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Plan to deny asylum seekers court reviews ‘illegal’

A FEDERAL opposition plan to deny asylum seekers access to courts to review their claims is “plainly illegal”, law experts say.
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POSITION: Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, right, talks to the media with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in Melbourne yesterday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is proposing to remove the Refugee Review Tribunal and instead, task a single case officer to review failed refugee claims.

“This is our country and we determine who comes here,” he said in Melbourne yesterday, echoing former Coalition prime minister John Howard on asylum seekers in 2001.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke said Mr Abbott was being “mean just for the hell of it”.

“If the only appeals mechanism available because you’ve abolished everything else is the High Court we end up with a legal situation – which no one would wish for – which is where each and every appeal has one place.”

But Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison wanted to get rid of Labor’s “tick and flick” approach to asylum assessments.

The current review system was flawed because 80 per cent of “no decisions” were being overturned, he said.

Under the Coalition plan, people deemed not to be refugees would be removed far quicker than at present.

Asylum seekers would still have access to the High Court but wouldn’t be able to take their cases to tribunals or Federal Court, Mr Morrison said.

But refugee law expert and Australian National University professor Penelope Mathew said denying access to judicial review would fail.

“I do not see the High Court accepting that,” she said.

“This is just recycling punitive policies that actually haven’t achieved the deterrence and it is just plainly illegal.”

Migration law expert Marianne Dickie agreed Australia would not be able to stop cases being reviewed in federal courts.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the “cruel” opposition plan violated international human rights law.

Mr Abbott’s plan would impact the 32,000 asylum seekers who had already reached Australia by boat but were yet to be processed.Under the proposal, they would be processed faster and if found to be genuine refugees, offered temporary protection visas.

Mr Burke said people who got on boats under Labor’s policy did not get Australian visas at all.

“So the only possible reason to make an announcement like they’ve made today is through political desire to look tough and mean just for the hell of it.”

Mr Abbott was confident his government would limit asylum seeker boats to three arrivals a year in its first term.

“I will regard myself as having succeeded very well if we can get back to a situation of having three boats a year,” Mr Abbott said.

AAP

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