Shayne Neumann MP
Federal Member for Blair

Australian Labor
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The Coalition controlled Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has embarrassed the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and called on him to address serious concerns about the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 which imposes a lifetime ban on some refugees ever visiting Australia.

The Committee which is chaired by Liberal Member for Moore, Ian Goodenough and whose membership includes five members of the Liberal Party has released their Human Rights Scrutiny Report which says:

“The proposed ban directly distinguishes the grant of visas between people who fall within the 'regional processing cohort' and individuals who do not, which may amount to direct discrimination on the basis of 'other status'.” Page 16

“The bill therefore applies what is likely to be considered an unlawful penalty for seeking asylum, in contravention of article 31 of the Refugee Convention.  To penalise those who seek to enter Australia illegally for the purpose of seeking asylum cannot be a legitimate objective under international law.”  Page 18

“Insofar as the objective of the bill is to 'further discourag[e] persons from attempting hazardous boat journeys with the assistance of people smugglers in the future and encourage[e] them to pursue regular migration pathways instead', the statement of compatibility provides no evidence as to whether the measure would be effective in pursuing this objective.”  Page 18

“… a visa ban on classes of asylum seekers is a severe measure…” Page 19

“Accordingly, on the information available, the proposed ban does not appear to be compatible with the right to equality and non-discrimination.”  Page 19

“The proposed visa ban engages and limits the right to protection of the family and rights of the child as it would foreseeably operate to separate families. In this respect, there are a range of circumstances under the proposed visa ban which may lead to the separation of family members.”  Page 20

This scathing report is further proof that aspects of the lifetime ban bill are ridiculous, unnecessary and severe.

Labor cannot in good conscience support legislation which a Coalition controlled committee has found to be discriminatory, fails to protect the rights of the family and a contravention of Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.