legislation

Sack Minister Dutton

Dear Prime Minister,

Once again the legal process in Australia is disrupted by Minister Dutton. The president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the authority which independently reviews decisions by the Australian Government, has not been replaced since the previous term expired. Worse, most of the tribunal members who oversee refugee and migration decisions and whose contracts are due for renewal have been told that they will not be renewed. Minister Dutton has told 2GB radio 'When you look at some of the judgements that are made ... it’s always interesting to go back to have a look at the appointment of the Labor government of the day'.

Since you still do nothing to control this Minister the President of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona McLeod, once again must defend the independence of the judiciary:

Any suggestion by government that Australian jurists­ are not acting with independence is dangerous and erosive to our justice­ system. It undermines the public perception of the legitimate role of the judiciary and weakens the rule of law.
— Fiona McLeod, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/02/contracts-wont-be-renewed-for-refugee-review-tribunal-members

The Minister's powers are far too great. It was bad enough that Philip Ruddock gained power to overturn AAT decisions back in 1999 and that Scott Morrison gave himself even greater powers to overrule decisions on character grounds. But Minister Dutton now wields unchallengeable authority. I am afraid, not only for migrants and refugees directly within his reach, but for any other group of Australians that Minister Dutton wants to attack. Sack Minister Dutton and remove the special powers of the Immigration Minister.

End offshore detention #240

Dear Prime Minister,

On Thursday afternoon, after writing my letter to you about Omid Masoumali's widow, Pari, I rang Peter Dutton's parliamentary office. I had four brief points to be passed on to Minister Dutton. However the woman who answered the phone, instead of simply taking my message, argued with me over each point. I have briefly summarised the phone call here. My point today is in response to the final things she said to me before she hung up: that since Australia has not been found guilty in a court of law then we are free to continue doing what we like to the detainees on Manus and Nauru.

Prime Minister, is this the basis of Australia's legal system, that we do what we like until we are prosecuted and found guilty? This is not a letter about DIBP. It is a letter about Australia. Can we do anything we like? Can the Australian government take any action it wants to against any person or group?

For the 217th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

The two immigration bills (“visa ban bill”, formally the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 and Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016) currently before Federal parliament are frightening. They give the Immigration Minister even more power to make decisions without government accountability and beyond the review of the courts. He will be able to act for political, personal or corrupt reasons. I am concerned for the suffering that may further be inflicted on immigrants and asylum seekers. I am also afraid that people who wish to use these corruptible flaws in Australia's immigration system for their own purposes will have increased opportunity to do so.