Australia is not giving a green light to people smugglers by moving asylum seekers off Nauru, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne says.
Dozens of children remaining on the pacific island will be removed by the end of this year, but will never be allowed to settle permanently in Australia.
Mr Pyne has rejected suggestions people smugglers could be encouraged by the relocations.
“We have stopped the people smuggling trade and I hope it never starts again,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.
“We have a very carefully managed program to ensure that everyone is eventually out of detention and we’ve done very well at doing so.”
A number of families have already been transferred off Nauru and are reportedly being housed in Adelaide.
But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has insisted none of them will ever call Australia home, even if they are found to be genuine refugees, in an effort to keep people smuggling at bay.
It is understood 38 children of asylum seekers remain on the island.
Once medical support has been provided in Australia, non-refugees will be made to go back to their country of origin.
Refugees will be sent to the United States or resettled in other countries, Mr Dutton said.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese says he is glad the coalition is “finally responding” to calls from health experts to get children off the island, but wants it to be clearer about how that is being done.
“They need to be a little bit more transparent about it,” he told the Nine Network.
A future Labor government would also block the asylum seekers from ever permanently settling in Australia.
Human Rights Law Centre advocacy director Daniel Webb plans to launch legal challenges to keep the children in Australia once they arrive, but says the government is finding ways to get them to return.