Fast-tracked migration bill is another legal shortfall

Fast-tracked migration bill is another legal shortfall

Media Release
Asylum seekers

Marking Refugee Week 16-22 June 2024 – “Finding Freedom: Family” 

Motivated­­­­ by achieving fairness for all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society has written to non-Government Senators urging them to vote against the Migration Am­­endment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 currently before the Senate. 

Mr Gaetani told the Senators that Government efforts and resources should not be expended on flawed legislation. 

In advance of this year’s Refugee Week, the Society has welcomed the Government’s increase in the number of assessors and the new Administrative Review Tribunal. It is also welcome that as of 31 March the Government has approved the permanent residency of 16,400 people who were on temporary visas for a decade.

‘However, there’s a shortfall in the efforts to quickly finalise the cases of thousands who should also be given the security of permanent residency and who are believed to have proof of identity issues,’ the Society’s National President Mark Gaetani said. 

‘It was also disappointing to see the allocation for Asylum Seeker Support Payments cut by $20 million in this year’s budget. 

‘There have been many disappointments in this broad space, as well as critical inquiries such as the focus on the corrupt offshore processing regime. This program commenced 12 years ago and still condemns people to struggle in neighbouring countries including PNG where around fifty asylum seekers and refugees have been held for over a decade. 

‘About a dozen have serious illnesses that can only be treated effectively in Australia, and they should be because our government moved them to PNG and consequently Australia has the responsibility.’ 

Regarding the Migration Amendment Bill, Mr Gaetani said, ‘The Society is especially concerned about various key aspects of this Bill, which was being fast-tracked but now seems to be on hold.  

‘Underpinning our concern is the potential for human rights breaches. While the rule of law must be respected, this legislation was conceived in haste to manage discrepancies relating to migration law and the activities and rights of non-citizens. 

‘A major anomaly relates to the rights of children wherein a direction to deport or incarcerate one or both parents may result in a child becoming separated.’ 

Mr Gaetani noted that the theme of this year’s Refugee Week is “Finding Freedom: Family”, whereas under this Bill non-citizens outside of Australia, many of whom have families here, would be unable to make a valid application for a visa if they are a national of certain designated countries. 

‘This would result in the separation of families, as people granted permanent protection visas will no longer be able to bring family members from "removed concern countries" to Australia. 

‘We are particularly concerned about people with genuine claims for protection, including those who were subject to the ‘fast-track’ process, becoming subject to a removal pathway direction without having their claims reassessed.  

‘This process could potentially breach Australia’s various obligations under the Refugee Convention. 

‘In the words of Pope Francis, let us pray for those fleeing their own countries. Let us unite in prayer for all those who have had to leave their land in search of dignified living conditions 

‘May we and our governments treat those seeking asylum with fairness and compassion. The conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine show how quickly populations can be disrupted, with many ordinary people fleeing for their lives.  

‘Australia is a wealthy country and well placed to provide sanctuary and assistance where we can. Let us look into our hearts and do the right and moral thing for people in need,’ Mr Gaetani urged. 

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.


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