The independent Tasmanian MP has sent the application, naming the prime minister, Tony Abbott, and his 19-member cabinet, including the immigration minister, Scott Morrison.
“In my application I have particularly named crimes against humanity, such as the forced relocation of people, obviously to the Republic of Nauru or Papua New Guinea,” Wilkie said.
He also claims that the government’s hardline immigration policies contravene the Refugee Convention, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
It is unclear whether the ICC prosecutor will take up the case but if it proceeds Abbott and Morrison could be called to testify.
Wilkie said he had hoped not to take such drastic action against the government, but said he was forced to because of an “absence of movement” on the issue.
“I’ve tried repeatedly in the House of Representatives, refugee advocates have tried and tried and tried,” Wilkie said. “Things have deteriorated, really, as far as the government’s asylum seeker policy goes. This is the next step to take.”
The Coalition has consistently argued that its offshore processing and resettlement policies have stopped people attempting to arrive in Australia by boat.
“There have been no deaths at sea since last year compared with over 300 missing, confirmed or presumed deaths at sea in the year prior to Operation Sovereign Borders under the Labor government,” Morrison wrote in a press release issued to mark the first anniversary of the controversial policy.
Wilkie acknowledged that the policy has “saved a few lives at our border”, but said that came “at the expense of a lot of lives elsewhere”.
Labor introduced the PNG offshore settlement policy before last year’s federal election.
Guardian Australia has sought a response from the offices of the prime minister, immigration minister and opposition spokesman for immigration.