Statement by Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia
People’s lives will be put at risk by planned changes to Federal legislation that would allow visa and citizenship applications to be decided on secret documents and secret hearings.
The Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020 would give the Ministers for Home Affairs and Immigration powers to prevent refugees from viewing or challenging information that could get them sent back to be harmed and possibly killed in their country of origin.
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) opposes the proposals – which are currently the subject of a Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee inquiry, due to report by 10 March. RCOA will appear before the committee in Federal Parliament on Tuesday at 12:45pm, together with Refugee Legal, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.
Under the proposed laws, courts would deem certain material as ‘confidential information’ and prevent applicants from viewing or responding to any information.
Refugees would then be unable to view or challenge documents used against them under new secrecy provisions.
Ensuring applicants have a fair hearing is in everyone’s interest – it ensures decision makers get it right and also protects against sending people back to harm.
Without the chance to respond to secret information, how can we know that the information being used against a person is reliable? And how can this be deemed a just and democratic process?
We need to ask ourselves the key question, is this the direction we want Australia to take?
For further comment or to arrange an interview:
Refugee Council of Australia: 0488 035 535