Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bills

Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012; In Committee

7:36 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move Greens amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 7266:

( 1 ) Schedule 1 , item 25 , page 6 (lines 26 to 29) , omit subsection 198AB ( 2 ), substitute:

(2) The only conditions for the exercise of the power under subsection (1) are that the Minister:

(a) thinks that it is in the national interest to designate the country to be a regional processing country; and

(b) is satisfied that the country has in place appropriate protection and welfare arrangements that are consistent with Australia’s, and the country’s, obligations under international law (including the Refugees Convention).

[protection and welfare arrangements]

( 2 ) Schedule 1 , item 25 , page 7 (after line 13) , after subsection 198AB ( 4 ), insert:

(4A) For the purposes of subsection (2), the country has in place appropriate protection and welfare arrangements if:

(a) the protection and welfare arrangements in place in the country include arrangements to ensure that a person taken to the country under section 198AD:

(i) will be treated in a manner consistent with human rights standards under international law, including by not being subject to arbitrary detention; and

(ii) will have appropriate accommodation; and

(iii) will have access to appropriate physical and mental health services; and

(iv) will have access to educational and vocational training programs; and

(v) will be provided with assistance in preparing any asylum claim or visa application; and

(vi) in respect of any asylum claim or visa application made by the person, will have access to an appeal mechanism that affords natural justice to the person; and

(b) the protection and welfare arrangements in place in the country are monitored by a body consisting of representatives of Australia and the country.

These amendments relate directly to the requirements as outlined by the Houston panel that for any refugee or asylum seeker to be transferred to another country by Australia certain protections and operational guidelines must be included. Maybe it is just an oversight that these guidelines were not included in the legislation. We keep hearing from the government that they are implementing the Houston report. The Houston report says very clearly that if we are to transfer refugees to offshore facilities they must have access to a list of basic standards and protections. I will read them. All we are doing is taking the guidelines that the Houston panel requires and that the Houston panel says have to be included and putting them in the legislation. It seems the minister has left them out. It says the country has appropriate protection and welfare arrangements if:

(a) the protection and welfare arrangements in place in the country include arrangements to ensure that a person taken to the country under section 198AD:

(i) will be treated in a manner consistent with human rights standards under international law, including by not being subject to arbitrary detention; and

(ii) will have appropriate accommodation; and

(iii) will have access to appropriate physical and mental health services; and

(iv) will have access to educational and vocational training programs; and

(v) will be provided with assistance in preparing any asylum claim or visa application; and

(vi) in respect of any asylum claim or visa application made by the person, will have access to an appeal mechanism that affords natural justice to the person; and

(b) the protection and welfare arrangements in place in the country are monitored by a body consisting of representatives of Australia and the country.

These are all requirements that the Houston panel says must be included, yet they are not in this legislation. I ask the minister why that is.

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