The Labor Party’s proposed changes to the Migration Act give the current Minister, or any future Minister, the power to deport children to, say, North Korea.
the designation of a country to be an offshore processing country need not be determined by reference to the international obligations or domestic law of that country
(1) The Minister may, in writing, designate that a country is an 18
offshore processing country.
(2) The only condition for the exercise of the power under subsection (1) is that the Minister thinks that it is in the public interest to designate the country to be an offshore processing country…
(5) The rules of natural justice do not apply to the exercise of the 28
power under subsection (1) or (4).
And that’s only one of two places in the new legislation where MPs are voting expressly that “the rules of natural justice do not apply”.
Think for a moment about what that means. “The rules of natural justice do not apply”? So… the parliament is happy for it to exercise its power unjustly. It admits that it intends to exercise its power unjustly. It is voting this Minister and any future Minister of Immigration the power to be unjust.
As for children? The new legislation undoes 55 year old protections for children that are part of the existing Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946, neutering it to now say:
(2) Nothing in this Act:
(a) affects the operation of the migration law; or
(b) affects the performance or exercise, or the purported performance or exercise, of any function, duty or power under the migration law; or
(c) imposes any obligation on the Minister to exercise, or to consider exercising, any power conferred on the Minister by or under the migration law.
(3) Without limiting subsection (2), nothing in this Act affects the performance or exercise, or the purported performance or exercise, of any function, duty or power relating to:
(a) the removal of a non-citizen child from Australia under section 198 or 199 of the Migration Act 1958; or
(b) the taking of a non-citizen child from Australia to an offshore processing country under section @198AD of that Act; or
(c) the deportation of a non-citizen child under section 200 of that Act; or
(d) the taking of a non-citizen child to a place outside Australia under paragraph 245F(9)(b) of that Act.
Expressly removing the obligations to give even a cursory thought to their safety. The Minister does not even have to consider the safety of a child in the country to which he is sending them. Doesn’t even have to consider it.
Why am I calling this Labor’s “North Korea Solution”? Because it is passing legislation that would enable it – and future governments – to send refugees anywhere. To the most dangerous, brutal places on Earth. Under this legislation, removing any responsibility for the Minister to ensure any basic protections will exist for the people under his care and power, this or a future Minister could deport children to, say, North Korea, if he felt like it and North Korea needed some slave labor or something and said they’d take them.
Any MP who votes for this legislation deserves to be put last at the next election.
UPDATE: Sadly, this old Kudelka cartoon may no longer apply.