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Migration Bill removing natural justice rights to be pushed through in the dead of night.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Australian Democrats Immigration Spokesperson

27 June 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/336

Migration Bill removing natural justice rights to be pushed through in the dead of night The Australian Democrats have slammed the Government for once again trying to push through in the middle of the night an Immigration Bill that will further narrow people’s rights of appeal.

Democrats’ Immigration spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said there was a major danger that the Opposition could, once again, be supporting the Government in its actions.

The Bill, called the Migration Amendment (Procedural Fairness) Bill, will exclude natural justice as a ground of appeal to the courts on any migration decision.

“There will no longer be any requirement for natural justice to be followed by departmental officials or decision makers at tribunal. Instead, a very restricted code of procedure will take its place,” Senator Bartlett said.

“If this isn’t bad enough, there’s also a very real prospect that future court interpretations of new parts of the Migration Act - pushed through the Senate before the last election - may end up meaning that there will be no right to appeal even if the code of procedure is not followed.

“This legislation will not just affect asylum seekers, even if they are the Government’s target. It will affect any person who has a decision made on a migration matter.

“The Democrats will oppose this Bill and its attempts to eliminate natural justice from migration decisions. We urge the ALP to join us in opposing this unjust Bill,” Senator Bartlett said.

“In the report of the Senate Committee Inquiry and in the House of Representatives debate on this Bill, the Labor Party indicated it would be best to wait until an upcoming critical court decision, relating to this precise issue, was brought down.

“It would be an outrage if the ALP backed down now, and once again supported the Government in the removal of people’s rights in the migration area,” concluded Senator Bartlett.

For interview: Senator Bartlett on 0418 743 789 or (02) 6277 3406