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Record tribunal overturn rate needs explanation.



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Wed, 17th June 2009

RECORD TRIBUNAL OVERTURN RATE NEEDS EXPLANATION

The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Despite Senator Evans ambivalence about whether he should hold power to reverse decisions made by the

Refugee and Migration Review Tribunals, it now appears he has been reversing decisions at rates never seen

before. These reversals typically mean for example, that an asylum seeker found not to be a refugee by the

Refugee Review Tribunal, has that decision over-turned by the minister.

“The rate of decision reversals is extraordinary given Senator Evans originally said he did not want to “play God”.

In February 2008 he also stated: “One of the first things that struck me when I took on this role was what extraordinary powers I had as Minister…Yet Ministerial intervention offers no guarantee of fairness.”

“However, it is now apparent that he is so hooked on use of his intervention powers the Minister has overturned

more than 1,000 decisions of the Tribunals and/or Courts between September 2007 and March 2009. This makes

Minister Evans the most interventionist Minister ever sworn into Federal Parliament.

“For example Liberal Minister Philip Ruddock, overturned decisions at a rate of 3.61%. Labor Ministers Gerry

Hand intervened in 5.8% of cases and Senator Nick Bolkus intervened in 3.53% of cases.

“Senator Evans appears to have intervened in upwards of 25% of cases if information given in Parliament is

correct.

“In the interest of fairness and transparency, it is essential that Minister Evans explain why he has overturned

record levels of decisions by the Migration and Refugee Review Tribunals and the Courts. We need to be

assured these decisions are fair and justifiable and do not represent special treatment for particular sectional

interests.

We also need to know why the Minister has lost confidence in the decision-making work of the Department of

Immigration and Citizenship and the Tribunals which has led him to overturn more than 1,000 of their decisions.

“The Coalition is strongly supportive of the intervention powers available to the Minister for Immigration; however

this record number of interventions suggests the Minister no longer has faith in his bureaucrats, the independent

members of the Tribunals and the courts,” said Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Dr Sharman

Stone.