Peter Dutton has fanned fears Afghan interpreters seeking safety in Australia may have switched allegiances to the Taliban.
The defence minister is under growing pressure over delays in processing visa applications as the security situation in Afghanistan rapidly deteriorates.
Hundreds of Afghan interpreters, contractors and security guards who worked for Australia are seeking protection as the Taliban reclaims control of the country.
Graphic videos have emerged of Taliban tactical and military commanders conducting brutal and bloody reprisals following the departure of allied troops.
Mr Dutton said Australia needed to be wary about which Afghans were allowed into the country.
“We will bend over backwards as we’ve done to support those people who have helped our defence personnel out but it’s not a blanket approval process,” he told 2GB radio on Thursday.
“Somebody who was loyal and faithful to us in 2012 or 2013 might now be friends with the Taliban or switched allegiances.”
The minister also raised concerns about the scope of some applications.
“There are applicants that have made their application to include extended family members,” he said.
“Now, we don’t do that. We are not taking cousins and great aunts and the rest of it. It is immediate family.”
Mr Dutton raised the hypothetical prospect of bringing somebody out with question marks over their security, only for the individual to commit a terrorist attack in five or 10 years.
“People would rightly condemn us and we’re just not going to compromise on the checks and balances we have got in place,” he said.
The minister has previously made similar arguments about Lebanese people brought to Australia after a civil war in the 1970s.
“Let’s learn from the mistakes we made in the past and make sure we continue to have an intake through the migration program that is in our country’s best interests,” Mr Dutton said.
“We are generous, that’s the reality, and we provide support to those people that have protected and saved the lives of our diggers.
“But in some of those cases, where those people pose a security threat, they are not coming to our country.”