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Home > Media > The Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024: An Explainer

The Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024: An Explainer

The Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 was introduced in Federal Parliament in March. It passed the House of Representatives but has not yet been voted on in the Senate. This vote will take place in May, leaving us only a few weeks to act by expressing our opposition to the Bill. There are significant concerns regarding its impact on refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. It would create a new regime that allows the Immigration Minister to direct people – under threat of imprisonment – to return to countries where they may have fear of persecution or death. Here are the key points:

Who does the Bill apply to?

The Bill targets people who are subject to removal from Australia after being refused a visa, including a protection visa. While it does not apply to those still awaiting a decision on their protection application, or otherwise currently seeking a review, it will apply to those who have been refused protection under the appalling ‘fast track’ process, a process which the Australian Labor Party has admitted does “not provide a fair, thorough and robust assessment process for persons seeking asylum.” This puts thousands of people at risk of return to danger or years of imprisonment.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

  1. New Special Powers for the Immigration Minister: The Minister may direct a person to facilitate their own removal from Australia, through actions including submitting applications for travel documents, attending interviews, and providing information. This can involve people being required to engage with authoritarian regime representatives, even if they fear reprisal from the regime.
  2. Imprisonment and mandatory minimums: Failure to comply with a direction can result in a criminal offence, with penalties of a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 months and up to 5 years imprisonment and fines of up to $93,900.
  3. The Visa Ban: The Bill allows the Minister to designate certain countries as “removal concern countries”. This means that all people from these designated countries may be banned from coming to Australia, with some exceptions for immediate family members and those seeking resettlement through the Humanitarian Program. This would include people travelling for study, tourism, or business.  

Troubling Developments:  

  • Criminalising seeking asylum: This Bill criminalises non-cooperation with removal, even for individuals who genuinely fear harm if returned to their home country. It imposes a mandatory minimum of 12 months imprisonment for those who don’t cooperate with their removal.  
  • Indefinite Detention: This Bill could mean indefinite detention for those who cannot be removed due to genuine fears of harm or their being too medically unwell to participate.  
  • Separation of Families: The Bill allows for the separation of families by requiring compliance with removal directions, regardless of the impact on family members. This includes Australian citizens forcibly separated from their parents because the parents would be coerced to return.
  • Expansion of Ministerial Powers: The Bill grants the Minister extensive powers to designate the visa ban or “removal concern countries” and decide on exemptions, without transparency or safeguards. This would apply to current and future Ministers. There are clear similarities to the Trump Administration’s 2017 executive orders that banned people from certain countries from obtaining a visa and entering the United States, colloquially known as “the Muslim Ban”.  

 Call to Action:  

We urge you to take an immediate stand against the Bill by:  

 

 

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