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Inefficient Coalition asylum policy will flood the courts



16 August 2013

The Coalition's new policy on asylum will degrade administrative decision-making, undermine accountability of public power, and leave refugees in a permanent state of psychological and legal limbo, writes Professor Ben Saul.
In an opinion piece co-written with Professor Jane McAdam from UNSW and published in The Age, he asserts that "...it will create enormous and expensive bureaucratic inefficiencies by flooding the courts with claims for judicial review, and forcing immigration officials to remake decisions about refugee status every few years."

"First, the Coalition wants to abolish the Refugee Review Tribunal, the independent body that transparently reviews decisions made by immigration officials about whether people are refugees.

"In contrast to the Immigration Department, the Refugee Review Tribunal has found that the vast majority of asylum seekers coming by boat to Australia are genuine refugees entitled to Australia's protection.

"But rather than questioning the quality of departmental decision-making happening behind closed doors by unseen bureaucrats, the Coalition has decided that it will simply abolish independent merits review so that bad decisions by the Immigration Department cannot be corrected.

"In doing this, the strong message being sent to immigration officials is to keep their recognition rates low.
"When a prospective Immigration Minister's focus is on border control and "stopping the boats", and yet the department he would control is the only entity capable of making decisions about whether or not people are refugees, a potentially serious conflict of interest arises."

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