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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 5.40 GMT
Hunger strikes won't change govt's asylum policies Aus PM


Asylum seekers going on hunger strike won't succeed in pressuring the government to change its policies, Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said.

''The first point to make is it doesn't get you anywhere, doesn't get you a changed outcome,'' she said.

The Australian Prime Minister was commenting on a group of 27 asylum seekers on hunger strike at a Melbourne detention centre.

While the Immigration Department won't comment on why the detainees are on strike, it is believed they have been granted refugee status but have had their release into the community refused due to adverse Australian security assessments.

Prime Minister Gillard on Monday stressed the importance of assessing would-be refugees on security grounds.

"We've got duties and obligations to the nation here in terms of properly assessing who's a refugee and making appropriate security assessments," she told ABC Radio.

"You do not change your circumstance as an asylum seeker or a refugee with an adverse security assessment through hunger striking," she said.

Meanwhile, the asylum seekers who arrived on a boat at the West Australian port of Geraldton will soon learn if any of them will be sent back to Sri Lanka, Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said.

Last week, a boat with 66 Sri Lankan asylum seekers reached Geraldton port after a voyage of more than 5,000km.

O'Connor said the government has made it "very clear" if the asylum seekers fail to meet the requirements of the United Nations Refugee Convention, they will be sent home.

"Very shortly, we will make an announcement about returning people home who are not refugees if that is the case," he told Sky News on Tuesday.





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Last modified: April 17, 2013.

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