ScoMo tells UN to steer clear of our border control

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will boycott a United Nations agreement on migration that would put pressure on Australia to close its immigration detention centres which the UN claims are "cruel, inhumane and degrading'' and in breach of international human rights law.

Mr Morrison will follow the United States, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic in refusing to sign the Global Compact for Migration, which will be voted on at the UN's intergovernmental conference in Morocco next month.

Mr Morrison said he would not sign up to an international agreement that threatened our strong border protection policies.

"I'm not going to sign up to an agreement that I believe will only be used by those who have always tried to tear our stronger border policies down," Mr Morrison said.

"We must always decide on these issues and not have our laws undermined by outside influences."

The Prime Minister is standing firm on migration policy and border control. Picture: Christian Gilles
The Prime Minister is standing firm on migration policy and border control. Picture: Christian Gilles

Mr Morrison said signing up to the agreement would risk reigniting the people-smuggling trade.

"The Compact fails to adequately distinguish between people who enter Australia illegally and those who come to Australia the right way, particularly with respect to the provision of welfare and other benefits," he said.

"The Compact would risk encouraging illegal entry to Australia and reverse Australia's hard-won successes in combating the people smuggling trade."

Since the draft text of the migration agreement was released in July, the Federal Government had been negotiating changes, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had warned Australia would not sign it unless there were major changes, declaring he would not outsource border protection policy to the United Nations.

Federal Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Picture: AAP
Federal Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Picture: AAP

At the time, human rights advocates said the Federal Government was trying to escape oversight.

But Mr Dutton said it was a matter of border security.

"Our Government fought hard to clean up Labor's border and boats mess,'' he said.

"We fought too hard to stop the deaths at sea and remove kids in detention and we aren't going to have our tough stance compromised by any other country."

The United Nations agreement said immigration detention should be used only as a measure of last resort and that countries should work towards alternatives.

It seeks a commitment to "review and revise relevant legislation, policies and practices related to immigration detention to ensure that migrants are not detained arbitrarily, that decisions to detain are based on law, are proportionate, have a legitimate purpose."

It also says that immigration detention should not be "promoted as a deterrent or used as a form of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment to migrants, in accordance with international human rights law."