Senate debates

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014; In Committee

9:40 am

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

The Greens oppose item 14 of schedule 1 in the following terms:

(5) Schedule 1, item 14, page 8 (lines 1 to 15), to be opposed.

This amendment goes to dealing with concerns that many experts and others had in relation to this bill with the difficulties for asylum seekers who have new information that would strengthen their claim—or, indeed, things perhaps may have changed over the long period of time that we know people have been waiting for their claims to be processed.

We have to remember here that this legislation is going to impact directly on people who are part of what has been referred to by the government as the legacy caseload. There are around 30,000 people whose claims either have not started to be assessed yet or are part of the way through. Many of those people have already been in Australia for three or four years. The circumstances in their home countries have perhaps changed. The issues that they have dealt with while they have been held in immigration detention may have impacted on their ability to give clarity to their case and information. Also, of course, one of the things that I am extremely concerned about is the impact on people's claims, through no fault of their own but through the lax management of people's data, such as when the immigration department accidentally uploaded the personal information of over 10,000 asylum seekers. You would remember, Mr Chairman, this happened a number of years ago. All of those people have now been put at further risk because of that data breach.

We need to ensure that, if new information becomes available and was not included the first time round, there is an ability for that to be included, without punishment, without fear of raising those issues and without a negative impact on people. It strikes me that this legislation before us, as it is, punishes people for circumstances that are often out of their control and out of their hands. If new information becomes available, it should be able to be included, particularly when we talk about people's identity documents and clarifying exactly who they are and where they are. People should not be punished because of things that perhaps have changed over the last three or four years as they have been waiting desperately to have their claims assessed.

That is why I propose Australian Greens amendment (5): because we need to make sure we are not unduly dismissing somebody's legitimate claim because we are not recognising the realities that people face fleeing persecution and then the hardships that they have had to endure while they have been here in Australia effectively on a freeze in terms of their assessment, which has forced new, subsequent information to now have a very direct impact on their ability to be safe or, indeed, to be put in further danger if they are sent home.


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