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Government report remains buried.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Attorney-General Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Immigration

GOVERNMENT REPORT REMAINS BURIED

The Attorney-General has announced today a new process for dealing with immigration cases, but he still refuses to release the full Migration Litigation Review Report undertaken last year upon which he bases these changes.

The Attorney’s ongoing secrecy creates a concern that the devil will be in the detail of this proposal.

Labor has previously indicated that we are prepared to look at sensible improvements to the processing of immigration cases. Streamlining of migration cases is important, but not at the expense of justice.

Accordingly we will examine the detail of this proposal - and assess if the measures are sensible and balanced.

However, Labor repeats its call for the public release of Migration Litigation Review Report, which has now been with the Attorney-General for 5 months. The need to release this report is more urgent, now the Government is taking further steps in this area.

The parliament and the public are entitled to know if the Government is acting consistently with this Report’s recommendations or not.

Labor has already announced its policy to abolish the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) and replace it with a Refugee Status Determination Tribunal (RSDT), with a legally qualified Chair, and to provide appeals to the Federal Magistrates Court. It appears the Government might be adopting part of Labor’s policy in respect of the Magistrates Court.

Labor will measure the Government’s proposal against our commitment to have a streamlined and fair system for the handling of migration matters.

Labor also supports steps to prevent vexatious and totally unmeritorious claims being lodged by unscrupulous lawyers - but will want to look closely at the terms of these provisions. Labor will want to be satisfied that these provisions will not penalise the vast majority of lawyers who act appropriately in the advice they give, even if a case might ultimately fail.

Contacts: Chris Black (Roxon’s office) on 0417 386 535 Courtney Hoogen (Smith’s office) 0414 364 651 6 May 2004