New Zealand Law Society - Australian bill would enable more deportations of non-citizens

Australian bill would enable more deportations of non-citizens

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Australia's House of Representatives is considering a bill which would enable deportation of anyone convicted of designated violence, non-consensual sexual or weapons-related offences punishable by not less than two years' imprisonment.

Introduced on 4 July 2019, the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019 proposes amendments to the Migration Act 1958.

Under existing laws, the Department of Home Affairs must cancel visas when a non-citizen is jailed for at least a year. The new legislation would enable deportation of someone who was convicted of a designated offence but not necessarily jailed.

Deportation decisions would be at the discretion of the Minister or the Minister's delegates within the Department of Home Affairs.

"The purpose of the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019 is to strengthen the current legislative framework in relation to visa refusals and cancellations on character grounds," Australia's Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman, said during the second reading of the bill on 4 July.

"This bill ensures that noncitizens who have been convicted of serious offences, and who pose a risk to the safety of the Australian community, are appropriately considered for visa refusal or cancellation. The bill presents a very clear message to all noncitizens that the Australian community has no tolerance for foreign nationals who have been convicted of such crimes."

Mr Coleman said the decision to refuse or cancel a visa where someone came within the proposed law would need to take account of a wide range of factors. These would include the protection of the Australian community from criminal or other serious conduct, the best interests of minors in Australia; expectations of the Australian community, Australia's international obligations the impact on victims, and the nature and extent of the person's ties to Australia.