Labor’s rushed and ruthless laws delayed at Senate to make way for inquiry

MEDIA RELEASE: The ASRC welcomes news the Albanese Government has been road-blocked in its attempts to ram new legislation through parliament that would see refugees and people seeking asylum face ruthless new deportation and entry ban laws. 

Now delayed for six weeks to make way for an inquiry, refugees, human rights lawyers, advocates and the Australian public will have time to properly scrutinise the legislation and provide detailed submissions on the devastating impacts if the new laws are passed.

ASRC advocates were part of a youth delegation to Parliament yesterday when news broke the Government was trying to rush through laws that will prevent family reunion and deport people back to countries where they face risk of persecution and even death.

One Iranian young woman who was in Canberra to speak on behalf of the 9000 failed by the flawed Fast Track system described the proposed legislation as a “slap in the face” that would further marginalise people seeking safety and certainty in Australia.

If successful, the new legislation will allow the Immigration Minister to impose a travel ban by preventing people from designated countries to apply for visas to  Australia, which could result in permanent family separation and cause further anguish to refugees desperate to reunite with loved ones, including siblings and children over 18 years.

The Albanese Government and Department officials have refused to specify which countries will be on the designated list but experts predict it will include countries that do not currently accept involuntary deportations such as Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Russia among others.

The new  bill will also introduce unprecedented powers for the Immigration Minister to force a person to engage with their own removal process, or face a penalty of up to 5 years’ imprisonment if they do not comply. This is deeply concerning as many people who fear serious harm, including death, on return to their home country will be forced to either comply with removal processes or be sent to jail.

Read the Human Rights Law Centre’s Legal Explainer
Media release: Albanese Government’s punitive proposal will endanger people’s lives

Betia Shakiba, Human Rights Lawyer and refugee advocate from Iran
“Yesterday, I went to Parliament as part of a youth delegation to advocate for the rights of the 9,000 people failed by fast track, including my mother and husband, who are in desperate need of permanency and stability. However, instead of finding support, I was faced with a bill that further marginalises and criminalises people seeking safety and security.

“This bill is not only a slap in the face to me and my community but also a violation of basic human rights. It is crucial that we continue to fight for justice and equality for all refugees and asylum seekers, ensuring that they are treated with dignity and respect.”

Jana Favero, ASRC’s Head of Systemic Change
“We are beyond relieved there is a handbrake on this legislation and there is now time for the proper scrutiny that is desperately needed and for the human impact of this bill to be fully understood. The ALP has repeatedly acknowledged  the unfairness and failings of the immigration system they inherited, yet they stand by the decisions that very system made. And now they’re looking to punish those people who haven’t received fair or just outcomes through a system stacked against them.

“Rest assured, alongside refugees, the legal sector and the Australian public, we will send a strong message to Labor during the upcoming inquiry that criminalising refugees and people seeking asylum to try and outwit Peter Dutton will not be tolerated.”

Rachel Saravanamuthu, ASRC’s Legal Policy Lead
“Yesterday we saw yet another surprise attack by the Government on refugees and people seeking asylum by introducing unprecedented new laws that threaten the safety and human rights of people seeking asylum and refugees. 

“During the past few months we have witnessed the Government pass knee-jerk legislation over and over again without any scrutiny, which has created suffering and confusion for refugees and their families. Enough is enough. The Government must stop political point-scoring with people’s lives, and let people seeking asylum and refugees live in safety and with dignity.”

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