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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2154

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.08 a.m.) —The short answer is that the government anticipated whether, under the MRA or without the MRA, people will still have rights of judicial review. It is just that, as we all know, those rights would have been reduced had the MRA had an earlier implementation. But to the extent that it has not had that early implementation, we anticipate that the existence of the RRT as an independent appeal body obviates the need, or makes the process much more sustainable against judicial review.

  I do not think it can be said that a lesser number of people would have had review rights under an MRA which applied from September 1994. One can say—and I think Senator Short is aiming to—that the areas of review available to them would have been reduced under this act. We know that; that is part of the legislation. But we do say further that, to the extent that they have not been reduced, one of the objectives of the RRT has always been to ensure that appeals from internal decision making can go there and, by its presence and authority, that body could then be seen by the courts as a body which has independently heard review; as a consequence, judicial review would not open such decisions. What I am saying is that we think there is a mechanism in place to accommodate those areas that otherwise would have been precluded if the MRA had applied earlier, but applied in September 1994.