Australian Greens dissenting report

The Australian Greens thank everyone who made a written submission to this inquiry.
The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021 (the 2021 bill) is the third draft of this legislation to be tabled over two parliaments. The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019 (the 2019 bill) was tabled earlier in this Parliament, and the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2018 (the 2018 bill) tabled in the previous Parliament.
The 2019 bill was identical to the 2018 bill. The 2021 bill differs slightly from the previous two bills as it includes a minor technical amendment proposed by the government to its 2019 bill (sheet QJ105). This amendment simply tidies up the legislation's definition of a designated offence.
As there is no substantive difference between the 2021 bill and its previous iterations, our dissenting reports to the inquiries conducted by this committee into the 2018 and 2019 bills continue to reflect our concerns with the legislation. These concerns include the:
lack of evidence to support a need for this legislation;
expansion of section 501 powers to include people who have received nonjail sentences and pose no real threat to the Australian community;
move from an individual sentence-based model to an arbitrary penalty model;
retrospectivity of the legislation to capture people who have lived in Australia for many decades, with no recent criminal history;
devastating and irreparable effects on people, families, and communities;
failure to prioritise the rights and welfare of children; and
failure to recognise a person’s time spent in and ties to Australia.
On this last concern, the Australian Greens recommend bringing the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) into line with New Zealand law, which takes in account how long a person has lived in the country. This recommendation would return protections to the Act that until 1998 were provided under section 201, and which the Australian Greens and many stakeholders believe should never have been removed in the first place.


The Australian Greens recommend that the Migration Act 1958 be amended to prevent any non-citizen who has either lived in Australia for more than 10 years, or who arrived in Australia before the age of 10, from having their visa cancelled.
This draconian legislation continues the expansion of the Minister’s powers to arbitrarily detain and deport people who do not constitute a real or significant threat. It continues the ongoing erosion of rights and freedoms in Australia and reinforces the need for a Charter of Rights.


The Australian Greens recommend that the Senate reject the Bill.
Senator Lidia ThorpeSenator Nick McKim
Greens Senator for Victoria Greens Senator for Tasmania

 |  Contents  |