The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Nick Bolkus, gained cabinet support for stopping repeat applications for refugee status to stop the removal of non-citizens and circumvent immigration requirements.
He told cabinet in December 1994 that the previous year, 1631 people had application for refugee status granted while 11,121 were rejected and the ill-founded applications were clogging up the system, preventing genuine refugees being dealt with expeditiously.
Mr Bolkus, in a censored report, said 34 per cent of boat arrivals lodged repeat applications.
Cabinet agreed to amend the Migration Act 1959 to place a complete bar on repeat applications for protection visas.
Mr Bolkus noted such legislation would be criticised by refugee interest groups for putting in breach of international obligations with regard to refoulement.
But good international citizenship had many dimensions: the government increased its humanitarian aid to United Nations operations in Rwanda in July 1994 by an additional $6.5 million.
Ministers were advised that the medical assistance provided with those funds would focus on supporting other UN contingents rather than serving refugee centres: there might be questions on this focus, given that “the atrocities of recent weeks” had only made the plight of refugees more urgent.
In agreeing to provide peacekeeping support to monitor a ceasefire in Bougainville, ministers also agreed that public presentations should make clear that assumed no responsibility for the outcome of negotiations which were judged to have a limited likelihood of success given local turmoil and continuing political instability in Papua New Guinea.
Conversely, while the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces were judged to suffer from a range of weaknesses – from poor training to endemic corruption – should at least provide defence assistance to a government emerging from “decades of horrendous violence”.
Indonesia was judged a much more robust partner, but ministers were still advised the Security Agreement that Prime Minister Paul Keating and Foreign Minister Gareth Evans secured with the Suharto government in late 1995 was likely to have some “sensitivity” among ns still outraged by Indonesian policy in East Timor, or those who still considered that country a threat to ‘s security