Dutton details use of discretionary powers

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton used discretionary powers 10 times relating to the Tamil family.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton used discretionary powers 10 times relating to the Tamil family.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says he's used his powers to resettle boat-arriving asylum seekers three times, but only in very specific circumstances.

Advocates are calling on the Morrison government to allow a Tamil family, currently on Christmas Island awaiting a court decision on their future, to stay in Australia rather than be deported to Sri Lanka.

Mr Dutton has already used ministerial discretion 10 times in relation to the family, which enabled such things as their removal from detention and placement in the community, work rights and the ability of children to go to school.

However, he has not gone as far as enabling them to stay in Australia.

Asked on Sky News on Thursday whether he had ever allowed any boat arrivals to remain in Australia, he said: "Yes I have."

Mr Dutton gave the examples of two interpreters who helped Australian defence forces in the Middle East and a "stateless orphan" who were resettled.

"It needs to be in a very specific set of circumstances," he said.

"But we've said as a rule if you come by boat you aren't settling in Australia."

In the case of the translators, there were "real issues in returning that person back because they may well face certain death etc", Mr Dutton said.

"But in relation to a family with similar facts to this one, never."

Australian Associated Press