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Pre-crackdown detained children likely to get bridging visas

ONE-HUNDRED and fifty of the 876 children in detention are likely to be released into the community on bridging visas by the end of the year while their claims for asylum are being assessed.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says these children, most of whom are aged under 10, arrived in Australia and offshore processing centres before the introduction of the new laws in mid-July last year.

The same courtesy will not be extended to other minors being held in detention centres or the 94 babies born in Australia to asylum seekers after the 19 July, 2013 deadline.

"The policy of offshore resettlement has been critical, along with and most importantly, turning back boats where it's safe to do so and not providing permanent visas," Mr Morrison said.

"That's what's stopping the children coming on the boats. It's important we get those who are in detention on the mainland out of detention, but I certainly don't want children getting on boats and Customs officers and Navy officers having to go back to the gruesome task of saving children in the water, and in the worst cases - getting corpses out of the water."

Mr Morrison will front the human rights inquiry into children in detention on Friday. The Inquiry has already heard evidence of detained children trying to self-harm by swallowing detergents and putting bags over their heads and of an attempted government cover-up of evidence that children held in these camps were suffering mental illness brought on by their confinement.

But Mr Morrison held firm when pressed on the humanitarian concession of freeing all children from detention centres.

" I'm not going to put in place policy that's going to encourage children to get on boats because when children get on boats they die on boats, and I don't think that's a very good humanitarian outcome," he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also reaffirmed the government's strong stance on asylum seekers saying they would not reconsider sending children from Christmas Island and Nauru to the Australian mainland.

"Our position is in that respect similar to the former government - don't come to Australia illegally by boat because even if you get here you'll never stay here," he said on 4BC yesterday.

"We have no intention of resettling anyone in Australia who has come to this country illegally by boat after, I think, July of last year."

The UN Refugee Convention to which Australia is a signatory recognises that refugees have a right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents so asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are not engaging in illegal activity.

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