Paying asylum seekers to return home 'standard practice' for 10 years

Paying asylum seekers to return home 'standard practice' for 10 years

Paying asylum seekers who return home voluntarily has been standard practice for more than 10 years, the Federal Government says, amid reports some are being offered as much as $10,000 to return to their country of origin.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office will not confirm individual dollar figures, saying they are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Fairfax Media is reporting Lebanese asylum seekers have been given $10,000 to leave Australia's offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru and return home.

The reports say "return packages" for Iranians amount to $7,000, while Afghans are offered $4,000.

A total of 283 asylum seekers have voluntarily returned to their home countries since Operation Sovereign Borders commenced last September, a spokesperson for Mr Morrison said.

"Return packages are tailored to the circumstances of each case. The process of voluntary return is conducted in direct partnership with the International Organisation for Migration," the spokesperson said.

"It has been standard policy and practice for more than 10 years."

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles has accused the Government of hypocrisy.

"We don't need blank cheques, we need people being processed," he said.

"I would remind you that when Scott Morrison was in opposition, he opposed Labor's own reintegration packages and now he is offering sums which are triple the amount.

"In opposition Scott Morrison opposed the PNG arrangement and now it forms the heart of his own strategy.

"There is no bridge of hypocrisy that Scott Morrison will not cross."

Greens leader Christine Milne says the payments are wrong because returning asylum seekers could face persecution.

"The idea that you would put people in a hell hole like Manus Island, treat them abysmally and then try to bribe them to go back to the appalling circumstances they left shows just how morally bankrupt this Government is," she said.

"[Paying] people to go back to torture, to abuse, is disgraceful. There's no way you could describe this as voluntary."

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)