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Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Page: 8


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (09:35): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Migration (Validation of Port Appointment) Bill 2018 confirms the validity of the appointment of a proclaimed port in the territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands contained in the Commonwealth of Australia gazette No. GN 3, 23 January 2002 (the Appointment).

The Appointment was gazetted in 2002 by the then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, the Hon. Philip Ruddock MP.

The validity of the Appointment is now being challenged in the Federal Circuit Court and the Federal Court. The Appointment was designed to ensure that illegal maritime arrivals who entered certain waters of the territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, an 'excised offshore place' for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958, would thereby become 'offshore entry persons', now 'unauthorised maritime arrivals', under the act. The Appointment was critical to determining the status of persons as unauthorised maritime arrivals under the act who entered Australia via this proclaimed port between 23 January 2002 and 1 June 2013. In addition, illegal maritime arrivals who became unauthorised maritime arrivals by reason of having entered the proclaimed port at Ashmore and Cartier Islands between 13 August 2012 and 1 June 2013 also became 'fast-track applicants' under the act.

A successful challenge to the Appointment could mean that affected persons did not enter Australia at an excised offshore place and are therefore not unauthorised maritime arrivals under the act. It could also mean that some affected persons are not fast-track applicants under the act.

The bill addresses these risks by confirming the validity of the Appointment to:

ensure that there was a properly proclaimed port at Ashmore and Cartier Islands at all relevant times; and

ensure that things done under the act (such as actions taken or decisions made) which relied directly or indirectly on the terms of the Appointment are valid and effective.

The effect of the bill will simply maintain the status quo for unauthorised maritime arrivals and, where relevant, fast-track applicants, under the act who entered Australia via this proclaimed port between 23 January 2002 and 1 June 2013.

The bill reiterates the government's original intention that the Appointment is, and has always been, valid. However, due to ongoing proceedings which are currently challenging the validity of the Appointment, the bill will not apply to cases where judgement has been delivered by a court before these provisions commence, if:

the validity of the Appointment was at issue in the proceedings; and

the judgement either set aside or declared the Appointment to be invalid.

The government will not hesitate to legislate to protect the integrity of Australia's migration framework and maintain public confidence in our border protection arrangements. The bill does deserve the support of all members in the House and I commend it to the chamber on that basis.

Debate adjourned.