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Tuesday, 30 May 1989
Page: 3038


Senator JENKINS(8.48) —by leave-I move:

(9) Page 17, subclause 6 (1), proposed section 11g, lines 3 to 5, leave out the proposed section, insert the following section:

Cancellation of visas

`` `11g. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the Minister may cancel a valid visa if to do so would be in the public interest.'.''.

(10) Page 17, subclause 6 (1), proposed subsection 11j (1), at end of proposed subsection, add ``and such notice must specify the reasons, including any relevant statistical data for the direction.''.

(13) Page 20, subclause 6 (1), proposed subsection 11r (1), lines 27 and 28, leave out the proposed subsection, insert the following subsection:

`` `(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the Minister may cancel a valid temporary entry permit if to do so would be in the public interest.'.''.

(14) Page 24, subclause 6 (1), proposed subparagraphs 11zd (1) (b) (i) and (c) (i), lines 4 and 8, leave out the proposed subparagraphs.

(15) Page 24, subclause 6 (1), after proposed paragraph 11zd (1) (c), insert the following new paragraph:

`` `(ca) he or she is the brother or sister of an Australian citizen or of the holder of a valid permanent entry permit.'.''.

(16) Page 24, subclause 6 (1), proposed paragraph 11zd (i) (d), line 12, leave out ``he or she is the holder of a valid temporary entry permit and''.

(17) Page 24, subclause 6 (1), after proposed paragraph 11zd (1) (g), add the following new paragraph:

`` `(h) he or she:

(i) is not the holder of a valid temporary entry permit; and

(ii) there are strong compassionate or humanitarian grounds for the grant of a permanent entry permit to the non-citizen; and

(iii) to grant a permanent entry permit would avoid manifest unfairness, injustice and oppression, while not being otherwise inconsistent with the objects of this Act.'.''.

With regard to amendment No. 9, the Government's declared intention is to remove wide and untrammelled discretionary provisions. The legislation gives the Minister absolute discretion to cancel a valid visa. This appears to be counter to the Government's declared intention and opens the way for a Minister to make a decision on political considerations. It is also possibly legally, and definitely morally, questionable because the days when Ministers were empowered to exercise absolute discretion without challenge or scrutiny by the Parliament, have passed. This amendment provides that the Minister must have grounds for cancelling a valid visa and such a decision would become subject to challenge. If the reason that the Minister must give for cancelling a visa is in the public interest, it can be a challengeable matter. I suggest that in those circumstances it should be challengeable. The amendment adds the following words to the legislation:

Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the Minister may cancel a valid visa if to do so would be in the public interest.

I believe that would take away some of the untrammelled discretionary possibilities that the Minister has at present. Amendments 10 and 13 are very similar. Amendment No. 10 adds the proposed subsection:

and such notice must specify the reasons, including any relevant statistical data for the direction.

So amendment No. 10 would require that, if the Minister proposes to stop the processing of applications for any particular class of visas, he or she must give reasons and provide any relevant statistical data to justify giving such a direction. Here again, without such provision, it remains open to a Minister to manipulate the composition of the migration intake, for political or other purposes, by opening or closing the various categories. There again, although our intentions are the same, perhaps we are simply looking at things from a different angle. As I said before, amendment Nos 12 and 13 are very similar to amendments Nos 9 and 10 and I would give similar reasons for their adoption. I will speak to Nos 9 and 10 initially.