Immigrants could face jail if they refuse deportation

Andrew Giles faces a grilling in Question Time

Source: Parliament of Australia

In an attempt to pre-empt another High Court case, the government is rushing through another set of laws that will make it easier to deport asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers who refuse to be deported could face up to five years in jail under laws being rushed through parliament ahead of another High Court decision on indefinite detention.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles will have powers to direct asylum seekers and other immigrants to “do specified things” that would facilitate their deportation.

The bill passed the lower house on Tuesday, when it was introduced by Mr Giles after midday. It  is set to be debated in the senate on Tuesday afternoon.

Any citizens from countries that do not accept those deported from Australia could also have their visa applications barred in an attempt to incentivise diplomatic co-operation.

The immigration minister said the government was committed to making Australia’s migration system “better, stronger and fairer” to ensure it was working in Australia’s national interest.

“We need these important tools to strengthen our migration system,” he said.

Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday.

Labor is facing another High Court challenge as an Iranian citizen known as ASF17 makes a legal bid for freedom.

The Albanese government has attempted to send him back to Iran but as a bisexual man, he could face the death penalty upon return.

If an earlier High Court ruling – which deemed indefinite detention unlawful in November – is expanded to cover people who refuse to co-operate with Australian authorities, he would be released and more refugees could be freed.

The government has been drafting legislation since Friday to try to pre-empt the court’s April 17 ruling.

“Non-co-operation with removal processes demonstrates a disregard for Australian laws,” the bill’s memorandum reads.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the coalition received little more than an hour’s notice the Commonwealth intended to introduce the legislation to parliament on Tuesday.

This gives them about 36 hours to pass the legislation if it is to be done before the end of the sitting week – the last before the High Court decision.

“Perhaps if it was in response to a genuine and urgent crisis that would be OK but this is an extraordinary demand to put on parliament, to put on all of us,” Senator Paterson said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan condemned the government’s “botched” move and said he was concerned people smugglers would be encouraged.

He called for a senate inquiry to be held on Tuesday night, so the legislation could be scrutinised.

Greens leader Adam Bandt slammed the government’s approach.

“Nothing was put forward that justifies us losing the usual rights that everyone in this parliament has to consider such important legislation,” he said.

Warringah MP Zali Steggall said she was “deeply disappointed” Labor was trying to rush through laws without giving enough time to seriously consider the implications.

“Shame, shame on every member of government for supporting … something that is deeply, deeply undemocratic,” she said.

The government’s response is similar to the fallout from the High Court’s NZYQ case when indefinite detention was ruled illegal.

In the aftermath, about 150 immigrants were released into the community.

While some had serious criminal convictions, including for murder and rape, others faced less serious charges and all served their time behind bars before being placed in immigration detention.


Topics: Immigration
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