PM questions Iranian refugee claims

Published: 17 May 2017


The refugees returned to Iran on holiday after previously claiming they were subject to persecution there

PM Malcolm Turnbull has concerns regarding the six Iranian refugees

Image: AAP Image/Dan Peled 2017

Malcolm Turnbull is concerned six Iranian refugees have been allowed to stay in Australia after holidaying in the country they fled out of fear for their lives.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal reportedly has overturned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's decision to cancel their visas and deport them.

The prime minister said Mr Dutton was reviewing the cases and considering his next step.

'But, plainly, people who are claiming that they are subject to persecution in Iran but are travelling back on holidays there, clearly that is not a credible claim,' Mr Turnbull told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

'I absolutely understand (people's concerns) and so does the government.'

Mr Dutton has refused to comment on the specific case, but said these instances make Australians angry.

'I don't want to comment specifically on those six cases because I might be a decision maker in relation to those cases,' he told Sky News.

'Where people are taking Australian taxpayers for a ride the I think people get very angry, we are a very generous nation, we provide safety and refuge to people who are facing persecution but people who comes here to abuse the welfare system Australians won't cop that and nor should they.'

Australia, bound by international conventions, can't send people back to a country where they face persecution.

The federal government has deported between 500 and 600 people over the past year, including 136 bikies in the last 18 months.

Outlaw motorcycle gang members have been the top targets, with sexual offenders also a priority.

Six people involved in Melbourne's Apex gangs have had their visas cancelled, with seven others under review.

'These are serious offenders - people who have committed rapes, people who have committed armed robberies,' Mr Dutton said.

Mr Dutton admitted to being frustrated with the lengthy and costly appeals process, following reports 39 per cent of his decisions or those by delegates have been overturned by the AAT in the past year.

He suggested the independent tribunal, whose members are appointed by the government of the day, is influenced by politics.

The government has not renewed the tenure of some members who were appointed during the Rudd-Gillard years, and made some fresh appointments.