Wednesday, 31 May 2023
Migration Amendment (Giving Documents and Other Measures) Bill 2023; Consideration in Detail
by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) as circulated in my name together:
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 3), omit the table item.
(2) Schedule 2, page 11 (line 1) to page 12 (line 4), omit the Schedule.
The coalition supports the first two changes to the act that the bill makes, but we have reservations on the third proposed change. The first two areas of the bill make relatively minor amendments to the Migration Act which will improve the operation of the act and reduce matters that go to the AAT or the Federal Court on minor technical matters. The third area basically reduces the workload of the minister and the department by removing the requirement for the minister to consider an application to allow someone to be able to lodge a protection visa application due to dual citizenship issues. The coalition cannot support this change as we believe it will have unintended consequences. Therefore, I have moved the amendment circulated in my name.
I note the bills digest prepared by the Parliamentary Library on the bill suggests that the provisions that the government are now trying to remove were introduced in 1999 by the enactment of the Border Protection Legislation Amendment Act 1999. The specific provisions were not included in the original bill but were put passed by the Senate with the support of the then Howard government and the opposition. As noted in ALP Senator Chris Schacht's second reading speech, the amendments were intended to prevent forum shopping by persons seeking to enter Australia. Senator Schacht said:
Clearly there is evidence emerging that forum shopping is about how people, with the assistance of people smugglers, try to make arrangements to end up in the country of their first desire, where they think would be the nicest place for them to go, and the place that would provide the best facilities and the best future. We cannot blame people for having that view; that is a natural human reaction. But when it gets to the stage where, in one form or another, the international and national procedures for dealing with refugees are being, if not abused, at least bent, so that countries like Australia are unnecessarily targeted, we have every right as a nation to make laws in respect of those arrangements.
This is reflected in section 91M of the Migration Act, which states that these provisions were enacted:
… because the Parliament considers that a non-citizen who can avail himself or herself of protection from a third country, because of nationality or some other right to re-enter and reside in the third country, should seek protection from the third country instead of applying in Australia for a protection visa …
When this amendment was introduced, the Labor Party supported it. Now they're seeking to remove it. If the government is not careful, undermining the strong border protection regime bit by bit will lead to a consequence that I think none of us in this place want to see, and that is the boats returning. So that is why we have moved those amendments in my name.
The government will not be accepting the amendments proposed by the shadow minister. I'll speak very briefly to that. I want to acknowledge he and his staff and other members of the crossbench have engaged in good faith on this bill which deals with some serious matters, including this aspect. I note and welcome the support of the opposition and, I believe, all members for the first two parts of this bill. In respect of the second part, I hear the concerns that have been expressed and will speak briefly to them knowing that there will be debate and further consideration in the other place.
Firstly, I think it is important that we all recognise that quite a bit has changed since 1999, particularly in respect of the circumstances of dual citizenship. More broadly, I think it is important to recognise and for me to put on the record that, of course, a protection visa application can still be refused for dual nationals who can avail themselves of protection from a third country because of nationality or some other right to re-enter and reside in that third country and, of course, section 36 of the Migration Act broadly provides that Australia does not have protection obligations in respect of a person who has a right to enter and reside in another country, including countries of which that person is a national. For these reasons, I commend the bill, unamended, to the House.