Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Regulations and Determinations

Migration (IMMI 18/019: Fast Track Applicant Class) Instrument 2018; Disallowance

6:19 pm

Photo of Kim CarrKim Carr (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) Share this | Hansard source

I just wish to indicate to the chamber Labor will be supporting this motion. On 5 December 2014, the parliament passed legislation to create what has now been labelled the fast-track assessment process for the protection of visa applications, and this legislation came into effect on 19 April 2015. The fast-track assessment process only applies to the legacy caseload, specifically people who arrived in Australia on or after 13 August 2012 and before 1 January 2014 who have not previously been in a regional processing country. The fast-track assessment process uses a review body which was established by the then Abbott government called the Immigration Assessment Authority—otherwise known as the IAA.

The review body effectively limits the extent to which a claim for protection can be reviewed, especially compared to the previous review mechanism under the Refugee Review Tribunal. We should be clear about this: the successive Liberal governments have failed to treat asylum seekers and refugees living in a shared Australian community with the respect that they deserve. Asylum seekers and refugees are some of the most vulnerable people living in Australia. They have fled persecution, and that's the definition by which they are determined to be refugees. They have faced trauma and torment. With this instrument, this conservative government is trying to force more people who are part of the so-called legacy caseload into the fast-track process.

The government has provided information that the instrument before the Senate effectively affects approximately 108 individuals. It strikes me that this demonstrates that the government is completely out of touch. By forcing more people into the process which limits their rights to have their claims for protection reviewed, the government actually is undermining some pretty fundamental principles of human rights here. This instrument has done nothing with Australia's border security; these are individuals who are already in Australia.

So Labor took a commitment to the last election, as outlined in our national platform, that Labor would abolish the fast-track assessment process. Our national platform also makes it clear the existing fast-track assessment process under the auspices of the Immigration Assessment Authority and the limitation of appeal rights do not provide a fair, thorough and robust assessment process for persons seeking asylum. Labor is committed to ensuring these people found to be owed protection are treated with dignity and respect.

People who have been through the fast-track process and who are found to be owed protection have been placed on temporary protection visas by the current government. A temporary protection visa places refugees in an ongoing state of uncertainty and of limbo as they have their claims reassessed every three years. This prevents meaningful settlement and creates hardships for refugees. It actually denies Australia the benefit of their contribution to our society and to their communities. So Labor has announced that in government we will abolish the temporary protection visas and will place those on TPVs and found to be genuine refugees onto a permanent protection visa so they can be afforded the protection and certainty that they are entitled to in this country. Labor also took to the last election this policy to reinstate access to the Refugee Review Tribunal and abolish the IAA established by the Abbott government.

I note that the instrument was signed by Minister Dutton on 23 May 2018. This was when Minister Dutton was Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection but before he made that abortive attempt to actually engage in a coup against Prime Minister Turnbull. Let's not forget of course that there was considerable as to whether or not Mr Dutton was even qualified to sit in the parliament, and there still remains considerable doubt even today. That casts legal doubt over the decisions he made as a minister, from cancelling the visas for those actually involved in serious crimes to the signing of such instruments. And so it is apparent that the member's position ought to have been resolved by due process through the legal processes established by the High Court. So I make it clear: Labor will be supporting this disallowance motion.

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