National Security

Labor's law rush stalls

March 28, 2024

Thursday 28 March 2024
Courty Gould
Gold Coast Bulletin

 Clare O'Neil has slammed the opposition for playing politics after it teamed  up with the Greens to thwart contentious changes to migration laws.
 In a heated press conference after the proposal had been delayed to  facilitate a full parliamentary inquiry, a furious Home Affairs Minister  repeatedly refused to answer questions about why the laws were so urgently  needed.
 "We have a government here trying to do something in the national  interest and an opposition that chooses politics every day of the week . it  is destructive and it needs to stop," she said on Wednesday at  Parliament House.
 The government had hoped the laws, which would see asylum seekers who had  exhausted all legal avenues face a jail sentence of up to five years if they  did not co-operate with an attempt to deport them, would pass by the time  parliament rose for the six-week Easter break.
 The proposed laws would also grant the minister the power to block visa  applications from countries that do not accept their citizens being  involuntarily returned.
 Up to five countries are reportedly being targeted by the federal government  - Iraq, Iran, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Russia.
 The bill was introduced just weeks before the High Court is due to hear a  case involving an Iranian man, known as ASF17, who is refusing to return to  Iran where he fears persecution because of his sexuality.
 Ms O'Neil refused to comment on the link between the case and the powers.
 But she conceded the ASF17 case showed "it is important that we have  these powers".
 "It's not the only reason why we're doing this," the minister  added.
 In a press conference earlier in the day, Coalition home affairs spokesman  James Paterson said the government and officials had failed to demonstrate  why the legislation was so urgent during a snap inquiry on Tuesday evening.
 "They couldn't explain how many people this would affect," Senator  Paterson said.
 "They couldn't explain what the consequences of this would be for any  upcoming High Court cases.
 "They couldn't explain how or when they would use this legislation or  who would apply it to." While the Greens wanted an inquiry to report  back in June, the Coalition amended the motion for a reporting date of May 7,  a week before the budget.
 Greens senator David Shoebridge described the laws as a "pure political  play".

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