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Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Page: 40

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (3:00 PM) —Senator Greig asked me a question the other day in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act. I have further information for him which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows—

Senator Greig asked:

Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is it not the case that the fact that the family had not sought a bridging visa had nothing to do with why their application was rejected? More importantly, given that the Australian government recently co-sponsored a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the development of a convention on the rights of people with disabilities, is the minister concerned that Australia's apparently discriminatory immigration policy may place Australia in breach of current and perhaps future international human rights obligations in this regard?


Australia's immigration laws are consistent with Australia's international human rights obligations.

Section 52 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) exempts decisions under the Migration Act and its regulations from the effects and operation of the DDA. The exemption has had long term and bipartisan support to enable the operation of health criteria as part of visa and entry requirements.

Immigration laws do not stop persons with disabilities from being granted visas. People with disabilities can and do migrate to Australia and Australia values their contribution. However the processes operate so that persons who are assessed as likely to impose significant impact on the community may be refused a visa, as Australia has stringent health criteria for people seeking to enter Australia, particularly on a permanent basis.

The health criteria work to protect Australia not only from diseases that present a communicable public health risk such as tuberculosis but also to limit entry of persons who are likely to require expensive, long term or scarce health and welfare resources into the future.