Media Release: Unwilling to Comply, Government Replaces International Law With Its Own Interpretation

September 30, 2014


Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has introduced two new Bills to Parliament that propose to breach Australia’s obligations under international law.

The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 will re-introduce Temporary Protection Visas and redefine established principles of international law to suit the agenda of the Liberal-National Coalition Government.

Provisions in the Bill will create domestic interpretations of refugee law that will enable the Government to ignore its non-refoulement obligations. Non-refoulement, which prohibits a government from returning people to a place they would be persecuted, is the cornerstone of international refugee law.

Temporary Protection Visas are detrimental to the mental health and wellbeing of refugees because of the uncertainty they provide to people in fear of persecution.

The provisions in the Bill also provide that babies, born in Australia, of people who have arrived irregularly by boat will be deemed unauthorised maritime arrivals. These newborns will then be prevented from applying for visas. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights believes that as Australians, we can do better to protect the most vulnerable of human beings.

The government has also introduced a second Bill, titled the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014, which will give the Government greater power to refuse or cancel visas based on character grounds, including cancelling visas of people who have not been convicted of any offence, or have associated with people who have not been convicted of an offence.

Members of Parliament need to be clear that supporting either of these Bills will result in a violation of Australia’s obligations under international law. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights implores all Senators to vote against these Bills.

Media Contact: Claire Hammerton, ALHR Refugee Sub-Committee Coordinator

M: 0422 168 797 E:


ALHR (Australian Lawyers for Human Rights) is a network of Australian lawyers active in practising and promoting awareness of international human rights standards in Australia. ALHR has a national membership of over 2600 people, with active National, State and Territory committees