Community Safety

Visa fix could take months

June 3, 2024

Monday 03 June 2024
Clare Armstrong
Daily Telegraph

 Labor works on new measure
 Foreigners convicted of serious violent offences will be able to continue to  use their connection to Australia to appeal visa cancellations for up to  several months until Labor's disastrous immigration direction is replaced.
 An interim workaround to stop non-citizen criminals having their deportation  overturned will rely on Immigration Minister Andrew Giles using ministerial  discretion to intervene in cases affected by the current "Direction  99" until a new measure comes into effect.
 The Coalition has called on the federal government to immediately fix the  failed Direction 99, which has allowed greater weight to be placed on a  non-citizen's longstanding connection to Australia when considering visa  cancellations.
 When Mr Giles first signed off on Direction 99 in January 2023 there was a  transitionary period of six weeks before it officially commenced, meaning a  new order issued this week would not apply until August.
 The scramble to undo the damage caused by what the government has argued was  an unintended interpretation of the direction by members of the  Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) considering visa cancellations, is  expected to continue for some weeks as Mr Giles reviews urgent cases.
 So far he has cancelled 20 visas following revelations non-citizens convicted  of serious sex offences, child sex abuse, domestic and family violence were  permitted to stay in Australia due to Direction 99.
 Mr Giles has also ordered his department to inform him of any deportations  overturned by the AAT within 24 hours.
 Coalition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said now the government had  conceded its direction had caused these problems, it must "urgently  finalise" the replacement.
 "Otherwise we will have the department and the AAT continuing to allow  hardcore criminal non-citizens to stay in our country instead of being  deported as they always should have been," he said.
 "Enough damage has been done already further delays only make matters  worse." Anthony Albanese last week announced Labor would issue a new direction  to replace the previous one with a more common sense approach that  prioritised community safety.
 It has since been revealed the Prime Minister and Mr Giles instructed the  Department of Home Affairs to "fix" the issue of New Zealand  citizens who had spent most of their lives in Australia being deported after  committing crimes, according to Sky News Australia.
 Mr Albanese has denied the direction was changed as a direct result of a  request from then-NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern when the two leaders met  in mid-2022.
 Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said on Sunday the original Direction 99 was  not a "mistake," but had been interpreted in a way that was  "very different to how the government intended".

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