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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 14832

Mr RIPOLL (12:36 PM) —I am pleased to be speaking on the 2003 Review of Migration Regulation 4.31B. Three recommendations have come out of the committee. Firstly, we have recommended that migration regulation 4.31B remain in operation subject to a further two-year sunset clause to commence on 1 July 2003 and that its operation be reviewed again by this committee in 2005. Secondly, we have recommended that the fee applied under the regulation be raised to $1,400 from $1,000, which is in line with the fee levied for an application for review by the Migration Review Tribunal. Finally, the committee have recommended that additional resources be made available to the Refugee Review Tribunal to provide for the more expeditious hearing and finalisation of cases coming before it.

I think these three recommendations are valid and warranted under the circumstances. I understand that there are some people who believe that it would be easier to just waive the fee. The task that we put forward to DIMIA was to come back to us at this review period with further evidence and statistical data which could give us, the committee, some guidance on how we should deal with this fee. Of particular concern to the committee was that the fee should be a deterrent to those who would make false claims, or non bona fide claims, but certainly not be a deterrent to, or in some way impede applications made by, people who are bona fide. I think that this can be achieved and is being achieved by what is currently in place. It is important to note, too, what the fee does in operation. If somebody does apply for a review under the RRT, they have to pay the fee within seven days. If they choose not to pay the fee, they then owe the Commonwealth a debt and are subsequently listed, if they do not pay that debt, on the MAL system, the movement alert list. I think that is quite important to note.

There were a number of responses: nine submissions were taken by the committee. Three supported the retention of the fee; the others were against the retention of the fee. Two of the submissions proposed modifications. For each of those we looked at the merits of what was put before us and came to our conclusions. The conclusions of our committee were that, while we disagreed with some of the submissions and some of the evidence that was put before us, we also felt that there was enough weight of evidence that the fee should remain in place.

I could not speak on this issue without at least noting that in any system some abuse is always going to exist. I just want to put on the record that Amnesty concurred with this, stating that, like asylum determination systems everywhere else, Australia's was subject to a certain level of abuse and there were some non-genuine applicants. This is not to say that the vast majority are not genuine but that there need to be some mechanisms put in place that can deal with those who would be non bona fide.

The biggest issue for me personally—and, I believe, for the committee as a whole—was the issue of expeditious processing. This is probably the most critical part. People should not stay within the system for extended periods of time going for review purely to try to remain in Australia when they know they are not entitled to. Currently, the RRT is comprised of about 40 full-time officers and about 25 part-time officers. Between them, they finalised in 2001-02 nearly 6,000 cases. (Time expired)

Ms GAMBARO (Petrie) (12.40 p.m.)—I move:

That the House take note of the report.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted.

The SPEAKER —In accordance with standing order 102B, the debate is adjourned. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting, and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is adjourned.