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20 years on and still no decision on intervention powers.

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Thu, 29th January 2009

20 YEARS ON AND STILL NO DECISION ON INTERVENTION POWERS The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

The 30th of January marks the first year anniversary of the submission of the report on ministerial discretionary powers to Senator Evans,” Dr Sharman Stone, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship said.

“One year on there has been no response to this review commissioned to be undertaken by Ms Elizabeth Proust. The Minister’s request for the review followed on his concerns about taking on the full ministerial powers that have been part of the Minister for Immigration since 1989.

“Immigration law in Australia has long had the Minister as a critical part of the review process. For those rejected in their bids for residency in our country can after a rejection of their application by the Department of Immigration, can appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal or Refugee Review Tribunal. If unsuccessful, applicants have been able to make a direct appeal for ministerial intervention. Following this appeal they may have far more recourse to the courts.

“The problem is that there are now hundreds of cases stacked on the minister’s desk over the year of his indecision about the use of these powers,” Sharman Stone said.

“There have been the well published cases of the skilled migrants with children with Downs Syndrome who through the sheer weight of media publicity have obtained the attention of the Minister for a decision.

“However, for all those anonymous men and women whose lives are on hold awaiting a decision, this is a fairly distressing and unsatisfactory situation.

“If the Minister is determined to not exercise the powers of his portfolio, the powers embedded in the Migration Act, he must urgently restructure the appeals process so that the log jam on his desk can be removed, Dr Stone said.

“Alternatively on behalf of the Coalition I appeal to the Minister to consider the fact that regulation and legislation cannot in every case cover all the intricacies and complexities of life’s circumstances.

“The ministerial discretion was always considered to be more appropriate than leaving, literally life changing decisions, to unrepresentative bureaucrats who are not required to account to the public for their action.

“While Mr Ruddock was Minister for seven years, he exercised his discretion on 2523 occasions. These discretionary powers are no doubt difficult to apply, but it’s simply part of the job of a very complex portfolio engaged with human individuals and families in great need.

“I urge Minister Evans to make a decision on his under use of his ministerial interventionary powers under the act, and I strongly urge him to in fact continue to exercise his discretion in the name of justice for all,” Sharman Stone said.

Page 1 of 1 20 years on and still no decision on Intervention Powers