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The Federal Government is targeting “bad actors” taking advantage of Australia’s refugee protection system by lodging false asylum seeker claims and plans to make a dent in the “exponential backlog” of cases, as part of a new package of reforms.  

The $160 million package, announced on Thursday by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, has a three-prong approach designed to reform the protection visa system.  

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia will receive $58 million for additional judges to decide claims, with a further $48 million to boost legal assistance services to support applicants, and another $54 million to implement real-time priority processing of applications.  

“Crucially, these reforms will ensure that those found to be owed Australia’s protection will have access to quicker and fairer assessment of their claims, allowing them to rebuild their lives with certainty and stability,” Giles said.  

“Our protection system and the backlogs will take time to fix. But as a result of these investments, those in need of Australia’s protection will be provided certainty about their future sooner, allowing them to focus on building their lives in Australia, and those who are seeking to exploit the system and are applying simply to extend their stay in Australia will be swiftly refused.” 

The Nixon Review, released on Wednesday, looks at migrant worker exploitation and the measures needed to prevent, deter and sanction those who abuse Australia’s visa framework.  

The review found that people traffickers and others seeking to exploit migrants are taking advantage of the system, because some claims can take up to a decade, caused by delays in processing times. This means disingenuous people can live and work in Australia for the time.  

The Guardian reported this is due to a 2.4 year average processing time for claims, a further 3.6 years for merits review and three to five for judicial review.  

“The Nixon Review has unearthed a rampant lack of integrity in our migration system which went unchecked in the six years Peter Dutton was in charge of immigration,” Giles said. 

“This has come at a cost to people in genuine need of protection and to the broader Australian community. 

“Australians are rightly proud of our country’s generous refugee program which assists those who are fleeing persecution and need Australia’s protection. The Albanese Government will not stand back and allow people traffickers and other bad actors to exploit vulnerable migrants and undermine the integrity of that program.”