The NSW Society of Labor Lawyers today condemned actions by the Federal Government this week to further restrict the ability of asylum seekers to access protection in Australia.
On Tuesday, Minister Scott Morrison responded to a decision by Labor and the Greens to block the introduction of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs), by issuing a legal directive that no further protection visas would be granted until next financial year.
President of NSW Labor Lawyers, Hannah Quadrio said the Government was taking out its frustration on the most vulnerable people in our community.
“This is a cruel move to punish asylum seekers for political gain. The people affected are already in our community. Many have arrived by plane. There is no deterrent value in this action.
“This is directed at the Labor Party – but it’s not Labor it hurts. It hurts asylum seekers in our community – who are left in legal limbo and without any work rights, ” said Ms Quadrio
On Thursday, Minister Scott Morrison went further, introducing legislation to repeal the complementary protection regime. Under this regime, asylum seekers who do not meet the Convention definition of a “refugee”, but cannot be returned home for another reason, are also able to receive permanent protection.
“Australia has non-return obligations under a number of human rights conventions, and the complementary protection regime has helped ensure compliance with those conventions.
“Before the complementary protection regime being introduced, it was the Minister himself, who had personal responsibility for ensuring Australia met its non-return obligations. For example, that Australia did not send someone home to face the death-penalty, or torture. The Minister was asked to exercise his discretion, at the very end of the process, once someone had applied for refugee protection and been rejected.
“The complementary protection regime has been a more efficient, more focused, more transparent, and more reliable way of ensuring non-return obligations are not breached. It sees refugee claims and complementary protection claims considered at the same time, in the same departmental process. Decisions on complementary protection and refugee protection can both be reviewed by the RRT.
“It is unbelievable, and frightening, that the Minister would choose to put that burden of deciding whether someone is being sent home to face significant harm, solely on himself,” said Ms Quadrio
The NSW Society of Labor Lawyers aims to promote legal change to help bring about a more just and equitable society.
Media contact: Hannah Quadrio 0405 758 053