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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Coalition is demanding extensive amendments to the government’s legislation targeting non-citizens who refuse to co-operate with their removal.

In a dissenting report to the senate inquiry into the legislation, the Coalition says it supports the “policy intent” of the legislation but has “significant concerns about potential unintended consequences”.

The legislation provides people refusing to cooperate in their deportation would face a mandatory year’s jail, with a maximum of five years. Countries refusing to accept involuntary returnees would also face sanctions, with their citizens (with some exceptions) unable to get visas to come to Australia.

The High Court on Friday will bring down its judgement in the case of an Iranian man who has refused to cooperate in his removal. If the Commonwealth lost this case, that could open the way for the release of another cohort of people who are detained, numbering perhaps 170.

The earliest the government could get the legislation through is next week, when parliament resumes for the budget. That’s assuming it can reach a deal with the Coalition. The Greens would not negotiate, declaring the bill “should be rejected in full”. Crossbench committee member David Pocock said the bill had “the potential to criminalise people for exercising their right to judicial review”.

The government had hoped to rush this legislation through in the last sitting, ahead of this High Court decision. But the opposition refused to cooperate.

This latest battle comes as the government struggles to deal with the fallout of the earlier release of about 150 detainees after an earlier High Court decision. One of these is alleged to have taken part in a home invasion in Parth in which an elderly woman was bashed. Many others have been charged with offences.

The report of the inquiry, by the senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, was released on Tuesday.

The government senators in the committee recommend the bill should be passed by the senate. They do say the minister should consider “community impacts when designating a country as a removal concern country”.

In its dissenting report, with 17 recommendations, the Coalition noted the Home Affairs department acknowledged the bill potentially served as a “pull factor for illegal boat arrivals” but said the government hadn’t said how it would adequately mitigate this risk.

It says the bill lacks clarity about who would be caught by it and lacks safeguards, transparency and parliamentary oversight of the ministerial powers it contains.

It points to human rights concerns, particularly relating to children and families.

When dealing with the removal a child the minister must assess whether the directive is in the best interests of the child, the Coalition says.

It says there should be a minimum time for a person to comply, which would allow them to take steps to comply and seek legal advice.

Within seven days of each month, the minister should have to provide a statement to be tabled in parliament on each removal direction, the Coalition says.

It says any declaration of a country as a removal concern country should be subject to a three-year sunset clause.

In declaring a country one of removal concern, the minister should consider factors, including the impact on diaspora groups.

The exemptions from the prohibition on applying for visas should be expanded to include parents of independent children, grandparents, siblings and dependent persons, the Coalition says.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Coalition demands amendments to government’s deportation bill, as crucial High Court judgement set for Friday –