The Westminster attack and similar incidents elsewhere go to show that the Australian government's decision to refuse entry to some 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees last year over security fears was "prudent", an Australian minister said on Thursday (23 March).

"There are people we've excluded on national security grounds that we have not brought to our country and we never will," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said, noting that the assessments were made using intelligence from allies, including the US.

He went on to criticise the Labour Party, which he said "had advocated we should bring these people in very quickly and if we had done that we wouldn't have detected these people and I think there would have been significant consequences in our own country".

Dutton added that some of those rejected were part of 12,000 Syrian refugees being resettled in Australia in keeping with the commitment made by coalition allies that are fighting terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Pointing to the several terror attacks carried out by refugees living across Europe, the minister said such incidents justified the US-led coalition's decision to subject refugees to stringent security screening before approving their asylum requests.

"I think the tragic events in London and elsewhere demonstrate the government's approach was prudent," he noted. He said the government's cautionary approach would give confidence to the citizens about national security.

"We have brought people here who have passed security checks, and they will contribute significantly to Australian society.

World Refugee Day
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton cited the Westminster attack to justify the government's decision to refuse entry to 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees over security fears - File photo Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

"They will be good Australians they will work hard and they will educate our children — they are the migrants we want coming to our country," Dutton was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"The United States has significant intelligence holdings in relation to people coming out of the Middle East. There's a lot of work done with the Brits and Canadians as well but there are other partners we've worked with as well," he added.

"We have been stringent, we've been deliberately methodical in the way we've conducted because we don't want people coming into our country who pose a threat I want people here who are escaping violence not bringing violence here."