Committees submitted to
1. The Australian Human Rights Commission makes this submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in relation to its Inquiry into the Australian Government’s Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 (Cth) (the Bill).
2. The Bill seeks to prevent people from applying for any Australian visa if they arrived in Australia by boat, were over 18 years of age at the time of arrival, and were taken to a regional processing country after 19 July 2013. According to the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Bill, the key objectives of this permanent bar are to maintain the integrity of Australia’s lawful migration programs and discourage hazardous boat journeys to Australia.
3. The Bill was referred to this Committee on Thursday, 10 November 2016 for inquiry and report by Tuesday, 22 November 2016. The Committee asked for submissions by Monday, 14 November 2016, although the secretariat indicated that submissions would be accepted after this date.
4. Due to the very short timeframe of this Inquiry, it has not been possible for the Commission to conduct a detailed analysis of the human rights implications of the Bill. As such, this submission provides a brief overview of some of the most significant human rights issues arising from the Bill. The Commission would be happy to provide further information to the Committee if required.
5. The Commission considers that the Bill could significantly limit the enjoyment of human rights by people who sought asylum in Australia, specifically in relation to non-discrimination and family rights. In the Commission’s view, the Bill does not contain adequate safeguards to prevent breaches of human rights.
6. The Commission also considers that the Bill would limit human rights without an appropriate justification, as a permanent bar on visa applications does not appear to be a necessary, reasonable or proportionate means of achieving the Bill’s objectives.
7. The Australian Human Rights Commission recommends that the Bill not be passed.