Amnesty International strongly condemns this afternoon’s appalling announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he will now refuse to resettle asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia.

“The new plans to resettle all asylum seekers that are found to be refugees in PNG shows not only a complete disregard for asylum seekers but absolute contempt for legal and moral obligations,” said Graeme McGregor, Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Campaign Coordinator.

“Mark this day in history as the day Australia decided to turn its back on the world’s most vulnerable people, closed the door and threw away the key”.

“This new plan completely deviates from any ‘solution’ that is acceptable under any standards. This is beyond belief. The Prime Minister has shown his willingness to pay any financial costs to bypass humanitarian obligations.

“Even if you choose to ignore the overheated, overcrowded conditions for asylum seekers in offshore detention centres, the numbers alone show it's increasingly expensive to house asylum seekers off the mainland, with the total cost already expected to reach $2.3 billion for the around 600 people currently on Manus and Nauru.

“A proposal for a regional approach could have been the light at the end of the tunnel, where countries have shared responsibility, offering some hope of a humane and effective approach to the issue across the region, but these hopes have been completely dashed.” Graeme McGregor added.