The federal government continues to cop flak over its treatment of asylum seekers as a deadline looms for hundreds of people to claim protection in Australia.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has given thousands of asylum seekers who arrived by boat between late 2012 and early 2014 an October 1 deadline to “lodge it or leave.”
The government is concerned “fake refugees” are bleeding taxpayers of welfare dollars, and may have lived in the community for years without a proper analysis of their backgrounds.
Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim believes the deadline, which will expire this Sunday, is unreasonable and unfair.
Senator McKim claims the cut-off date continues a pattern of treating vulnerable people seeking asylum with contempt and cruelty.
“This is another sorry chapter in his long record of trying to overturn due process and the rule of law,” he told AAP on Thursday.
“We urge everyone potentially affected who has not yet received legal advice to contact the legal supports available as soon as they can.”
More than 6000 people have applied since the cut-off date was announced in May, but about 600 asylum seekers are yet to submit their paperwork.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre acting principal lawyer Noosheen Mogadam said those who had not yet lodged applications faced an uphill battle.
“They need to make themselves known and we will endeavour to assist them where we can,” Ms Mogadam told AAP.
The immigration department has indicated it will deal swiftly with those who do not apply, considering it an indication the person no longer intends to seek protection in Australia.
Those who do not apply and do not make arrangements to leave Australia may be detained and removed from the country.
Mr Dutton, who is in London for a series of counter-terror meetings, has been contacted for comment.
Labor immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann praised the lawyers who handled an influx of applications.
“For some asylum seekers, the Turnbull government only lifted the bar to make an application late last year and many have been on waiting lists to receive legal assistance,” Mr Neumann said.
“I commend those in the legal and not-for-profit sectors who have provided legal assistance and helped asylum seekers lodge their applications before the deadline.”