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Immigration Minister gives more autonomy to tribunals.



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Media Release

The Hon Philip Ruddock, MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

 

Budget 99 MPS 73/99

Tuesday, 11 May 1999

 

IMMIGRATION MINISTER GIVES MORE AUTONOMY TO TRIBUNALS

 

The Minister for Immigration and Muiticultural Affairs today an nounced changes to give more autonomy to the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) and the newly-established Migration Review Tribunal (MRT).

 

The MRT is a new independent organisation to review immigration decisions that will come into being on 1 June 1999. It replaces the two tiers of review currently performed by the Department’s Migration Internal Review Office (MIRO) and the independent Immigration Review Tribunal (IRT).

 

Australia’s other merits review tribunal is the RRT, an independent organisation which provides merits review of departmental decisions to refuse or cancel a Protection Visa.

 

In line with Government priorities, both Tribunals will be prescribed under the Financial Management and Accountability Act to ensure each Tribunal has full responsibility for financial management. Both the RRT and MRT will be prescribed on 1 July 1999.

 

“Another major change will be that the Tribunals will now be required to reconvene to hand-down decisions to applicants and to take further steps to ensure specific correspondence is received by applicants or their representatives.

 

“This is to avoid incidences where applicants have prolonged the process by denying that they received requests for information or documents from the tribunals”

 

Mr Ruddock said continuation of the existing $1,000 fee for failed RRT applications is currently under review by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration.

 

“If the fee were continued it would provide partial cost-recovery and help offset the cost of a limited extension of the Asylum Seekers Assistance Scheme.

 

“The fee only applies to non-bona fide applicants found not to be refugees and only after they have received their RRT decision - refugees do not pay it.

 

“This post-decision fee has had a positive effect in reducing the number of applications from people seeking to misuse the system”

 

Mr Ruddock said the MRT application fee had been set at $1,400, below estimated cost recovery in 1999-2000, but slightly higher than the combined $500 MIRO and $850 IRT fees.

 

This takes into account the increased operating costs of prescribing the MRT under the FMA Act, and the strengthened requirements for decision hand-down and handling of key correspondence.

 

“The bottom line is that we now have two totally independent review tribunals ensuring the continued integrity of Australia’s migration and refugee programs.

 

“These changes should put to rest recent allegations propagated by some about the lack of independence of these tribunals,” said the Minister.

 

Media inquiries

Brad Robinson 02 6277 7860 / 0419 278 715

 

 

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