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Migration Amendment (Maritime Crew) Visa Bill 2007
Senate committee
Thursday, 29 March 2007
Migration Amendment (Maritime Crew) Visa Bill 2007

CHAIR (Senator Barnett) —Good afternoon. This is a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry into the provisions of the Migration Amendment (Maritime Crew) Bill 2007. The inquiry was referred to the committee by the Senate on 1 March 2007, for report by 20 April 2007. The bill amends the Migration Act 1958 to create a new class of temporary visa, the maritime crew visa. The maritime crew visa will replace special purpose and other visas which are currently granted by the operation of law to foreign crew of non-military ships, foreign crew of ships being imported into Australia, foreign supernumerary crew and the spouses and dependent children accompanying those crew.

The committee has received six admissions for this inquiry. All submissions have been authorised for publication and are available on the committee’s website. I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee.

The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public, but under the Senate’s resolutions witnesses have the right to request to be heard in private session. It is important that witnesses give the committee notice if they intend to ask to give evidence in camera. If a witness objects to answering a question, the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer, a witness may request that the answer be given in camera. Such a request may of course also be made at any other time.

Just before I welcome officers from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, I want to place on the public record my thanks to Senator Marise Payne, who has for nine years been the chair of this committee. This is the first committee hearing in which I am chair, and I will endeavour to do my best to fill the very large shoes which she has left. I thank her profusely on behalf of the committee for her efforts and for the professional and courageous manner in which she has chaired this committee over those nine years. I have said that privately and I want to put it on the public record.

[5.37 pm]