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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Australia’s refugee population: A statistical snapshot of 2014-15

Statistics published by the Immigration Department reveal that during the 2014–15 financial year 6,002 permanent visas were granted to refugees abroad who had applied to be resettled to Australia, representing a decrease of 500 from the previous year. Though the Department has not revealed the countries from which these refugees have fled, consistent with previous years, Australia continues to honour its commitment to resettle refugees from countries with protracted refugee populations suc... Read more...

‘Politics is the art of the possible’, but is Malcolm Turnbull likely to change the Government’s hard-line approach to asylum seekers?

When Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as Prime Minister in September 2015, some commentators queried whether a change in leadership might prompt a policy shift in the Government’s handling of asylum seekers (including offshore processing and third country settlement). This Flagpost examines Turnbull’s statements in Parliament on some of the key debates surrounding asylum seekers that have occurred since he entered Parliament in 2004 as an MP in the Howard-led Coalition Government, to wh... Read more...

Senate agitates for immigration detention reform

When the apparently uncontroversial Migration and Maritime Powers Amendment Bill (No.1) 2015 was introduced into Parliament in September 2015, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton noted that the Bill would simply strengthen and clarify the legal framework so that the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) would be interpreted consistently with the original policy intention. Though the Minister probably would have been expecting the Opposition to support the omnibus Bill, he may... Read more...

Whistle-blowing under the Border Force Act: Three months on

Despite both major political parties agreeing that the Border Force Bill 2015 (introduced into Parliament in February this year) would be dealt with as non-controversial legislation, since its commencement on 1 July 2015, it has proved to be anything but uncontroversial. Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the Border Force Act (the Act) has proved to be the secrecy provision contained in section 42 of the Act which provides that an ‘entrusted person’ commits an offence if they di... Read more...

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Australia’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis

The escalating Syrian refugee crisis continues to make news headlines around the world and in recent weeks European countries have been gathering to discuss what they can do to assist. Several European countries have committed to increasing resettlement places for Syrian refugees, while Germany has stated that it will process asylum applications from Syrians in Germany rather than returning them for processing to the country in which they first entered the EU, as it is permitted to do under the ... Read more...

Highest levels of global forced displacement on record—World Refugee Day 20 June 2015

On World Refugee Day—celebrated on 20 June every year—the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports on global displacement trends using data collected over the previous calendar year. This time last year the UNHCR reported that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide had exceeded 50 million people for the first time since World War II. This year, in its publication Global Trends 2014, the UNHCR is reporting the highest leve... Read more...

Is Australia pulling its weight when it comes to the resettlement of Syrian refugees?

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR ‘the Syrian situation is the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time. Syrians are now the largest refugee population under UNHCR's mandate’. In fact, the UNHCR estimates there to be close to four million registered refugees who have fled Syria into neighbouring countries. David Miliband, writing in The Washington Post has recently claimed that ‘it is well past time for the United States and other Weste... Read more...

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A very big year: asylum claims in industrialised countries reach a new high in 2014

Data released by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show that 2014 was a big year for asylum seeking, with asylum claims reaching the highest level in over two decades. The UNHCR report Asylum trends 2014: levels and trends in industrialised countries, released on 26 March 2015, provides data on asylum claims lodged in 44 industrialized countries (38 European countries plus the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia). It reveals some signi... Read more...

Minister reports to Parliament on processing arrangements in Nauru and PNG for 2013—14

On 4 December 2014, the last scheduled parliamentary sitting day for the year, a report was tabled in Parliament on the regional processing arrangements for unauthorised maritime arrivals. The Minister’s report covers arrangements made during the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. The statutory obligation to produce such a report comes from section 198AJ of the Migration Act which was inserted by the former Government to give effect to a recommendation of the Senate Legal and Constitution... Read more...

Permanent residency for Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders?

On 25 September 2014, the Government announced that it would be creating a new temporary protection visa, to be known as a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) which would be available to refugees that had arrived by boat prior to the commencement of the regional processing regime announced by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in July 2013. Though the visa criteria are yet to be finalised, the SHEV is expected to be valid for five years and is specifically designed to encourage refugees to move to r... Read more...