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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 82

Senator GREIG (6:02 PM) —The Australian Democrats oppose schedule 1 in the following terms:

(2)    Schedule 1, item 47, page 13 (lines 29 and 30), TO BE OPPOSED.

The purpose of our opposition is to reject a proposed change to the Migration Act contained in item 226 of the bill. Item 226 will remove the existing requirement for the tribunal to be constituted by one member alone when conducting a review under section 500(5) of the Migration Act. This section deals with the review of decisions such as a ministerial order to deport a noncitizen convicted of a crime, the refusal of a visa on character grounds and the refusal of a protection visa in specific circumstances. These are hardly insignificant matters and, as PIAC argued before the committee, require serious consideration from a highly skilled adjudicator. Accordingly, we Democrats concur with PIAC’s view that these matters should be determined by a presidential member of the AAT.

Moreover, we are concerned with the quite convoluted nature of the new provision proposed by the government. The proposed replacement of section 500(5) sets out a whole range of broad and ambiguous considerations which the president must have regard to in determining how the tribunal should be constituted for a review under this section. The Democrats are concerned that the lack of clarity associated with the new provision is likely to generate confusion and delay. For both these reasons we believe that the current requirement for the tribunal to be constituted by one member alone should be retained.