Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Migration Amendment (Humanitarian Visa Intake) Bill 2014

Bill home page  


Download WordDownload Word


Download PDFDownload PDF

 

 

2013-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migration Amendment (Humanitarian Visa Intake) Bill 2014

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Hanson-Young)

 

 



 

MIGRATION AMENDMENT (HUMANITARIAN VISA INTAKE) BILL 2014

 

Outline

 

The Bill amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) to ensure that the Minister of the day is unable to grant fewer than 20,000 humanitarian visas per financial year.  

 

As it stands the Executive is responsible for determining the migration programme and the total number of visas to be issued under each subclass annually. The purpose of this Bill is to increase the total number of humanitarian visas issued each year by amending the Act to prevent the preclusion of processing or granting a visa at any time in a financial year when fewer than 20,000 humanitarian visas have been granted. The Bill affords greater transparency by requiring the Minister to make quarterly statements to Parliament setting out how many humanitarian visas of each class have been granted.

 

This amendment responds to an urgent humanitarian crisis in the Middle East which has led to millions of people being displaced. Australia has obligations under the Refugee Convention to provide sanctuary to those in need. The best way to do that is by increasing the refugee intake and committing to resettle those in genuine need of protection.

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1 - Short Title

1.       This is a formal provision specifying the short title.

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

2.       The Bill's provisions are to commence the day after it receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Schedules

3.       This clause provides that an Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule, and any other item in a Schedule operates according to its terms.

 

 

Schedule 1 - Migration Act 1958

 

Item 1

 

4.       Item 1 inserts a definition of “humanitarian visa” into the Act. As defined, “humanitarian visa” means: a visa, a criterion (or part of a criterion) for which may be satisfied if a person:

                    i.             is subject to persecution; or

                  ii.             is registered as being of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; or

                iii.             has been determined to be a refugee under the Refugee Convention as amended by the Refugee Protocol.

 

This definition is intended to cover humanitarian visas provided for in the Act, such as protection visas, as well as classes of humanitarian visas prescribed by the regulations.

 

Item 2

 

5.       Section 39 of the Act enables the Minister to limit the number of visas of particular classes that may be granted each financial year. This section also stipulates that if the limit prescribed by the Minister is reached then all undecided applications will be taken not to have been made. Item 2 adds a new subsection which exempts any subclass of humanitarian visa from being subject to the limit if fewer than 20,000 humanitarian visas have been granted in that financial year.

 

Item 3

 

6.       Section 86 of the Act defines the effect of visa limits set under Section 85. Section 86 prevents the granting of visas in the capped class; however it does not mean that applications exceeding the cap are to be refused and does not preclude lodgement of applications, assessments/processing of applications or refusal of visas under other regulatory provisions.

 

Item 3 inserts, after section 86, a new subsection 86A(1) which exempts any class of humanitarian visa from being subject to the cap when fewer than 20,000 humanitarian visas have been granted in the financial year.

 

New subsection 86A(2) requires that each quarter, the Minister must provide each House of the Parliament with an update on the number of humanitarian visas granted under each class or subclass during the previous quarter. This amendment will ensure greater transparency and parliamentary oversight in term of setting the number of humanitarian visa granted each financial year.

 

New subsection 86A(3) specifies the timeframe in which the Minister must provide its quarterly update. Under this amendment the Minister will be required to present the statement within 15 sitting days of that House after the end of the previous quarter.

 



 

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Migration Amendment (Humanitarian Visa Intake) Bill 2014

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview

 

The purpose of this Bill is to increase the total number of humanitarian visas issued each year by amending the Act to prevent the preclusion of processing or granting a visa at any time in a financial year when fewer than 20,000 humanitarian visas have been granted.

 

The Bill affords greater transparency by requiring the Minister to make quarterly statements to Parliament setting out how many humanitarian visas of each class have been granted.

 

Human rights implications

 

This Bill does not negatively engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms. 

 

However, the Bill does positively engage with the rights and freedoms contained in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention and its Protocol.

 

This Bill seeks to increase Australia’s humanitarian intake to ensure that people who are fleeing war, torture and persecution are able to apply for and be granted humanitarian visas if the Minister has granted fewer than 20,000 visas in the specified financial year. Australia has protection obligations which are engaged under the Refugee Convention, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This Bill will ensure that these human rights obligations are upheld by enabling Australia to accept more refugees.

 

Conclusion

 

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any negative human rights issues.

 

Senator Hanson-Young