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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 14:30 GMT
Australia 'might deny Jesus entry'
The Archbishop of Sydney has suggested that if Jesus tried to gain entry to Australia now, it is possible he would be denied asylum.

Perhaps as refugees, the family of Jesus would have been denied entry into Australia
Peter Jensen
Peter Jensen's comments were made in a statement harshly criticising the country's immigration policies ahead of a Christmas speech to Christian charity Anglicare in Sydney.

"With the apparent cloud over the paternity of Jesus, it is likely that he would have been a victim in our society," he said.

"Perhaps as refugees, the family of Jesus would have been denied entry into Australia."

Australia's asylum policies under the conservative government of John Howard are among the toughest in the developed world.

It discourages illegal immigration by intercepting boatloads of asylum seekers before they reach Australia, shipping them instead to the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea to have their claims assessed there.

Those who do make it to Australia are automatically detained in immigration centres in which they have their asylum applications processed.

Most are kept for a few months, but some can spend up to five years in detention.

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