Report to Senate: LifeTime Visa Ban

Report to Senate: LifeTime Visa Ban

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 [Provisions]

November 2016

Recommendation: The committee recommends that the Senate pass the bill

Referral 1.1 The Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 (the bill) was introduced into the House of Representatives on 8 November 2016 by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Peter Dutton MP.

On 10 November 2016, the Senate referred the bill to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 22 November 2016.

The Senate Selection of Bills Committee recommended that the bill be referred to examine the impact on families and children [and] compliance with Australia’s International Human Rights obligations’.

The bill, if passed, would amend the Migration Act 1958 (Migration Act) and the Migration Regulations 1994 (Migration Regulations) to indefinitely preclude ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ (UMAs) from making a valid application for any Australian visa. Item 1 of the bill inserts a proposed new definition in subsection 5(1) of the Migration Act. This classifies specific persons as part of a ‘regional processing cohort’. This includes individuals who were at least 18 years old and are transferred to a regional processing country after 19 July 2013, including those who:

 are currently in a regional processing country;

 have left a regional processing country and are in another country;

 are in Australia awaiting transfer back to a regional processing country and who are taken to a regional processing country in the future; 4 and,

 people temporarily transferred from regional processing countries to Australia for medical treatment and those who have since settled in another country or returned home and applies to both temporary and permanent visas.

The Report was tabled in the Senate on 22 November 2016

Dissenting Report by the Labor Senators

Dissenting Report by the Australian Greens  

Public submissions

Australian Churches Media Release – 13 Nov 2016


13th November 2016

Press Release: Australian Churches welcome government recognition of the trauma caused by Nauru and Manus

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says the acknowledgement from the Turnbull government today that the cruel refugee prisons on Nauru and Manus are unsustainable is welcome and long overdue, and the Taskforce will closely monitor any deals, to ensure that safe and fair resettlement is the ultimate priority.

General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Sister Elizabeth Delaney, which represents 19 Christian churches in Australia, said today that “people in churches across Australia today are thanking God that our Government has finally understood that Australians will not tolerate the cruelty being inflicted on people who’ve been incarcerated indefinitely in remote, desolate locations within Nauru and Manus Province”.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce said:

“The fact that government has finally acknowledged that the refugee prisons are unsustainable means we are cautiously optimistic that we may be coming to the end of cruel and archaic offshore processing.”

“We also reject the need to send people who are currently here in Australia, the Let Them Stay group, back to Nauru, before they are eligible for resettlement to the US or elsewhere – that is playing games with families here, many who have very young children”.

“The devil is in the detail. We are particularly worried about the linking of the ‘lifetime refugee ban’ legislation with this announcement, specifically for the 20 families on Nauru who have family here in Australia”.

“Every single refugee must be given safe and fair resettlement. That is the only standard by which any international deal can be determined a success”.

“Not a single person must be left behind. The Turnbull government cannot think that sending some people to the US will distract from the further misery of others.

“If we needed any more proof that the lifetime refugee ban was motivated by nothing more than ugly partisan politics then we now have it. This announcement today exposes the ban completely as even more irrelevant.”

Media inquiries and comment:

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739

Peter Stahel (Essential Media) 0408 584 439

Australian Churches Media Release – pdf version

Amnesty International Media Release – 13 Nov 2016

13 November 2016

Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on third country resettlement is an extreme step in shirking responsibility by the Australian Government, said Amnesty International.

Prime Minister Turnbull today announced that the Australian Government is in discussions with the United States for some of the refugees warehoused on Nauru and Manus Island to be settled in the US via a process administered by the UNHCR.

“It is absolutely shameful that the Australian Government has first sent several thousand people to languish for three years on Nauru and Manus Island, set up an offshore processing regime on Nauru that amounts to torture and is now passing the buck when it comes to offering them protection,” said Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia.

“Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and should be leading by example at a time of global record high levels of people forced to seek safety. Yet our Government is failing to play a fair part in providing sanctuary for those fleeing conflict and persecution, and this urgently needs to change.

“Amnesty International has seen first hand the horrific abuse that is being inflicted on people in Nauru and on Manus Island, so we are pleased that for those who may be resettled in the US the abuse will come to an end and we acknowledge the US for giving people a genuine chance at settling and restarting their lives in a safe place.

“What this announcement clearly shows is that the Australian Government has finally acknowledged that Australia’s offshore processing policy is not tenable and Australia’s centres on Nauru and Manus Island must be urgently emptied and closed.”

Amnesty International is extremely concerned about the lack of information provided by the Australian Government around the timeline of this deal taking place and lack of clarity around the numbers of people who will be given the opportunity to settle in the US, with fears that many people will be left behind to languish in limbo.

Amnesty International also raises serious concerns around the introduction of the 20 year visa for people on Nauru, given the well-documented systematic mistreatment, attacks, discrimination and inadequate medical care experienced for years by the hundreds of people warehoused by the Australian Government on Nauru.

“The people on Nauru and Manus Island have suffered severe trauma at the hands of the Australian Government. A durable solution to this failed policy of offshore processing means that all people are settled safely where they have access to appropriate health care and access to torture trauma services, not trapping them in further limbo,” said Graham Thom.

Amnesty International refutes the Government’s claims that the lifetime ban is a necessary step towards achieving third country resettlements for the refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island. The lifetime ban is an outrageous and unnecessary proposal that  discriminates against people seeking safety based on their mode of arrival, which is in clear breach of Australia’s obligations under international law.

Amnesty International is strongly urging the Australian Government to finally resolve the unsustainable situation that is offshore detention. The fairest and quickest way to look after the 2000 men, women and children on Nauru and Manus Island is to bring them to Australia now to process their asylum claims and welcome refugees into our community.

The next step is for Australia to immediately invest in alternative solutions that both protect the human rights of people seeking asylum and prevent avoidable deaths – twin goals which should be the bedrock of any asylum seeker policy.

“There are humane solutions – that both reduce deaths at sea and eliminate abuse – one shouldn’t come at the expense of the other and it’s about time the Australian Government stops ignoring this,” said Graham Thom.

Amnesty Media Release PDF Version


What we do & don’t know re the US refugee resettlement deal

What we do and don’t know about the refugee resettlement deal with the United States

ABC News – 13 November 2016

The United States and Australia have agreed to a one-off refugee resettlement deal for people on Manus Island and Nauru.

This is what we do and don’t know about the agreement.

Who will be affected?

The agreement will cover people on Manus Island and Nauru found to be genuine refugees.

It depends on how many pass the vetting process by the US, but the ABC understands the offer will be made to the vast majority of people still in offshore detention centres, as well as those processed offshore but are currently in Australia due to medical reasons.

The offer will not be made to those who have accepted resettlement elsewhere.

The Federal Government says it will prioritise families first.

What happens to those who aren’t refugees?

They can either return to their country of origin or remain on the islands.

The UNHCR says it is “gravely concerned” for this cohort.

For those refugees who reject an offer of resettlement in the US, they could soon be subject to a 20-year visa under negotiations between Nauru and Australia.

Read the full article here

PM announces refugee resettlement deal with US

Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton announce refugee resettlement deal with US

ABC News – 13 November 2016

The United States and Australia have agreed to a one-off refugee resettlement deal for people on Manus Island and Nauru.

Key points:

  • Resettlement deal is a “one-off” that will only apply to refugees currently on Manus Island or Nauru, Malcolm Turnbull says
  • US Homeland Security officials coming to Australia to begin process in next few days
  • Peter Dutton says Government in final stages of negotiation with Nauru for 20-year visa

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed the agreement this morning, following a year of negotiations.

Read the full article here