Shorten’s soft­ened bor­der pol­icy could let in shady char­ac­ters

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - ANNA CALD­WELL

ASY­LUM seek­ers con­victed of mur­der or rape could be al­lowed en­try to Aus­tralia un­der Bill Shorten’s soft­ened bor­der pro­tec­tion pol­icy.

The Satur­day Tele­graph can re­veal new le­gal ad­vice re­ceived yes­ter­day by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shows the bor­der changes pushed by Mr Shorten would not take into ac­count an asy­lum seeker’s char­ac­ter when trans­fers to Aus­tralia were signed off.

One ex­am­ple was that a non-refugee in PNG con­victed of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a lo­cal child would be trans­ferred if two doc­tors be­lieved he should be brought to Aus­tralia for med­i­cal treat­ment or assess­ment. The same would ap­ply to any­one con­victed of mur­der, rape, vi­o­lent as­sault and se­ri­ous drug of­fences, the le­gal ad­vice shows.

The doc­tors could make these rec­om­men­da­tions on the ba­sis of a Skype con­sul­ta­tion, never ac­tu­ally meet­ing the per­son ask­ing to come to Aus­tralia.

The amend­ments to the Mi­gra­tion Act are be­ing pushed by La­bor and the cross­bench.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter David Cole­man told The Satur­day Tele­graph: “Un­der La­bor’s law, a per­son who has been con­victed of se­ri­ous of­fences would have to come to Aus­tralia and there is noth­ing the min­is­ter could do to stop it. For the al­ter­na­tive prime min­is­ter to sup­port this is stag­ger­ing.”

Le­gal ad­vice to the gov­ern­ment says that even if an asy­lum seeker in Nauru was al­ready un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for a crim­i­nal of­fence, the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment would be forced to trans­fer him to Aus­tralia if two doc­tors said he should be brought here for med­i­cal treat­ment or assess­ment. The man could then es­cape prose­cu­tion, and would be able to travel with his fam­ily to Aus­tralia. The changes, which are ex­pected to have enough sup­port to pass the lower house in Fe­bru­ary, would ef­fec­tively mean that even if mul­ti­ple doc­tors re­jected a trans­fer, a refugee could be brought to Aus­tralia with their fam­ily if they found just two medi­cos to sup­port them. The min­is­ter would have to ap­prove the trans­fer within 24 hours, un­less they dis­puted it on med­i­cal grounds or un­less the per­son was a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity un­der the ASIO act.

If the per­son was not found to be a se­cu­rity risk within 24 hours, the trans­fer would be ap­proved.

Mr Shorten (pic­tured) said his sup­port for the changes was not a soft­en­ing of La­bor’s po­si­tion on bor­der pro­tec­tion.

“We will turn back boats where it is safe to do so, we will still keep off­shore pro­cess­ing,” he said. “If Mr Mor­ri­son ar­gues that the only way you have bor­der pro­tec­tion is not to pro­vide timely med­i­cal treat­ment to asy­lum seek­ers on Manus and Nauru, that’s rub­bish.”

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