Extract from an article by Elibritt Karlsen, Law and Bills Digest Section
Purpose of the Bill The purpose of the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 (the Bill) is to amend the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) and the Migration Regulations 1994 (the Migration Regulations) to:
- indefinitely preclude ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ (UMAs) including ‘transitory persons’ , who were at least 18 years of age upon transfer and were taken to a regional processing country after 19 July 2013 (to be known collectively in the Act as a ‘member of the designated regional processing cohort’) from making a valid application for any Australian visa
- insert a discretionary and non-compellable personal power for the Minister to permit a member of the cohort, or a class of persons within the cohort, to make a valid application for a visa if the Minister thinks it is in the public interest to do so and
- indefinitely preclude a member of the cohort from being deemed to have been granted a Special Purpose visa under section 33 of the Act, or being deemed to have applied for particular visas under the Migration Regulations (with an accompanying power for the Minister to waive such exemptions).
Background These proposed legislative amendments were first mentioned in the media in September 2016:
Back home, Mr Dutton has ordered his department to draw up options to toughen the law and ensure he can meet his commitment that asylum seekers who arrive by boat will never enter Australia.
“People on Manus and Nauru will never be settled in Australia,” he said. “Regardless of what third country people end up in, the Government will never allow those people to settle in Australia.”
… All asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island will be added to a list of banned migrants so they are denied visas. They would trigger an alert if they arrived in Australia in the future, even if travelling on a passport from a new country.
On Sunday 30 October 2016 the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, held a joint press conference confirming the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to prevent UMAs who were taken to a regional processing country since 19 July 2013, from making a valid application for an Australian visa:
That is why today, I’m announcing that the Government will introduce legislation in the next parliamentary sitting week to amend the Migration Act to prevent irregular maritime arrivals taken to a regional processing country, from making a valid application for an Australian visa.
The Bill will apply to all taken to a regional processing country since the 19th July 2013. The reason for that date is that is the date when Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared and I quote, “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.” Now this Bill will reflect the Government’s long standing position and as we understand it, the bipartisan position initially set out by Mr Rudd and since then confirmed by Mr Shorten. And that position is, and I repeat, that irregular maritime arrivals who have been sent to a regional processing country, that is Papua New Guinea and Nauru at the present time, will never be settled permanently in Australia….
SOURCE: Parliament of Australia. “Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016.” Parliament of Australia Bills Digest No. 72, 2016–17, 14 March 2017.
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