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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4066

Asylum Seekers


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:55): My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis. I refer to the decision of the High Court of 20 June 2014, which found a determination to limit the number of persons who may be granted a protection visa each year made by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection was unlawful. Is it the policy of the Australian government that ministers should make administrative decisions in accordance with the law?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:56): Yes, Senator, it is.


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:56): We would have loved a few of those short answers earlier in the week.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Just ask the question.

Senator O'NEILL: Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to Mr Morrison's statement that the High Court decision was not unexpected and contingencies have been put in place to deal with the next phase. Did the minister for immigration consult with the Attorney-General on these contingencies? And can the Attorney-General outline whether these contingencies, if there were some, will be lawful and comply with the orders of the High Court?




Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:56): All decisions that this government makes will comply with orders of the High Court and all other relevant courts.


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:57): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the immigration minister right when he said following the judgement that the government policy has not changed? How can government policy not change when the High Court says it is unlawful?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:57): My understanding is that the High Court's decision was not directed to the policy itself. There is an important distinction, Senator. Of course, what Mr Morrison said was both right and lawful and consistent with the High Court's decision.