National Security

Chill Put on Bill

March 28, 2024

Thursday 28 March 2024
Kimberley Caines
The West Australian

 Efforts to strengthen rules to deport non-citizens have descended into an  ugly political debate that will now be delayed until after the next High  Court challenge on immigration detention.
 The Albanese Government failed in its bid to rush through Parliament an  emergency detainee Bill that will make it easier for the Federal Government  to deport noncitizens failing to co-operate with authorities.
 The Coalition and the Greens teamed up on Wednesday to delay the Bill by  referring it to a parliamentary inquiry for scrutiny with the committee to  report back on May 7.
 This means the earliest Labor could pass the laws will be the week of the  Federal Budget on May 14 unless Parliament is recalled sooner.
 The Government at the highest levels is furious with the Coalition.
 Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil, pictured above with Immigration Minister  Andrew Giles, accused the Coalition of playing politics and said it was in  the national interest for the tighter ministerial powers to become law for  the sake of a functioning migration system.
 "This is one of the most commonsense things that I have seen come before  the Parliament . . . the reason we need it is we seek to run an orderly  migration system in this country," Ms O'Neil said.
 "We have a Government here trying to do something in the national  interest and an Opposition that chooses politics every day of the week, and  it is destructive and it needs to stop." There was pressure from Labor  to have the laws passed through the Senate by Wednesday, despite only giving  MPs 36 hours to debate the Bill, before Parliament rose for a six-week  preBudget break.
 Mr Giles introduced the Bill in Parliament on Tuesday to give the Government  control to impose a prison sentence of one to five years on asylum seekers  who refused to co-operate with their deportation.
 People found to be owed asylum cannot be directed to interact with or be  deported to the country they have sought protection from but they can be told  to do the things necessary to send them to a third country.
 The Government says the ban on visas from certain countries would send a message  to those countries that Australia expects them to take back their own  citizens even if they don't want to be deported.
 An immigration minister could only designate a country after consulting with  the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister.
 As well, the Commonwealth would be able to block new visa applications from  anyone such as academics or tourists seeking to come to Australia from places  designated as "removal concern countries", which are likely to  include Iran, Russia and South Sudan.
 Shadow home affairs minister James Paterson said the Opposition was not  supporting the Government's legislation because it needed more time to  scrutinise it.
 "They decided to drop it on us on a Tuesday morning with a three-day  sitting week and say take it or leave it without proper scrutiny and I think  that's an abuse of process and one we are not willing to be party to,"  he said.

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