Migrants could face jail if they refuse deportation

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The federal parliament has approved expedited new detention legislation, which mean that asylum seekers who refuse to be repatriated might spend a maximum of five years behind bars.

In less than two hours, the new legislation was agreed by parliament after it was rushed into session on Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of a High Court ruling on indefinite detention.

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan described the government’s actions as ‘an ultramarathon in incompetence’.

‘We should have time to consider that [the legislation],’ he said in response to the introduction of the new laws. ‘We should have time to debate that! And scrutinise it.’

Nevertheless the vote passed in the house 102 yes votes to 13 nos.

A leaked explanatory memorandum of the bill claimed changes were needed to ‘strengthen the integrity of the migration system’ by making it easier for immigrants to be deported.

The bill will give Immigration Minister Andrew Giles the power to direct asylum seekers and other immigrants to ‘do specified things’ that would facilitate their deportation.

Any citizens from countries that do not accept those deported from Australia could also have their visa applications barred in an attempt to incentivise co-operation from other nations.

Introducing the legislation to parliament on Tuesday, Mr Giles said the government was committed to strengthening Australia’s migration system.

‘Making it better, stronger and fairer and ensuring it is working in Australia’s national interest,’ he said.

‘We need these important tools to strengthen our migration system.’

Labor is facing another High Court challenge as an Iranian citizen known as ASF17 makes a legal bid for freedom.

The Albanese government has attempted to send him back to Iran but as a bisexual man, he could face the death penalty upon return.

If an earlier High Court ruling – which deemed indefinite detention unlawful in November – is expanded to cover people who refuse to co-operate with Australian authorities, the Iranian man would be released and more refugees could be freed.

The government has been drafting legislation since Friday to try to pre-empt the court’s April 17 ruling.

‘Non-co-operation with removal processes demonstrates a disregard for Australian laws,’ the memorandum reads.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the coalition received little more than an hour’s notice the Commonwealth intended to introduce the legislation to parliament on Tuesday.

This gives them about 36 hours to pass the legislation if it is to be done before the end of the sitting week – the last before the High Court decision.

‘Perhaps if it was in response to a genuine and urgent crisis that would be OK but this is an extraordinary demand to put on parliament, to put on all of us,’ Senator Paterson said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan also condemned the government’s ‘lack of transparency’ but neither divulged details about the bill, saying it was up to the relevant government ministers to ‘do their jobs’ and unveil the legislation.

Greens leader Adam Bandt slammed the government’s approach as extraordinary.

‘Nothing was put forward that justifies us losing the usual rights that everyone in this parliament has to consider such important legislation,’ he said.

Warringah MP Zali Steggall said she was ‘deeply disappointed’ Labor was trying to rush through laws without giving enough time to seriously consider the implications.

‘Shame, shame on every member of government for supporting … something that is deeply, deeply undemocratic,’ she said.

The government’s response is similar to the fallout from the High Court’s NZYQ case when indefinite detention was ruled illegal.

In the aftermath, about 150 immigrants were released into the community.

While some had serious criminal convictions, including for murder and rape, others faced less serious charges and all of them served their time behind bars before being placed in immigration detention.

Imperial Hospital Sylhet

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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