Senate debates

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Migration Amendment (Abolishing Detention Debt) Bill 2009

In Committee

1:05 pm

Photo of Steve FieldingSteve Fielding (Victoria, Family First Party) Share this | Hansard source

I would seek leave to move amendments (1), (2), and (3) together but technically I cannot combine them. So I seek leave to move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 5845 revised. I will not move amendment (3) if amendments (1) and (2) do not get through.

Leave granted.

I move Family First amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 5845 revised:

(1)    Schedule 1, Parts 1 to 3, page 4 (line 2) to page 9 (line 29), omit the Parts, substitute:

Migration Act 1958

1  After section 214


214A  Liability ceases for refugees

        (1)    If a person is assessed to be a refugee for the purposes of the Refugees Convention as amended by the Refugees Protocol, any immigration detention liability incurred under one or more of the provisions specified in subsection (2) ceases from the time the assessment is made.

        (2)    The provisions specified for the purposes of subsection (1) are:

             (a)    section 209, 211, 262 or 264, or subsection 151(3) or 213(3), of the Migration Act 1958;

             (b)    an undertaking or obligation prescribed by regulations made for the purposes of subsection 140H(1) of that Act;

             (c)    an arrangement referred to in paragraph 145(c), 146(1)(b), 147(c) or 148(c) of that Act;

             (d)    any other instrument.

2  Application

The amendment made by item 1 applies in respect of any liability of the kind referred to in subsection 214A(1) which exists at, or is incurred after, the commencement of this Schedule, whether the assessment referred to in that subsection is made before or after this Schedule commences.

(2)    Clause 2, page 2 (table item 2), omit “, Part 1”.

We have had a fair bit of debate on this issue. The distinction I am making is between refugees and those people who have actually stayed here illegally. Mr Evans went through some of those categories. But the key thing is that it is a principle. Refugees should have their debt wiped. I agree with the government on that issue. I do not have a problem with that and I have made quite clear in my speech the distinction for refugees. The issue is those people who are illegally in Australia and are caught and put into detention. It could be for a criminal activity. Even overstaying a visa is a criminal activity, I suppose. I do not think that that debt should be wiped. It is a principle. I understand the issues of cost and of chasing it. I think that it is a principle that we need to hold on. So I seek the support of others in the chamber for these amendments, which say that the liability ceases for refugees, but anyone who is not a refugee would therefore have that liability remain. The way it operates at the moment would continue for those people. I urge senators to consider it and support it.


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