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Australia passes controversial immigration law amendment

world Updated: May 16, 2013 13:52 IST

PTI
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Australian senate today adopted a controversial amendment to the 'Migration Act', allowing people who arrive by boat to be processed at offshore facilities on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

The moves is aimed at discouraging asylum-seekers showing up on Australia's shore illegally through sea route.

Mainland Australia will now be out of the migration zone and all asylum-seekers who arrive anywhere in Australia will be eligible to be sent offshore, according to Australian Associated Press report.

The amendment was passed with the support of the ruling coalition.

The amendment was introduced by the former John Howard-led government tried in 2006, and has been criticised by the Greens party, which called it "a stain on national character".

Greens leader Christine Milne said, "the nation was horrified that a prime minister would seek to wipe Australia off the map. This legislation that we are debating here today is stain on our national character."

She recalled former Prime Minister Howard's failed attempt to pass the amendment in 2006. Australia was contravening the United Nation's refugee convention by discriminating against asylum seekers based on their mode of arrival, she said.

Under the 'Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012', mainland Australia will join Ashmore Island, Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, and Cocos Islands to be excluded from the migration zone.

The amended bill will now go to the lower house for a final approval.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, a total of 6036 passengers on 96 boats have arrived on Australia's shore this year. A majority of them are from Sri Lanka.