Stop the Bill, Stop Morrison’s grab for power over asylum seekers

Scott Morrison continues to use the simplistic slogan “Stop the Boats” to add new layers of cruelty and abuse to men, women and children who have a legal right to seek asylum in our country. He is now attempting to use Parliament to give him unprecedented powers that can be exercised without Parliamentary, or judicial scrutiny.

If passed, the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 will empower Scott Morrison to:

• stop boats at sea, to detain them and take people anywhere, anytime he chooses, and to do so in complete secrecy and irrespective of the international obligations and domestic laws of other countries. Nothing is to be published. The High Court will be prevented from deciding the legality of the “turn back policy”; something presently before the High Court. The only condition is that actions taken will be in the “national interest” which the Minister alone will decide. This is tantamount to piracy and a version of people trafficking.

• deny asylum seekers natural justice in determining any claim for asylum. The department will arbitrarily determine claims for asylum by enforcing the Minister’s guidelines to “fast track” claims, with no right of appeal to an independent tribunal. This measure will enshrine administrative “screening out”, meaning asylum seekers will not even be allowed to make a protection application. It would directly violate non-refoulement obligations and dramatically increase the risks that asylum seekers would be returned to danger.

• render stateless children born to asylum seekers in Australia and potentially condemn them to indefinite detention.

• cap numbers of protection visas issued thereby subverting recent Senate and High Court decisions insisting that asylum seekers found to be refugees are entitled to permanent protection.

• require asylum seekers to “modify behaviour” to avoid persecution when being returned to their own country. This is one measure among many others designed to circumvent recent court decisions and restrict refugee rights. Such a measure could mean that Christians or gay asylum seekers, for example, could be returned to danger. It could mean gays being expected to hide their sexual orientation or Christians hiding their faith or face persecution and punishment for apostasy. The purpose of the refugee convention will be undermined and Australia will be complicit with the actions of repressive regimes.

The Refugee Action Coalition broadly supports the dissenting reports regarding the Bill by the Senate “Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee”.

“We condemn the recommendation that the Bill be passed,” said Ian Rintoul, on behalf of the Refugee Action Coalition. “All Senators should beware of blindly accepting reassurances from Morrison’s department, and take note of the wide ranging criticism regarding the Bill’s elimination of fundamental rights.”

“If passed into law, the Bill will entrench the secrecy that surrounds Morrison and the Immigration Department and give Morrison unbridled authoritarian power over the lives of people who need, and have a right to, protection.”

Stop the Bill; Stop Scott Morrison!

For more information , contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713.

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