Many references to the UN Refugee Convention are set to be removed from the Migration Act under legislation tabled today, which would also see a new visa class for asylum seekers and the reintroduction of controversial Temporary Protection Visas.
The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison tabled the legislation in parliament on Thursday, which also included the creation of a new visa type.
Named the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa, the new visa is temporary and will offer similar support as temporary protection visas.
It will also reintroduce temporary protection visas, six years after they were abolished by the Rudd Government.
The bill can be read in full at the end of the article.
The bill will:
- Reintroduce temporary protection visas
- Create a new visa class to be known as a safe haven enterprise visa
- Create a new fast-track assessment process and remove access to the Refugee Review Tribunal for fast-track applicants
- Remove most references to the United Nations Refugee Convention from the Migration Act and replace them with a new statutory framework which articulates Australia's interpretation of its protection obligations under the convention
- Statutory limit on the number of protection visas in each year
- Tighter circumstances test for the "well-founded fear of prosecution" claim for protection
It will also "clarify the availability of the removal powers independent of assessments of Australia's non-refoulement obligations."
Additionally, children born to asylum seekers, or "unauthorised maritime arrivals", either in Australia or in a regional processing country are also UMAs.
'The Australian parliament, the Australian people will define our obligations'
It also seeks to ensure that children born in Australia to a parent who is a transitory person can also be taken to a regional processing country.
The legislation was reintroduced to the parliament by Mr Morrison, who called on support from all parties.
He said the bill would also create the Immigration Assessment Authority, to fast track the assessment process for a backlog of 30,000 asylum seeker applications.
"The bill deserves the support of all parties," he said.
"Changes in this bill will benefit the Australian community."
The measures are expected to pass the Senate with support of the Palmer United Party.
Speaking on the removal of most references to the UN Refugee Convention, Mr Morrison said "the Australian parliament, the Australian people will define our obligations".
"We’re not going to hand that off to advocates and others around the world… dictating to Australia what our obligations are," he said.
'It's a shocking piece of legislation'
Party MP Clive Palmer said the legislation was a "game changer" for the government.
Mr Palmer told media the bill would allow everyone on Christmas Island and in detention in Australia to "have the ability" to apply for the new visas.
He said they would be for five years and would result in applicants being located in regional areas.
"These visa holders will be targeted to regions and encouraged to fill regional vacancies," he said.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young slammed the bill's move away from the UN Refugee Convention, saying it will leave asylum seekers in "permanent limbo".
"It's a shocking piece of legislation," she said.
"... It will take years for people's claims to be assessed."
The bill will also "clarify" Australia‘s international law obligations.
"It is important that the right mechanisms are in place to ensure that those who do not engage our protection obligations can be removed from Australia," the bill reads.
"The bill will make clear that the removal power is available independent of assessments of Australia's non-refoulement obligations."