Migration Amendment (Tabling Notice of Certain Character Decisions) Bill 2021

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) (09:33): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) to provide that if the minister makes certain character decisions under subsection 501(3) of the Migration Act in relation to a person, then the minister must cause notice of the making of the decision to be laid before each house of the parliament within 15 sitting days of that house after the day the decision was made.

Decisions made under subsection 501(3) of the Migration Act are those decisions to refuse to grant a visa or to cancel a visa on character grounds that the minister makes personally, without notice to the applicant or visa holder, where the minister considers the refusal or cancellation to be in the national interest.

Requiring notice of the making of certain character decisions under subsection 501(3) of the act to be tabled before each house of parliament will provide greater transparency in relation to the decision to refuse or cancel a person's visa in the national interest on character grounds. Usual tabling practices will be followed, including to ensure that personal information is not published.

This requirement will not apply where the decision was made on the basis the minister reasonably suspects the person does not pass the character test because the person:

has a substantial criminal record; or

has been convicted or found guilty of sexually based offences involving a child; or

has been assessed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to be directly or indirectly a risk to security.

This requirement will also not apply where the person was the subject of an adverse security assessment or a qualified security assessment under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 when the decision was made.

All those who support measures to ensure greater transparency and accountability in relation to visa decision-making should support this bill.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

Leave granted for second reading debate to resume at a later hour this day.