How Larissa Waters 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 Larissa Waters Supporters vote Division outcome

20th Jun 2017, 4:05 PM – Senate Motions - Asylum Seekers - Withdraw from Refugee Convention

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The majority voted against a motion that called for the government to "withdraw from the Refugee Convention immediately", which was introduced by Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi (SA).

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) 20 June 2017 is World Refugee Day,

(ii) the United Nations 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is irretrievably broken,

(iii) people smuggling is a crime and nations must secure their borders, and

(iv) national security must always come before accepting refugees; and

(b) calls upon the Government to:

(i) withdraw from the Refugee Convention immediately; and

(ii) reflect upon incidents of domestic terror and foreign fighters, and the refugee history of those persons, and strengthen national security and immigration policies accordingly.

No No (strong) Not passed by a large majority

14th Feb 2017, 4:13 PM – Senate Motions - Papua New Guinea: Asylum Seekers - Against forced migration

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Nick McKim (Tas), which means the motion failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Papua New Guinea Government has commenced the removal of detainees from the Lombrum Regional Processing Centre for the purpose of forcibly deporting them from Papua New Guinea, and

(ii) advice from Professor Jane McAdam of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, states:

(A) "Papua New Guinea's refugee status determination process is inconsistent with international law in a number of significant respects",

(B) "As United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has noted, the Regulation [Papua New Guinea's Migration Regulation] incorrectly applies the limited exclusion provisions of the Refugee Convention to ordinary criminal matters more properly dealt with under Papua New Guinea criminal law, which could lead to wrongful denial of refugee status", and

8(C) "There is a serious risk that the forcible removal of an asylum seeker from Papua New Guinea may violate international law"; and*

(b) agrees that the Papua New Guinea refugee status determination process is inconsistent with international law, and opposes the forced deportation from Papua New Guinea of people who have sought asylum in Australia.

absent Yes Not passed by a large majority

19th Mar 2015 – Senate Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Agree with bill's main idea

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The majority voted in favour of the main idea of the bill. In parliamentary jargon, they voted in favour of reading the bill for a second time. Now the Senate can discuss the bill in more detail.

What is the bill's main idea?

The purpose of the bill is to make changes, such as:

  • making it so that the asylum seeker has the responsibility to specify all particulars of a protection claim and provide sufficient evidence to substantiate such claims (basically, the onus is on the asylum seeker)
  • 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
  • create grounds to refuse a protection visa application when an applicant provides "bogus" documents to establish their identity or either destroys or discards identity evidence, or has caused that evidence to be destroyed or discarded
  • clarify 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

Read more about the bill's main idea in the bills digest.

No No Passed by a modest majority

4th Dec 2014, 11:55 PM – Senate Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - in Committee - Keep schedule 5 as it is

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The majority agreed that schedule 5 should remain as it is (in parliamentary jargon, they voted that "schedule 5 stand as printed"). This question was put to the Senate after Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced a motion to oppose the schedule.

What is Schedule 5?

This schedule makes changes that may go against some of Australia's international law obligations, particularly in respect to non-refoulement and the definition of a refugee.

Non-refoulement

The non-refoulement obligation stops Australia from sending people to places where their lives or freedoms are threatened. Australia has this obligation 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.

Schedule 5 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.

Refugee definition

Under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is any person who:

'owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.'

Schedule 5 inserts new definitions for some of these requirements, including new definitions of ‘well-founded fear’ and ‘membership of a particular social group other than family’. It also removes several references to the Refugee Convention from the Migration Act.

The bills digest suggests that these changes have been made "at the very least to limit Australia’s obligations under the [Refugee] Convention and curtail the way in which such obligations are interpreted by the judiciary".

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)

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

4th Dec 2014, 9:57 PM – Senate Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - in Committee - Government amendments

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The majority agreed with Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash's amendments to "contribute to the overall integrity of the bill and demonstrate the government's willingness to work with stakeholders to pass this critical legislation" (see Senator Cash's full contribution).

What are the amendments?

The amendments cover several aspects of the bill, including allowing temporary protection visa holders to travel outside Australia in compassionate and compelling circumstances, as determined by the Minister (see the explanatory memorandum).

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 Passed by a small majority

4th Dec 2014, 9:53 PM – Senate Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - in Committee - Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

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The majority agreed to create a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) (read more about the amendments in the explanatory memorandum). The Government proposed this visa after reaching a deal with the Palmer United Party (see ABC News).

What is the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa?

The bills digest explains that the detail of the SHEV will be put into the Migration Regulations after this bill is passed so the bill itself doesn't include much information about the visa. However, the Minister has said that:

'... the SHEV will be a temporary visa available to people from the legacy caseload [that is, asylum seekers who arrived by boat between August 2012 and December 2013 and haven't been transferred to Nauru or Manus Island] who are found to be refugees, as an alternative to a TPV [Temporary Protection Visa], and will be valid for five years. Persons granted a SHEV will be required to live in a ‘designated region’ and encouraged to fill job vacancies in regional areas. ... Visa holders will have the same access to Medicare and social security as TPV holders, but those who can show they have worked in a regional area without accessing income support for three and a half years will be permitted to apply for other onshore visas, such as family and skilled visas (but not permanent protection visas).' (Read more in the bills digest)

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 Passed by a small majority

4th Dec 2014, 8:58 PM – Senate 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 Senate 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

4th Dec 2014, 8:55 PM – Senate Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Process unprocessed claims and release detained children

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The majority disagreed that the government can and should process the 30,000 unprocessed asylum seeker claims immediately and also immediately release all children from immigration detention. This motion was proposed by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert on behalf of Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Background to the motion

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told cross-benchers such as Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir that "if this bill does not pass, the 30,000 people currently awaiting processing will continue to be left in limbo ... [and] the 1,550 people who arrived between 19 July 2013 and the election would be sent to Nauru" (see Senator Muir's contribution). Senator Muir said that, in light of the Minister's comments, he was left with "one of the hardest decisions I have had to face—a choice between a bad option and a worse option" (see his contribution). In the end, he said he would support the bill (that is, take the bad option) (see ABC News for more information).

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there are currently 559 children in Australian-based detention centres and 167 children detained on Nauru. She condemned Minister Morrison for "using the suffering of these children in detention as a disgusting bargaining chip" to pressure cross-benchers like Senator Muir into passing the bill (see her whole contribution). With this motion, the Greens were trying to get the Senate to acknowledge that the Immigration Minister could release these children and process the remaining applications immediately (that is, without waiting for this bill to be passed) and to urge him to do so.

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.

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

4th Dec 2014, 12:15 AM – Senate Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority agreed to pass the bill in the Senate (in parliamentary jargon, they voted in favour of giving the bill a third reading). The bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives for the Members of Parliament to decide whether they agree with the Senators' amendments. If so, the bill will become law.

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

4th Dec 2014, 12:11 AM – Senate Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 - in Committee - Agree with the amended bill

Show detail

The majority agreed with the bill as it has been amended during the Committee stage. This means that the majority want to stop discussing the detail of the bill and now want to vote on whether to pass it in the Senate.

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

25th Nov 2014, 3:49 PM – Senate Motions - Asylum Seekers - Reverse decision not to resettle refugees from Indonesia

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The majority didn't want to challenge the Government's decision to stop resettlement of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) approved refugees from Indonesia after 1 July 2014.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had introduced a motion that asked the Government "to reverse the decision and instead work collaboratively with our neighbours, accelerate refugee processing and increase Australia's intake from the region".

Wording of the motion

That the Senate—

(a) condemns the Government's decision to no longer resettle United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) approved refugees from Indonesia after 1 July 2014;

(b) recognises that there are more than 10,000 asylum seekers and refugees already registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia awaiting resettlement;

(c) calls on the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (Mr Morrison) to heed the requests of Indonesia and urgently meet with his counterparts regarding the Australian Government's decision; and

(d) calls on the Government to reverse the decision and instead work collaboratively with our neighbours, accelerate refugee processing and increase Australia's intake from the region.

Yes Yes Not passed

17th Jul 2014, 2:21 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Migration Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2014 - Disallow

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The majority voted against a motion to disallow Migration Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2014. In other words, they wanted the Regulation to keep having legal force.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who introduced the motion, explained:

The Migration Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2014 includes a number of elements. It is primarily about punishing vulnerable children who have arrived in Australia on their own, some orphaned, without families, and others who have had to leave their family in escaping war, torture and persecution. Those children who are now already in Australia—who have been found to be genuine refugees, who we have acknowledged, after proper assessment, need and deserve Australia's protection—are being punished through this regulation by the government in removing the special criterion which applied to them in being able to be reunited with their families. The regulation applies to children who, as I have said, are already here.

Motion text

That the Migration Amendment (2014 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2014, as contained in Select Legislative Instrument 2014 No. 32 and made under the Migration Act 1958, be disallowed.

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

17th Jul 2014, 12:27 PM – Senate Motions — Asylum Seekers — Against 'on water' screening and transfer practices

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. The motion was:

"That the Senate calls on the Government to cease the current 'on water' screening and transfers of asylum seekers which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said fall well short of Australia's international obligations and could mean that asylum seekers were returned, or refouled, to persecution."

Background to the motion

By "'on water' screening and transfers", Senator Hanson-Young is referring to two recent incidents involving asylum seeker boats intercepted by Australian Customs.

The first involved an asylum seeker boat that carried 41 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, including four Tamils. The boat was intercepted by Australian Customs and their claims for asylum were assessed via teleconference at sea. Only one was found to have a case for seeking asylum, but the Government says they chose to return to Sri Lanka with the others after being told they would be sent to Manus Island or Nauru. All 41 people were transferred to the Sri Lankan navy and are now facing charges in a Sri Lankan Court.(Read more about the 41 people returned to Sri Lanka by Australian Customs here.)

The second incident involved a boat that carried 153 asylum seekers, including young children. The boat was also intercepted by Australian Customs but a High Court interim injunction blocked them from transferring the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.(Read more about the High Court interim injunction here. ) The Government has undertaken to give three days' notice before returning the asylum seekers. Currently, the 153 asylum seekers are aboard a Customs vessel in an unknown location and it is unclear whether they will stay there until their case can proceed through the High Court.(Read more about the standoff in the High Court here.)

Australia's international protection obligations include the principle of non-refoulement, which ABC News explained as "UN-speak for not turning away a refugee without a fair hearing, a key tenet of the 1951 Refugee Convention".(Read the whole ABC News article here.)

Yes Yes Not passed by a small majority

14th Jul 2014, 3:59 PM – Senate Motions — Asylum Seekers — Against 'on water' screening and transfer practices

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The same number of senators voted in favour and against part (b) of a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. This means that the motion was unsuccessful as a majority was not reached. The motion was:

That the Senate-

[...]

(b) calls on the Government to cease the current 'on water' screening and transfer practices which fall short of Australia's international protection obligations.

This is the second part of Senator Hanson-Young's motion. The first part, part (a), was voted on previously.(See the division on part (a) here. )

Background to the motion

By "'on water' screening and transfer practices", Senator Hanson-Young is referring to two recent incidents involving asylum seeker boats intercepted by Australian Customs.

The first involved an asylum seeker boat that carried 41 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, including four Tamils. The boat was intercepted by Australian Customs and their claims for asylum were assessed via teleconference at sea. Only one was found to have a case for seeking asylum, but the Government says they chose to return to Sri Lanka with the others after being told they would be sent to Manus Island or Nauru. All 41 people were transferred to the Sri Lankan navy and are now facing charges in a Sri Lankan Court.(Read more about the 41 people returned to Sri Lanka by Australian Customs here.)

The second incident involved a boat that carried 153 asylum seekers, including young children. The boat was also intercepted by Australian Customs but a High Court interim injunction blocked them from transferring the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.(Read more about the High Court interim injunction here. ) The Government has undertaken to give three days' notice before returning the asylum seekers. Currently, the 153 asylum seekers are aboard a Customs vessel in an unknown location and it is unclear whether they will stay there until their case can proceed through the High Court.(Read more about the standoff in the High Court here. )

Australia's international protection obligations include the principle of non-refoulement, which ABC News explained as "UN-speak for not turning away a refugee without a fair hearing, a key tenet of the 1951 Refugee Convention".(Read the whole ABC News article here.)

Yes Yes Not passed

6th Feb 2013, 6:32 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Migration Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 5) - Disallow

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The majority voted against Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's motion to disallow the Migration Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 5). In other words, they voted against getting rid of that Regulation so that it was no longer law.

Senator Hanson-Young explains that this Regulation:

amends the migration regulation so that any person who arrives by boat cannot seek family reunion under the Special Humanitarian Program.

She gives several reasons for why she wanted this Regulation disallowed.

Motion text

That the Migration Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 5), as contained in Select Legislative Instrument 2012 No. 230 and made under the Migration Act 1958, be disallowed.

Yes Yes Not passed by a modest majority

28th Nov 2012, 3:53 PM – Senate Motions - Asylum Seekers - Right to work

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. The motion was "That the Senate calls on the Government to give asylum seekers and refugees the legal right to work."

Because the majority voted against the motion, it was unsuccessful.

Background to the motion

Four days before this division took place, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ('UNHCR') criticised the federal government for denying refugees on its new bridging visas.(Read more about the UNHCR's criticisms here. )

Article 17 of the Refugee Convention, which Australia has signed and ratified, states that "Contracting States shall accord to refugees lawfully staying in their territory the most favourable treatment accorded to nationals of a foreign country in the same circumstances, as regards the right to engage in wage-earning employment."(You can read Article 17 here. ) This means that Australia is arguably breaching the Convention by preventing refugees and asylum seekers the right to work.(Read more about Australia's breach of the Refugee Convention in respect of the right to work on Crikey here.)

References

Yes Yes Not passed by a large majority

16th Aug 2012, 8:31 PM – Senate Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012 - In Committee - Protection and welfare arrangements

Show detail

The majority voted against an amendment proposed by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

This amendment would require that the Immigration Minister consider the Australian national interest and obligations under international law. Additionally, this amendment would require that asylum seekers will:

  • be treated in a manner consistent with human rights standards under international law
  • have appropriate accommodation
  • have access to appropriate physical and mental health services
  • have access to educational and vocational training programs
  • be provided with assistance in preparing any asylum claim or visa application
  • be able to appeal asylum claim or visa application decisions

This amendment would also require that the protection and welfare arrangements in place in the processing country are monitored by a body consisting of representatives of Australia and the country.

Someone who votes aye for this amendment supports these measures. The majority voted no to this amendment, so it was unsuccessful.

Background to the bill

This bill was originally introduced in the House of Representatives as the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011. It was drafted in response to the High Court's judgement 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 for assessment of their claims to be refugees. The bill also replaces discretionary detention with mandatory detention for all asylum seekers at an offshore place, such as Christmas Island, and alters 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 by overriding the guardianship obligations under that Act.

References

Yes Yes (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

28th Jun 2012, 5:05 PM – Senate Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012 - Second Reading - Greens Amendment

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Christine Milne.

Among other things, the amendments would have increased Australia's refugee intake, increased funding to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and call for Australia to enter discussions with Indonesia relating to refugees.

Someone who votes aye in this division supports these amendments. The majority voted no in this amendment so it was unsuccessful.

Background to 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

Yes Yes Not passed by a large majority

11th Oct 2011 – Senate Motions - Asylum Seekers - International refugee obligations

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a)   notes the current dismal state of debate on asylum seeker policy in Australia with:

(i)   the Prime Minister ( Ms Gillard) calling the Leader of the Opposition ( Mr Abbott) hypocritical, and

(ii)   the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Abbott) calling the Prime Minister (Ms Gillard) hypocritical; and

(b)   calls for Australia's international refugee obligations to be respected.(Australia's international refugee obligations stem from refugee law and specifically the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees ('Refugees Convention') and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees ('Refugees Protocol').)

References

Yes Yes Not passed by a modest majority

How "voted very strongly 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 6 300 300
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 14 140 140
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 441 442

*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 = 441 / 442 = 100%.

And then