The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties has lodged with the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee a submission vehemently opposing the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill.
The Secretary of the NSWCCL, Stephen Blanks, said:
"The Bill, if passed, will effectively cast aside Australia’s international human rights obligations, placing punitive restrictions upon individuals in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Further, removal of access to merits review mechanisms increases the likelihood that refugees will be returned to their country of origin and confronted with the prospect of persecution and, possibly, death."
A comparable version of the Bill was firmly resisted by the Australian Labor Party in 2006 on the basis that such legislation would result in ‘the day that Australia turned its back on the Refugee Convention and on refugees escaping circumstances that most of us can only imagine’ (Chris Bowen MP, in 2006). "While Australia’s human rights obligations have not diminished since 2006, it would appear that the integrity of members of Parliament, with respect to issues of human rights, has deteriorated significantly.", Mr Blanks said.
"The Bill is represents a reactive policy, founded solely upon deterrent mechanisms. The Bill proposes that Australia turn its back on obligations to protect individuals seeking asylum, purporting instead to place persons in indefinite detention, or alternatively, to strip individuals seeking asylum and those deemed refugees of the right to work, to accommodation assistance and to financial support for a period of five years." Mr Blanks said.
Kim Beazley said in the House of Representatives in 2006 that "to oppose such a Bill would entail taking a ‘stand for basic human decency’.
The NSW Council calls on Parliament to stand up for basic human decency and reject this bill.
Media contact: Stephen Blanks 0414 448 654