Thursday, 25 March 2021
Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Bill 2021; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
The Migration Amendment (Clarifying International Obligations for Removal) Bill 2021 amends the Migration Act to clarify that, in line with Australia's international obligations relating to non-refoulement, the removal power in the Migration Act does not require or authorise removal of a person where they have been assessed as engaging those obligations.
Furthermore, the bill improves our ability to assess if a person engages protection obligations, regardless of whether or not they fail to satisfy other criteria for the grant of a protection visa.
Australia is party to many treaties which uphold human rights. Non-refoulement obligations arise under:
Under these treaties, Australia has an obligation not to return individuals to situations where they face: persecution; a real risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; arbitrary deprivation of life; or the application of the death penalty.
We take these obligations very seriously.
However, a number of court decisions have made it clear that section 197C, which was inserted to limit successful injunctions to prevent removal where a person has been assessed as not engaging protection obligations, also operates to require removal where the person has been assessed as engaging those obligations.
This is quite obviously not reflective of the original intent of section 197C under the Migration Act.
This bill seeks to address this disconnect by making it clear that the Migration Act does not require or authorise the removal of a person to a country in relation to which the person has been assessed in the statutory protection visa process as facing persecution or a real risk of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary deprivation of life or the application of the death penalty. This change will improve our nation's ability to uphold human rights.
But this bill goes one step further. It does not just clarify that we are not obliged to remove a person in breach of our international obligations. It improves our ability to ensure that people who lodge valid protection visa applications will have their protection claims assessed in all cases.
Under the current Migration Act, a person seeking Australia's protection can lodge an application for a protection visa unless they are barred from doing so. But where those applicants fail certain criteria, it is possible under the Migration Act for the person's protection visa application to be refused without those protection claims being considered.
Under the amendments proposed by this bill, a person who has lodged a valid protection visa application will alwayshave their protection claims assessed.
This is an important change which will further improve our ability to ensure that we uphold Australia's non-refoulementobligations. It is essential that Australia sends a strong message that we are committed to upholding human rights, and that we remain steadfast in our commitment to these treaties and their underlying principles.
This bill protects the integrity of Australia's migration framework and it deserves the support of all members. It does present an opportunity for those within this parliament to stand up and demonstrate their ongoing commitment to human rights by ensuring that we are not obliged to remove a person from Australia where that removal would be in breach of non-refoulement obligations, and by ensuring that those who lodge a valid protection visa application can always have their claims assessed.
I commend this bill to the House.