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Thursday, 25 November 1999
Page: 12731

Mr RUDDOCK (Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) (5:28 PM) —I move:

That the amendment be agreed to.

The amendment we have before us is the amendment that was foreshadowed when we were debating the Border Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 1999 in the House of Representatives. In order to facilitate discussion of the amendment both in the government party rooms and also within the opposition party rooms, it was necessary, to assist in ensuring speedy passage, that the terms of the amendment be considered in another place. They have been. This is the amendment that is intended to prevent forum shopping. I did elaborate, when the matter was before the House, in relation to the government's intention to move this amendment, why it was necessary and the urgency associated with it. I thank the opposition for their cooperation in ensuring that these matters were considered.

The only additional information I want to put before the House is in relation to the proclamation of this legislation. I will be anxious to get the border protection legislation amendments that were amendments to the Migration Act and other legislation proclaimed as quickly as possible so that it can be operative and the benefits to be obtained from it will be available.

In relation to the forum shopping matters, it was not the government's intention that they should operate retrospectively to impact upon people who may have matters presently before the courts and where there is an opportunity now—because of certain steps that have been taken by me—for them to be able to present a refugee application for consideration. This applies particularly to 28 East Timorese. We have given them notice that the application should be lodged as quickly as possible; we have been in discussion with their legal advisers on that matter. I do not intend to proclaim the sections dealing with forum shopping in such a way as to in any way prejudice their capacity to make their claims, as would occur with these amendments operational and impacting adversely on consideration of their claims. For that reason there may be a small delay in the proclamation of the legislation, but it is for that purpose and I wanted the House to be aware of it.