Malaysian swap deal ruled unlawful

The federal government’s Malaysian people swap deal has been ruled unlawful by the High Court.

The court’s full bench handed down its decision on the lawfulness of the policy on Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Justice Robert French said the court ordered Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and his department be restrained from sending asylum seekers to Malaysia.

"The declaration made … was made without power and is invalid," Justice French said.

The government had wanted to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 already processed refugees.

Earlier, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the High Court decision won’t be a reflection of the merits of the policy.

"(Even) if the government is successful today in the High Court then that would basically just be an acknowledgment by the court that the minister has the power to make this decision," Mr Morrison told ABC Radio.

"It won’t be any reflection of whether it’s a good policy or a bad policy or whether it’s a policy that provides protection to refugees.

"It will simply be a decision by the court about the minister’s powers under the act."

Mr Morrison said the government would still be left with “the diabolical nature of the design of this policy”.

"If they fail to send every single person who turns up to Malaysia then they create an exception that people smugglers can market to put people on boats," he said.

"But … if they send children and unaccompanied minors to Malaysia that will put them in a position of great vulnerability."

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