The Committee hearing into the Government’s new anti-refugee legislation is being held today in Canberra. The legislation is called the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006. I’m not sure who an ‘undesignated unauthorised arrival’ might be, but perhaps I’ll be able to find out from the Immigration Department when they appear before us. The Bills Digest produced by the Parliamentary Library which explains the Bill is available by clicking here. The program of witnesses for today’s hearing can be found by clicking here.
Even though people have had only two weeks to prepare submissions, the Committee have received 118 so far. You can access them by clicking here. There are many good useful ones amongst them. The ones from the various legal organisations point out many of the legal problems. The one from the Department is here. This one by historian Klaus Neumann (who I have referred to before) gives a good outline of our country’s less than perfect past in handling West Papuan refugees fleeing danger in Indonesia, and this one by Dr Jen Harrison, who was one of the few people able to visit refugees detained on Nauru, gives some brief but good descriptions of conditions on the island.
This article from Australian Policy Online is also worth reading. It reminds us that there are “nearly 8000 West Papuan refugees and asylum seekers already living in relocation camps in Papua New Guinea, many of whom have been there for more than twenty years.” I think it makes our fear and loathing about 43 look pretty pathetic, to put it politely.
PS If you have broadband, you may be able to listen to the Committee’s proceedings by clicking here and then on the Legal and Constitutional Committee icon.