House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018; Second Reading

12:15 pm

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 is an omnibus bill that makes a number of amendments to the Migration Act, the Customs Act, and the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act.

Schedule 1 of the bill will amend the Migration Act to ensure that, when an attempt is made to remove an unlawful noncitizen from our country, that noncitizen does not enter the destination country and is instead returned to Australia, the noncitizen can be returned to Australia without a visa. In addition, they will be treated as if they had never left Australia for the purposes of the visa application bars imposed by sections 48 and 48A of the Migration Act.

Currently the Migration Act allows an unlawful noncitizen who has been removed from Australia to return without a visa, if the unlawful noncitizen was refused entry into the destination country. The Migration Act does not currently allow for the return without a visa of a noncitizen who we have attempted to remove from Australia in other circumstances where it may be necessary. For example, there is no facility to return a person to Australia without a visa, if a transit country refuses to allow the removed person to transit or if the United Nations Human Rights Committee makes an interim measures request that the removal not be completed. The amendments in schedule 1 to this bill will address this inconsistency.

Similarly, the current law provides that, when a noncitizen is returned to Australia without a visa because they were refused entry to the destination country, the bars on making further applications imposed by sections 48 and 48A of the Migration Act will continue to apply as if they had never left Australia. The amendments will ensure that the same rule applies to a noncitizen who is returned to Australia without a visa in any circumstance covered by these amendments.

Schedule 2 of the bill will amend the Migration Act to make it clear that the department can provide correspondence to a person by making it available through their online account.

The bill represents another step in the government's Digital Transformation Agenda, by permitting the department to make greater use of its online facilities. Already, visa applicants can provide visa applications and additional information to the department by uploading that information into the person's online account in the department's online system. However, the current provisions in the act for giving documents to visa applicants and other persons do not clearly allow documents to be given through the department's online account system. This bill corrects that by adding this additional communication method to those already available to the department.

Schedule 3 of the bill will insert a new power into the Customs Act to enable the department to refund duty or drawback of duty in circumstances where a person has been paid a refund or drawback they were not entitled to. This amendment is proposed in order to reduce the risk of breaching section 83 of the Commonwealth Constitution which may result from refunds and drawbacks of duty being made otherwise than in accordance with legislation.

Schedule 4 of this bill amends the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act to introduce a new head of power that will allow the department to recover the merchant fees that it incurs where a person pays passenger movement charges with a credit card.

Schedule 5 of the bill makes minor technical amendments to sections 58A and 208DA of the Customs Act to ensure these provisions operate as originally intended.

I recommend the bill.

Debate adjourned.