Refugee Protection Bill 2019

Refugee Protection Bill 2019

The Refugee Protection Bill 2019 has been introduced and read a first in the House of Representative by independent MP Andrew Wilkie. According to SBS news, the bill is backed by independent MP Kerryn Phelps.

Simplified outline 

The Bill’s Simplified outline reads as follows (emphasis added):

(1) This Act enables the establishment of a network of centers, located in and run by Asia Pacific Countries including Australia, where asylum seekers can go to be registered, have their immediate humanitarian needs met and lodge a preference for country of re-settlement. If the asylum seeker selects Australia, and is within the specified quota, this Act establishes a process for assessing their claim in Australia with appropriate oversight, limited timeframes and judicial reviews.

(2) This Act does not allow mandatory detention and prioritizes the applicant’s immediate needs and refugee and international human rights law.

The Migration Act 1958

The explanatory memorandum to the bill includes the following passages (emphasis added):

As it is unconstitutional for a bill to direct the executive arm of government to enter into a regional agreement, this bill is enabling legislation only. it should be seen by the executive as a viable alternative to Australia’s current asylum seeker policy as it has been developed in accordance with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) guidelines, the Refugees Convention and international human rights.

This bill should be read as a primary bill as it requires the subsequent passage of consequential amendments. The interaction of this bill with the Migration Act is complex, as is the legal status and transitory arangements for current asylum seekers and refugees if this bill is passed. The consequential amendments bill will address this, and any other inconsistencies with commonwealth, state or territory law.

Immigration assistance & immigration legal Assistance

The Bill includes the following provisions:

5 Definitions 

(2):  An expression used in this Act that is defined for the purposes of MIgration Act [1958] has the same meaning in this act as it has in the Migration Act [1958].

25 Communications for the purpose of obtaining immigration assistance and immigration legal assistance 

(2) An APASS [Asia Pacific Asylum Seeker Solution] applicant in immigration detention is entitled, at any time during business hours, to communicate and consult regarding immigration assistance or immigration legal assistance.

(3) All reasonable efforts are to be made to facilitate an APASS applicant to communicate or consult, outside business hours, regarding immigration assistance or immigration legal assistance if the need to communicate or consult is urgent.

(4) Adequate time and facilities are to be made available to an APASS applicant in detention forthe purpose of receiving immigrastion assistance or immigration legal assistance.

(5) Without limiting subsection (4), an APASS applicant who is receiving immigrastion assistance or immigration legal assistance, or the APASS applicant’s legal counsel, may be required to be within sight, but must not be required to be within hearing, of others (including immigration detention staff)


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