On July 19, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd unveiled a new "hardline" asylum seeker policy, announcing all asylum seekers who arrive by boat, without a visa, would be sent to Papua New Guinea and would never be settled in Australia.
The government says its aim is to cut down on deaths at sea and to ensure that the 20,000 places on offer in Australia each year go to those in refugee camps and registered with United Nations authorities.
It's the latest move in an asylum-seeker policy that has faced many changes and challenges since the then prime minister John Howard first introduced the so-called 'Pacific Solution' in 2001.
The Pacific solution involved processing on Manus Island and Nauru, and it was dismantled when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd won office in 2007.
He was replace by Julia Gillard, whose government later signed a deal with Malaysia for a refugee swap, which was struck down by Australia's High Court.
In 2012, an expert panel assembled to examine the issue recommended offshore processing be reopened in Manus Island and Nauru.
It is estimated that more than a thousand asylum seekers have died in or near Australian waters in recent years.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is rejecting the plan as a solution to the asylum-seeker issue.
"This particular deal is unravelling before our eyes," he said.
"It's not legally binding and it does not say what Mr Rudd says it says."
Greens Leader Christine Milne has described the introduction of the 'PNG Solution' as a "day of shame".
"This is really an appalling performance from our for the nation and it really does say to the rest of the world that Australia is a very rich country which is prepared to pass the buck to a very poor country," she said.
The asylum-seeker policies of the major parties are expected to be one of the key issues in the forthcoming Federal election.
Read more about the major parties' asylum-seeker policies
Papua New Guinea
The new plan presented by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd aims to provide such a deterrent that asylum seekers stop trying to come.
In what is probably a world first, the Australian Government says those who try to reach Australia by boat won't be eligible for resettlement here.
Under the deal signed by Mr Rudd and his PNG counterpart Peter O'Neill, all asylum seekers who arrive by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and settlement.
Mr Rudd says those found not to be refugees will be sent back to their own nations or a third country.
Read the agreement here
He says the deal with PNG is aimed at stopping "the scourge of people smuggling".
- Asylum seekers who arrive by boat will never be settled in Australia
- They will be sent to Manus Island or elsewhere in PNG for assessment
- Genuine refugees will be resettled in PNG
- The agreement will be in place for at least the next 12 months
- There will be no cap on the number of refugees to be settled in PNG
- Manus Island detention centre to be expanded to house 3,000, up from its original capacity of 600
"I understand this is a very hard-line decision. I understand the different groups in Australia and around the world will see this decision in different ways," he said.
"But our responsibility as a government is to ensure we have a robust system of border security and orderly migration on the one hand, as well as fulfilling our legal and compassionate obligations under the Refugees' Convention on the other."
Mr O'Neill says he strongly believes genuine refugees can be resettled in his nation.
"I believe that the processing centre and the resettlement arrangements that we are forging will enable us to have an orderly processing of citizens, of people who are seeking genuine citizenship of other countries in the region," he said
"That is why we agreed to a resettlement program where we believe strongly that genuine refugees can be... resettled in our country and within the region in the years to come."
In return, Australia will provide ongoing assistance to Papua New Guinea, to help develop hospitals, the university sector, and to help provide education and law and order.
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The PNG policy was announced at the same time as a peaceful protest at Australia's other regional processing centre, on the island of Nauru, escalated into a riot that caused $60 million in damage and left four people hospitalised.
An Immigration Department spokeswoman says detainees burned buildings to the ground, including the accommodation blocks, which can house 600 people.
The health centre and the dining room were also destroyed.
- Nauru detention centre burnt to ground during riot at cost of $60m
- Nearly all of 540 asylum seekers housed on the island were involved
- Asylum seekers not yet charged because papers were destroyed in fire
- Some could be charged with arson, which carries a maximum life sentence
- Emergency equipment and medical supplies have been flown to Nauru
The government in Nauru says 80 per cent of the island detention centre's buildings were destroyed in the riot.
There are 545 male detainees at Nauru, and 129 have been identified as involved in the riot.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke says those responsible will be subject to the criminal laws of Nauru and could face severe penalties.
He has hinted that he could cancel or refuse a visa for those involved in the riots on the grounds of character.
The Immigration Department says the riot was not a reaction to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's announcement, although at least one eyewitness says it contributed to the anger.
As another part of the new policy, Indonesia has also agreed to a request from Kevin Rudd to make it harder for people from Iran to enter the country in order to travel to Australia by boat.
Indonesian justice minister Amir Syamsuddin has signed a letter - in effect a ministerial decree - that will stop Iranians being able to obtain a visa on arrival when they fly to Indonesia.
At the end of June, 12 per cent of people registered with the UN's refugee agency in Indonesia were from Iran.
- Indonesian minister signs decree that stops Iranians obtaining visa on arrival.
- Currently, Iranians can obtain 30-day visas in Indonesia for $25.
- The decree follows a request from PM Kevin Rudd during recent talks on asylum seekers.
- Figures show that 12pc of refugees registered with UN in Indonesia were Iranian.
Indonesia correspondent Helen Brown says Iran is the only major source country that has access to Indonesia's 30-day visa system, while Sri Lanka and Afghanistan do not.
"[An] official did make note that they've noticed in Indonesia that more Iranians are coming in and using this system of visa on arrival and that has become a concern to them. They're worried that it is in fact being misused," she said.
"We also know that in Indonesia around the end of June there were just over 8,000 registered with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and of that 12 per cent were from Iran.
"So that's around 990 ... you have 990 Iranians who are registered in Indonesia seeking placement to another country."
Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia is looking for another Pacific nation to host an offshore asylum seeker processing centre in addition to those already located in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
Senator Carr says it is up to Pacific nations to volunteer to help Australia and not for him to "twist anyone's arms" to demand they participate.
"If, as it develops with Papua New Guinea, it appeals to other nations in the Pacific to talk to us about them participating, then we stand ready to engage with them," he said.
He says it is already on the record that Australia wants to talk to other nations in the Pacific about the regional resettlement arrangement.
"I'm not here to attempt to twist anyone's arms or to mount a case," he said.
"If other nations in the Pacific see the value in what we're doing, especially as they participate in conferences and discussions about the impact of human trafficking and people smuggling, then we stand ready to talk to them about it.
"Other leaders in the Pacific, can observe that our relationship with Papua New Guinea on regional resettlement works to the advantage of both Australia and PNG, and to the advantage of a more regular and human migration program, enabling Australia to do the things we want to do.
"That is, end the practice of people smugglers causing these disasters at sea, and enabling us to consider expanding further our humanitarian intake, drawing people from the camps around the world where they want a chance to come to Australia by regular means."