Australian High Commission


Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen's statement on first transfer to Nauru

The Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced on 14 September the successful first transfer of irregular maritime arrivals to the Pacific island nation of Nauru, where they will be processed.

A group of 30 Sri Lankan single adult men departed Christmas Island at 9.20pm EST Thursday on a charter aircraft, escorted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and medical staff. They arrived in Nauru at 7.44am EST on September 14.

“The first transfer to Nauru has taken place smoothly, sending a strong deterrence message to anyone considering risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys,” Mr Bowen said.

“The message for people smugglers and asylum seekers in the region is clear: if you arrive in Australia by boat you can be taken from Australia by aeroplane and processed in another country.

“This is in line with the Australian Government’s policy of establishing ‘No Advantage’ for asylum seekers who arrive by boat compared to those refugees waiting in camps in our region and beyond.”

There are no blanket exemptions to the Australian Government’s offshore processing policy: it applies to all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat.

Selection of this first group was based on operational issues and an assessment of their particular circumstances to confirm transfer was appropriate.

On arrival in Nauru, as is usual for people entering a foreign country, transferees were subject to relevant immigration, customs and quarantine clearance processes. They will now be settled into their accommodation at the temporary facility and go through induction processes.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian and Nauruan governments was signed on August 29. Accommodation and other facilities at Nauru have now been established and Nauru is designated as a ‘regional processing country’ under the new provisions of the Australian Migration Act 1958.

Transfers will now continue to take place regularly.

Mr Bowen said the government was committed to implementing the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers’ key principle related to a strategic, comprehensive and integrated policy approach that provides no advantage to people choosing to travel to Australia by boat.