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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 574

Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (10:25): I thank all senators for their contribution to the debate on the Migration Amendment (Character Cancellation Consequential Provisions) Bill 2016, and in particular I thank the opposition for their comments and their support of this particular piece of legislation. It is important to note that the measures in this bill have previously been reviewed by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. I note that the committee recommended that the bill be passed subject to the explanatory memorandum being amended to further clarify the operation of the retrospective provisions of the bill, and I am pleased to advise the chamber that this has been done.

A key amendment made by the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Act was the introduction of mandatory visa cancellation for noncitizens in jail serving a full-time custodial sentence of imprisonment and who have been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment or have been found guilty of sexually-based offences involving a child. The vast majority of noncitizens who have had their visas cancelled under the mandatory cancellation powers are repeat offenders with multiple criminal convictions in Australia or serious or violent offenders. The amendments to the bill the Senate is currently debating are important consequential amendments that will ensure that the character and cancellation provisions in the Migration Act operate effectively as intended following amendments made in December 2014 by the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Act 2014.

The government will not be supporting the second reading amendment moved by Senator McKim on behalf of the Australian Greens. There is no need for this amendment. There are already robust arrangements in place to prevent a person of character concern from travelling to and entering Australia. Every person wishing to travel to and enter Australia must hold a visa. There are special visa arrangements in place for certain categories of people, such as guests of government and members of the royal family, and this includes heads of state and foreign dignitaries. I commend the bill to the Senate.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is that the second reading amendment moved by Senator McKim be agreed to.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is that the bill now be read a second time.