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Monday, 10 October 2016
Page: 1262

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (12:44): I want to thank the members for their contributions to the debate on the Migration Amendment (Character Cancellation Consequential Provisions) Bill 2016. I would like to start by emphasising to the House that this bill is a technical bill. It will ensure that the character and cancellation provisions of the Migration Act operate effectively and as intended following amendments made in December 2014 by the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Act 2014. It is a bill that does not go beyond the intention of the substantive amendments made by the character act passed by parliament in 2014.

In relation to the substantive amendments made by the 2014 act, the key amendment made by the act was the introduction of mandatory visa cancellation for noncitizens in jail serving a full-time custodial sentence of imprisonment and where that sentence is for at least 12 months, or indeed that they have been guilty of a sexually based offence involving a child. The purpose of these mandatory cancellation amendments was to quickly and effectively capture noncitizens who pose a risk to the Australia community by cancelling their visas and considering their case while they are still serving a term of imprisonment. To date, the vast majority of noncitizens who have had their visa cancelled under the mandatory cancellation power are repeat offenders with multiple criminal convictions in Australia or have committed serious or violent offences. The amendments made by this bill will ensure that the mandatory cancellation related powers introduced by the 2014 act are given their full effect and operate coherently with the existing character cancellation powers in the Migration Act.

These are important consequential amendments required to ensure that noncitizens who pose a risk to the community are dealt with effectively, efficiently and comprehensively. The government has undertaken a considerable amount of work with agencies across the Commonwealth and indeed across the states and territories in relation to individual matters to identify those people who have been in breach of the standard that would be expected by Australians and in many cases we have moved to cancel visas of people who have failed to achieve the character test. It is the case—my judgement, and I think the judgement of many agencies involved in relation to a number of these matters—that we have made the Australian community a safer place, that we have, by cancelling these visas, sent a very clear message to people who would seek to perpetrate crimes against Australians and, in particular, the most vulnerable Australians, including children, that that behaviour is not acceptable and that this government will not tolerate the presence of those people in our society who are here as our guests and who are here on visas and are expected to abide by the Australian law. For those reasons, I commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): The question is that the bill be read a second time.

Question agreed to, Mr Wilkie dissenting.

Bill read a second time.