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Douglas McDonald-Norman: Abolish fixed time limits on the AAT in some visa cases

I would abolish subsection 500(6L) of the Migration Act, which imposes a fixed time limit on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in some visa cases.

A Delegate of the Minister may refuse or cancel a person’s visa because they do not satisfy the ‘character test’. That person may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of that decision. However, section 500(6L) of the Migration Act provides that, unless the Tribunal has made a decision on the application within 84 days of when the person was notified of the Delegate’s decision, the Tribunal is taken to have affirmed the Delegate’s decision.

Decisions on the cancellation or refusal of visas can be exceptionally complicated. Even if a person does not pass the ‘character test’, the Tribunal must determine whether there is another reason why the person should nonetheless be allowed to remain in Australia. This can include examination of a person’s physical or psychological health; evidence from friends and family; review of their criminal record; and consideration of the circumstances in their country of origin, including potential persecution. These complex decisions should not be subject to a fixed timetable which cannot be extended even in the most compelling circumstances.

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