The Australian migration zone refers to the parts of Australian territory where a non-citizen must hold an Australian visa to legally enter and remain but still could apply for a protection visa on arrival. Prior to 2001, the Australian migration zone consisted of the mainland, plus some external territories, at the mean low water mark.〔(''Migration Act'' 1958, section 5 )〕 In September 2001, the ''Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) Act'' 2001〔(''Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) Act'' 2001 )〕 and the ''Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) (Consequential Provisions) Act'' 2001〔(''Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) (Consequential Provisions) Act'' 2001 )〕 ''excised'' certain external territories from the migration zone for purposes relating to unauthorised arrivals. The effect of this change was to limit the ability of "offshore entry persons" to make valid visa applications. The territories excised included Ashmore Island, Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, and Cocos Islands.
On 30 October 2012, the Labor party resolved to excise the entire Australian mainland from the migration zone, in order to remove any incentive for asylum seekers traveling from Indonesia to try to reach the mainland instead of the previously excised territories which are closer to Indonesia. The legislation to excise the mainland itself from the migration zone was passed by Parliament on 16 May 2013.〔http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2013A00035/Html/Text#_Toc356901685〕 Before the excise, asylum seekers who reached the mainland by boat could not be sent offshore to Australian immigration detention facilities on Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island for immigration processing.〔http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-16/parliament-excises-mainland-from-migration-zone/4693940〕
(詳細はAsylum seekers who land in an excised area of Australian territory may apply for refugee status with the UNHCR. However, Australia has no obligation to grant them a visa to settle permanently in Australia (as opposed to temporary protection) and they have no recourse to Australian courts.
The Acts also included the powers to move unauthorised arrivals to another country where their claim for protection could be considered. These changes allowed for thousands of asylum seekers to be moved to immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island, Nauru, and Manus Island.
In subsequent years the government excised many islands, sometimes attempting to do so retroactively after asylum seekers had already landed.
The excising of islands from the Australian migration zone remains a very controversial aspect of Australian immigration policy. Refugee advocates argue that Australia is not meeting its obligations under international law to protect refugees. This was not accepted by the Howard Government, which contended that international law obliged Australia to provide temporary protection only and not necessarily a permanent settlement.
However, the Rudd Government abolished the temporary protection visa scheme in 2008. The practice of diverting boat-borne arrivals to Christmas Island remained, effectively disallowing judicial review. In 2010, a landmark High Court ruling found that the processing procedures on Christmas Island were unlawful and unconstitutional.〔(''Plaintiff M69 of 2010 v Commonwealth of Australia & Ors'' ) () HCA 41〕 On 16 May 2013, Australian Senate passed a bill to excise entire Australian mainland from its migration zone.〔
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