How Kelvin Thomson voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should implement the international conventions that relate to seeking refuge and protection from torture. These include the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and the non-refoulement provisions of the UN Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Division Kelvin Thomson Supporters vote Division outcome

4th Dec 2014 – Representatives Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - Consideration of Senate Message - Agree with Senate's amendments

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The majority agreed with the amendments made to the bill in the Senate. This means that the bill can now become law because it has been passed by both houses of Parliament in the same form.

Bill's main idea

The bill's main idea is to speed up the management of asylum seekers' claims and support the Government's policies that stop asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat (for example, by intercepting the boats and turning them around). It also re-introduces temporary protection visas "because the Government is of the view that those who arrive by boat without a valid visa should not be rewarded with permanent protection" (see the bills digest)

Human rights issues

Some of the changes made by the bill may go against Australia's international law obligations. Particularly Australia's non-refoulement obligations, which stop Australia from sending people to places where their lives or freedoms are threatened. Australia has these obligations because it signed up to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture.

For example, the bill will insert a provision into the Migration Act 1958 that says that Australia’s non-refoulement obligations are not relevant to removing people who are not citizens and don't have a visa. The bills digest explains that this change would mean courts won't be able to stop the Government from removing people just because it is against Australia’s non-refoulement obligations. In other words, the Government wants to decide how to apply those obligations by itself, without any potential judicial oversight.

For more about which changes may go against these obligations and how, see the bills digest.

Background to the bill

The title of the bill says it is about "resolving the asylum legacy caseload". This refers to the asylum claims made by asylum seekers who arrived by boat without a visa between August 2012 and December 2013 and who have not been sent to be processed on Nauru or Manus Island. The Coalition Government says this caseload of asylum claims is the result of the previous Labor Government's policies.

During the 2013 election campaign, the Coalition said it would address this caseload and the changes made in this bill are part of their effort to do this.

More information on the background to the bill is in the bills digest.

No No (strong) Passed by a small majority

22nd Oct 2014, 5:12 PM – Representatives Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Agree with bill's main idea

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The majority agreed with the bill's main idea (in parliamentary jargon, they voted in favour of giving the bill a second reading). This means that the House of Representatives can now discuss the bill in more detail.

Bill's main idea

The bill's main idea is to speed up the management of asylum seekers' claims and support the Government's policies that stop asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat (for example, by intercepting the boats and turning them around). It also re-introduces temporary protection visas "because the Government is of the view that those who arrive by boat without a valid visa should not be rewarded with permanent protection" (see the bills digest)

Human rights issues

Some of the changes made by the bill may go against Australia's international law obligations. Particularly Australia's non-refoulement obligations, which stop Australia from sending people to places where their lives or freedoms are threatened. Australia has these obligations because it signed up to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture.

For example, the bill will insert a provision into the Migration Act 1958 that says that Australia’s non-refoulement obligations are not relevant to removing people who are not citizens and don't have a visa. The bills digest explains that this change would mean courts won't be able to stop the Government from removing people just because it is against Australia’s non-refoulement obligations. In other words, the Government wants to decide how to apply those obligations by itself, without any potential judicial oversight.

For more about which changes may go against these obligations and how, see the bills digest.

Background to the bill

The title of the bill says it is about "resolving the asylum legacy caseload". This refers to the asylum claims made by asylum seekers who arrived by boat without a visa between August 2012 and December 2013 and who have not been sent to be processed on Nauru or Manus Island. The Coalition Government says this caseload of asylum claims is the result of the previous Labor Government's policies.

During the 2013 election campaign, the Coalition said it would address this caseload and the changes made in this bill are part of their effort to do this.

More information on the background to the bill is in the bills digest.

No No (strong) Passed by a small majority

22nd Sep 2014, 8:45 PM – Representatives Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 - Consideration in Detail - Agree to the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that the bill be agreed to. This means that the majority agree with the bill in its current form and that the House of Representatives can now consider whether to pass it. (Read more about the stages that a bill must pass through to become law here. )

Background to the bill

The bill makes a number of changes to the Migration Act 1958, including:

  • clarifying that it is the applicant and not the Minister who has the responsibility to specify all particulars of a protection claim and to provide sufficient evidence; (A protection claim is a claim for asylum that is made by asylum seekers.)
  • creating grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant refuses or fails to establish their identity, nationality or citizenship, and does not have a reasonable explanation for doing so;
  • creating grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant provides false documents to establish their identity or either destroys or discards identity evidence, or has caused that evidence to be destroyed or discarded;
  • clarifying that a family member of a protection visa holder cannot be granted a protection visa on the basis of being a family member if they apply after the initial visa has been granted;
  • providing that the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) must draw an unfavourable inference with regard to the credibility of claims or evidence that are raised for the first time before it if the review applicant has no reasonable explanation to justify why those claims and evidence were not raised before the primary decision was made by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection; and
  • clarifying Australia’s interpretation of the likelihood of harm and the types of harm necessary to engage Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.

(See the bills digest for more information about these and other changes made by the bill.)

Both the Labor Party and Greens Party have expressed concern about the changes made in this bill. (Read more about the position taken by the opposition in relation to this bill in the bills digest.)

No No Passed by a small majority

22nd Sep 2014, 8:37 PM – Representatives Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 - Consideration in Detail - Complementary protection

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The majority voted against amendments introduced by Labor MP Richard Marles, which means that they were unsuccessful. These amendments would have removed schedule 2 and item 17 of schedule 4 from the bill.

Schedule 2 relates to complementary protection, which comes from the principle of non-refoulement. This principle is drawn from provisions contained in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the UN Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This bill increases the threshold required before Australia's non-refoulement obligations are activated. Previously, there needed to be "a real risk that the non-citizen will suffer significant harm" if they are removed from Australia. Under this bill, it needs to be "more likely than not that the non-citizen will suffer significant harm" if they are removed from Australia". (Read more about complementary protection under the bill in the bills digest. )

Item 17 of schedule 4 relates to oral decisions made by the Refugee Review Tribunal. Currently, the Tribunal can make an oral decision but must also make a written statement within 14 days. This bill provides that if the Tribunal makes an oral decision on review then it can choose to make either a written or an oral statement.

Background to the bill

The bill makes a number of changes to the Migration Act 1958, including:

  • clarifying that it is the applicant and not the Minister who has the responsibility to specify all particulars of a protection claim and to provide sufficient evidence;(A protection claim is a claim for asylum that is made by asylum seekers.)
  • creating grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant refuses or fails to establish their identity, nationality or citizenship, and does not have a reasonable explanation for doing so;
  • creating grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant provides false documents to establish their identity or either destroys or discards identity evidence, or has caused that evidence to be destroyed or discarded;
  • clarifying that a family member of a protection visa holder cannot be granted a protection visa on the basis of being a family member if they apply after the initial visa has been granted;
  • providing that the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) must draw an unfavourable inference with regard to the credibility of claims or evidence that are raised for the first time before it if the review applicant has no reasonable explanation to justify why those claims and evidence were not raised before the primary decision was made by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection; and
  • clarifying Australia’s interpretation of the likelihood of harm and the types of harm necessary to engage Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.

(See the bills digest for more information about these and other changes made by the bill.)

Both the Labor Party and Greens Party have expressed concern about the changes made in this bill. (Read more about the position taken by the opposition in relation to this bill in the bills digest.)

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

22nd Sep 2014, 8:14 PM – Representatives Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that the bill be read for a second time. This means that the majority agree with the main idea of the bill and that it can now be discussed in more detail. (Read more about the stages that a bill must pass through to become law here. )

Background to the bill

The bill makes a number of changes to the Migration Act 1958, including:

  • clarifying that it is the applicant and not the Minister who has the responsibility to specify all particulars of a protection claim and to provide sufficient evidence; (A protection claim is a claim for asylum that is made by asylum seekers.)
  • creating grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant refuses or fails to establish their identity, nationality or citizenship, and does not have a reasonable explanation for doing so;
  • creating grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant provides false documents to establish their identity or either destroys or discards identity evidence, or has caused that evidence to be destroyed or discarded;
  • clarifying that a family member of a protection visa holder cannot be granted a protection visa on the basis of being a family member if they apply after the initial visa has been granted;
  • providing that the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) must draw an unfavourable inference with regard to the credibility of claims or evidence that are raised for the first time before it if the review applicant has no reasonable explanation to justify why those claims and evidence were not raised before the primary decision was made by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection; and
  • clarifying Australia’s interpretation of the likelihood of harm and the types of harm necessary to engage Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.

(See the bills digest for more information about these and other changes made by the bill.)

Both the Labor Party and Greens Party have expressed concern about the changes made in this bill. (Read more about the position taken by the opposition in relation to this bill in the bills digest.)

No No Passed by a small majority

27th Jun 2012, 6:48 PM – Representatives Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012 - Consideration in Detail - Party to Refugees Convention or Protocol

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The majority voted against amendments proposed by MP Scott Morrison.

These amendments specified that an offshore processing country must be party to the Refugees Convention or the Refugees Protocol.(Read more about the Refugees Convention here and about the Refugees Protocol here. )

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced by Independent MP Rob Oakeshott in response to the High Court's decision in Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship () HCA 32, which put an end to the Labor Government's Malaysia Solution policy.(Read more about the decision on Wikipedia here and on ABC News here. Read more about the effect of this decision on the Malaysia Solution here. )

To this end, the bill amends the Migration Act 1958 to replace the existing framework for taking offshore entry persons to another country to assess their refugee claims.(More information about this bill and context can be found here.) It also amends the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 in relation to making and implementing any decision to remove, deport or take a non-citizen child from Australia. However, these amendments would only have effect for a period of 12 months.

By making these amendments, the bill attempts to codify the Bali Process into domestic law.

References

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

How "voted moderately for" is worked out

The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, 0 points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, 0 points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.

Then, the number gets converted to a simple english language phrase based on the range of values it's within.

No of votes Points Out of
Most important votes (50 points)      
MP voted with policy 2 100 100
MP voted against policy 1 0 50
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 3 30 30
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 130 180

*Pressure of other work means MPs or Senators are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.

Agreement score = MP's points / total points = 130 / 180 = 72%.

And then