Senate committee’s majority report ignores overwhelming evidence to give Labor’s Bill the rubber stamp


A Government majority Senate Committee has ignored overwhelming evidence from impacted refugee communities, medical and legal experts, support agencies and academics to give the Albanese Government’s callous Entry Ban and Deportation Bill the go-ahead in a majority report released this afternoon.

After attempting to ram the Bill through Parliament in less than 36 hours, Labor’s undemocratic attempts to forestall political fallout from the ASF17 case with rushed legislation were road-blocked at the Senate in March to allow time for an inquiry and for affected communities to make submissions.

After receiving hundreds of submissions against the Bill, and hearing detailed testimonies at the inquiry hearing on 15 April, the Senate’s Legal Constitutional Affairs Committee published its majority report today with just two key recommendations – one to pass the Bill, and the other encouraging the Minister to “consider community impact” when designating a country as a removal concern country.

Refugee communities impacted by Labor’s Bill are devastated to learn the Senate Committee has dismissed expert testimonies, community submissions and the voices of lived experience that have shown how clearly this Bill unfairly punishes and criminalises refugees and people seeking asylum.

If passed into law, the Bill will force people fleeing persecution to choose between returning to countries where they face harm or even death, or be sent to jail for refusing to cooperate with their removal. The Bill also gives the Minister powers to refuse visa applicants from countries such as Iran, South Sudan and Afghanistan – causing permanent family separation and untold harm to migrant communities across Australia.

The Committee report also includes dissenting reports with a wide range of recommendations and amendments from the Coalition, Australian Greens and Senator David Pocock acknowledging and addressing concerns raised during the inquiry process.

Read the full report

Jana Favero, ASRC’s Head of Systemic Change
“It’s outrageous and undemocratic that the Government members of the Senate committee have turned their back on the overwhelming evidence and opposition to this bill. Instead of listening to and acting on the advice from experts and impacted communities across Australia, the majority report’s recommendations blatantly ignore the real and valid concerns that have been consistently raised against this bill.

“It’s beyond comprehension that the committee has read through hundreds of submissions and listened to hours of evidence opposing the bill, yet the majority report still recommends the law be passed with one minor consideration. 

“What a disgrace. From trying to rush through the bill in the first place to a report that ignores the majority of concern, the whole process has been stacked against refugees. The bill must be opposed in its entirety.’’

Betia Shabiba, Refugee advocate from Iran
“I was one of many in my community who gave evidence and wrote a submission about what the ramifications of this Bill are not only for my family, but also for the broader refugee community. It is so disheartening to note that our concerns have not been fully considered by the Committee.

“This Bill, if enacted, would grant an excessive amount of power to the minister of the day. Such broad discretionary powers are discriminatory and contradict the democratic principles of our country. It is incredibly frustrating to contemplate that this bill, if passed, could potentially result in the incarceration or forced removal of refugees to countries where they face serious harm.”

Hannah Dickinson, ASRC Principal Solicitor
“This Bill criminalises refugees, separates families, and introduces alarming new powers for the Minister to ban entire nationalities from travel to Australia. It will cause intolerable and unjustified harm to individuals and communities.

“The Committee, in producing its report, had the benefit of receiving expert evidence from hundreds of people and organisations, united in their concerns about the promotion of division and discrimination, and in calls to reject the Bill on the basis of its severe defects, both legal and moral. The Committee has nonetheless recommended passage of the Bill.

“This outcome is an indictment on the democratic processes that are intended as a check and balance on Government law-making.


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