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Changes to assist Courts

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Changes to Assist Courts MPS 053/2001

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today said he would be looking at a package of possible legislative changes to the definition of refugee in Australian law to bring it back into line with the obligations originally intended under the refugees convention.

The Minister explained that this could be a possible outcome from the Review of the Refugee Convention being undertaken by his Department.

"Departmental officers, Tribunal members and judges would be required to have regard to the legislative changes in determining whether or not a person is a refugee," the Minister said.

The Minister explained that the courts have become too generous in their interpretation of the Refugees Convention and were widening the scope of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol beyond that originally intended.

"The changes would in no way affect the separation of powers between the courts and Parliament," the Minister said.

"The changes, which would be made by Parliament, would alter aspects of the definition of refugee in Australian law. They would not interfere with judges exercising their judicial responsibilities in reviewing the lawfulness of decisions made in the refugee determination process.

"It is the job of Parliament to make and alter laws, as it has done since Federation, and it is the job of the courts to apply the law as amended."

10 May 2001

Media Contact: Steve Ingram (02) 6277 7860

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