The Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 – the ‘Lifetime Ban’ Bill – was introduced and passed in the House of Representatives in November 2016. It has been before the Senate since that time;
- The Bill will permanently bar Australian visa applications by anyone transferred to Nauru or Manus Island after 19 July 2013 (the date on which the previous government made offshore transfers mandatory for anyone who arrived in Australia by boat without a visa);
- The Bill would affect 3127 people including:
- The Bill would prevent resettlement in Australia for the people who have been assessed as refugees in PNG (583 people) or Nauru (821 people)
- The Bill would prevent refugee assessment in Australia for people transferred to Australia for medical purposes, many of whom have never been afforded a refugee assessment in PNG or Nauru
- The Bill would enforce family separation in a number of ways, including:
1.Preventing people in PNG or Nauru from being sponsored for a visa by citizen or permanent resident family members already in Australia;
2. Children born in Australia to people from Nauru or PNG would be unable to sponsor their parents for visas in the future;
3. People transferred from Nauru or PNG for medical purposes, most of whom are in ‘community detention’ or on Bridging visas, unable to be sponsored by Australian partners or other family members.
- Finally, the Bill would make invalid pending visa applications by people from Nauru and PNG – including Partner and Humanitarian visa applications made for reunification with family in Australia
THE ‘NEW ZEALAND DEAL’
- The ‘NZ Deal’ refers to a series of public offers made by representatives of the New Zealand government to resettle in New Zealand some people transferred to PNG and Nauru by Australia
- There are no formal details of the NZ Deal
- In 2013 former NZ Prime Minister John Key offered to resettle 300 refugees over 2 years from Nauru and Manus Island, accepting 150 refugees per year within NZ’s existing humanitarian migration intake.
- Current NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has discussed a similar offer with different details: 150 refugees only, with preference given to family units on Nauru
Ban Goes Beyond New Zealand Deal
- There is no direct legal or other link between the Lifetime Ban Bill and the NZ Deal
- The effects of the Lifetime Ban Bill are not confined to people resettled in NZ, or any country other than Australia—it is drafted with reference to all 3,127 people transferred to Manus or Nauru by Australia after July 2013
- Despite this, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office has briefed Fairfax that Cabinet would be “inclined” to accept a variant of the NZ Deal on condition the Lifetime Ban Bill is passed.