 90-day rule would be restored to the Migration Act, compelling the immigration department to report on how many claims were processed on time.

By 2025, Labor will increase Australias annual humanitarian intake to 27,000 – almost double the current intake under the Abbott government of 13,750.

Temporary protection visas will be abolished, and the agreement of the Papua New Guinea and Nauru governments will be sought for independent oversight of their facilities.

The commonwealth ombudsman will be given the role of overseeing onshore facilities.