ALHR Submission: Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2018

December 4, 2018

ALHR has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in relation to the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2018 (the Bill).

The effect of the Bill is to further expand the powers of the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs (the Minister) to refuse to grant visas or to cancel visas by expanding the cohort of non-citizens who are considered for visa refusal or cancellation. Yet, there is little justification or evidence as to why the current legislative framework is inadequate. Given the serious consequences of visa cancellation on the rights of individuals and their families, it is incumbent upon the Government to provide evidence and justification as to why the proposed changes are necessary and proportionate. ALHR is concerned that the Bill lowers the threshold for visa refusal and cancellation in an unjustifiable manner. The Bill undermines the criminal law system’s determinations about the risk a person poses to the community through sentences of imprisonment. The practical consequence of this Bill is that people who have been convicted of an offence, but have not received a sentence of imprisonment, will nevertheless be taken into detention and be subjected to a further decision-making process as to whether they pose a risk to the community.

ALHR also continues to have concerns because the current decision-making framework lacks the procedural safeguards necessary to ensure that Australia complies with its international human rights obligations. Given this lack of safeguards, ALHR advocates for a restriction of the number of people exposed to a risk of human rights violations, while the Bill seeks to do the opposite.

ALHR recommends that the Bill not be passed and should be withdrawn.

Read our full submission here