New refugee laws will deny child rights

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has made a deal with the Palmer United Party to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visa’s (TPVs) for asylum seekers. These will be known as the Safe Haven Enterprise visa.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on September 25.


The government’s bill introduced on September 25 will not just reestablish TPVs. In sweeping changes to definitions and processing arrangements, the minister is trying to use the legislation to undermine human rights and remove appeal rights for asylum seekers.

The legislation also attempts to change the laws to avoid existing legal challenges over the powers of the Maritime Powers Act to hijack and detain asylum seekers on the high seas as well as to deny rights to children born in Australia to be considered Australian citizens.

The new legislation makes dramatic alterations to the Refugee Review Tribunal processes that will enshrine screening out processes through which asylum seekers are administratively prevented from having their asylum claims processed.

Morrison is even removing references to the Refugee Convention from the Migration Act. The “Explanatory Memorandum” that accompanies the Bill says: “[It will] remove most references to the Refugees Convention from the Migration Act and replace them with a new statutory framework which articulates Australia’s interpretation of its protection obligations under the Refugees Convention”.

In particular the government is obviously concerned that the High Court hearing on October 14 and 15 will find that the government’s kidnapping and removal of the 157 Tamils to Nauru was unlawful.

It seems also to be concerned that a court hearing regarding whether or not children born in Australia but whose parents are incarcerated on Nauru will be found to be Australian citizens or owed protection by Australia.

The Memorandum states “with retrospective effect, that children born to transitory persons either in Australia or in a regional processing country are also transitory persons for the purposes of the Migration Act” and can be removed to “a regional processing country”.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul said: “This Bill must be stopped. This omnibus bill is not just about temporary protection visas; it is an attempt to fundamentally change the rights of asylum seekers and to remove human rights’ obligations that Australia has under international treaties,” said

[Refugee rallies are being held in Sydney and Melbourne on October 11. For more informtaion, please visit Refugee Action Coalition.]

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