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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5634

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (17:42): I again refer to the explanatory memorandum. The purpose of the new clause 198AB is to set out what factors the minister must have regard to as part of the national interest—this very point you are making. It also makes clear that the minister may have regard to other factors they consider to be relevant to the national interest, but that they are not bound to do so. Given the country does not need to be a signatory to the refugee convention, the explanatory memorandum states that the minister must have regard to whether it has given assurances to the effect that:

the country will not expel or return a person taken to the country under new section 198AD to another country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and

the country will make an assessment, or permit an assessment to be made, of whether or not a person taken to the country under that section is covered by the definition of refugee in Article 1A of the Refugees Convention as amended by the Refugees Protocol …

I think this clearly satisfies your complaint about the nature of the national interest. In fact, the minister must have regard to these issues relating to the rights of the refugee and the refugee convention.