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On 31 October 2012, the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, announced a legislation that would excise the entire continent from the migration zone. Currently, asylum seekers that reach mainland Australia cannot be sent offshore for processing. In contrast, asylum seekers that arrive to areas like Christmas, Ashmore and Cartier Islands (excised from the migration zone in September 2001) can be transferred to offshore locations for processing. Therefore, if the legislation passes, all asylum seekers will be stripped from their legal rights to remain in the country for the period of processing.
This step is taken to reduce the number of asylum seekers arriving to the country and was included in the recommendations of an expert panel led by Angus Houston, the former defence force chief. While several members of parliament have stated their opposition against the new legislation, its supporters have won a caucus on 30th October 2012.
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