The Federal Government of Australia has begun transferring asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea - including women and children - but concedes there have been too many boat arrivals in the past few months to process all refugee claims offshore.
As a result, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says his department will begin releasing asylum seekers into the community on bridging visas, even if they arrived after the Government reintroduced offshore processing and the so called 'no advantage' test.
The Government will also expand its onshore detention network, by reopening the Pontville centre in southern Tasmania.
Late last night, a group of 19 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Iran were flown from Christmas Island to the Manus Island detention centre in PNG.
Australia yesterday sent 100 Sri Lankan men deemed not to be refugees back to their homeland, bringing to 426 the number involuntarily returned to Colombo in the past three months.