Migration Amendment Bill Still on the Table

Introduced by the government and passed in the house of representatives March 26, the Migration Amendment (Removals and Other Measures) Bill 2024, is currently going through a committee process. picture: Marcus Reubenstein, unsplash

by Gabriella Vukman

Introduced by the government and passed in the house of representatives March 26, the Migration Amendment (Removals and Other Measures) Bill 2024, is currently going through a committee process.

This Committee process entails dissecting the bill section by section, suggesting amendments and voting on each, individual clause.

Upon its original introduction, the Bill proposed three amendments with the aim of the first to encourage the cooperation of non-refugees and other peoples who ‘have no right to be in Australia’ with their ‘lawful removal from Australia’ should they not voluntarily choose to leave.

Maintaining that “other countries should cooperate with Australia to facilitate the lawful return of their citizens,” the second section of the bill is centred around diplomatic relations with other nations.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Patterson said in an SBS interview, “We recognise there is a public policy problem here.”

“When there are people who are found not to be refugees who refuse to cooperate with their own removal and that means they can languish in Australia for many years longer than they should, then the government does need powers to deal with that,” Mr Patterson said.

The final section of the bill offers the Minister for Immigration “a new power to designate a country as a removal concern country.” People from these ‘removal concern countries’ will not be able to make new visa applications so long as this ‘removal concern’ remains in place.

The Bill suggests that countries that refuse “to accept returns of their own citizens,” will be designated as ‘removal concern countries.’

Currently, Coalition and Labor Senators have made 19 recommendations to improve the Government’s Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024, with the committee publishing 118 different submissions during the inquiry.

Casey MP Aaron Violi said “Labor has flagrantly disregarded the submissions of multicultural communities and legal experts by failing to address their legitimate concerns throughout the inquiry process.”

“As a result, the Coalition has proposed a range of sensible recommendations to put safeguards on the powers proposed by the bill,” Violi said.

Labor was contacted but did not provide a comment.

Member of the Healesville group Regional Australians for Refugees and Former refugee Bob Rich said, “I was only a kid when I came and I was accompanying my uncle but if this bill had been in action in Australia when I came, we would no doubt have chosen another country.”

“If you commit a crime you are sent to jail and that is the lawful process where everybody understands what is going on. Here we have people sent to places like Naru or New Guinea or imprisoned within Australia without being afforded a trial and with no end in sight,” Mr Rich said.

“This Bill was rushed through with quite insufficient debate allowed.”

The proposed bill’s swift introduction is said to have been intended to beat the High Court Ruling of Iranian man ASF17, who has been detained in Australia after refusing to cooperate with his own deportation back to Iran.

Yarra Junction Local and former refugee Rahmat Ali Zadah said, “People and Government might think refugees just want to arrive and have Centrelink, or maybe they think that it’s not safe for Australia to accept more refugees but in my experience, the refugees I shared accommodation with, all wanted a safe and happy life for them and their families.”

“The majority are skilled people who want to work hard and contribute to Australia. If they are accepted in Australia they are happy to adjust their life to fit in easily here,” Rahmat said.

“I am working very hard and have now applied to be reunited with my family who are living in Afghanistan where it is not safe for them. I have a wife and children who I have not seen in more than a decade. I hope to have them safe and happy with me here in Australia.”

Titled as a refugee and waiting in Indonesia for over a decade before becoming a permanent resident of Australia, Rahmat maintains that his own personal journey would not have been affected by this Bill.

“My personal journey would not have been different as I waited in refugee accommodation for more than 10 years and I arrived with a humanitarian visa but these amendments will affect other refugees who are in danger and deserve a life of protection in Australia unless they commit a serious crime then they will get sent back,” Rahmat said.

“Also the refugees left in Indonesia respect the border rules and want to arrive in Australia legally, however the government closed the access to Australia.”

“The Government thinks refugees in Indonesia are in a good condition, however more than 16 people committed suicide over the duration of my stay there due to the situation they are in,” Rahmat said.

Minister for Immigration Giles Scullin presented the bill and said “The Migration Amendment (Removals and Other Measures) Bill 2024 will provide the government with necessary tools to strengthen our immigration compliance framework, including to better manage immigration detention.”