Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Australia's controversial plan for "lifetime ban" on illegal asylum seekers may fail

The Australian government's controversial plan to hand down lifetime bans to all illegal asylum seekers seems set to fail, after crossbench Senators on Tuesday reaffirmed they would not support the bill in its current form.

Despite passing the House of Representatives earlier this month, the government's bill is set to find itself dead in the water unless Immigration Minister Peter Dutton makes a number of key amendments to please the crossbench.

Having crossbench support is a key for the government to pass the bill as it does not have a Senate majority in its own right, but the plan has come under fire from a number of independents.

Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) leader Nick Xenophon has described it as "vexed morally", while speaking to the press on Tuesday, while independent Derryn Hinch labeled a lifetime ban as "ridiculous."

"I'm hoping the government can come up with some sort of amendment because a lifetime ban is ridiculous," Hinch told the press.

  • "You can't say to some poor guy who has gone to live in Spain or Belgium (after being denied entry to Australia) that he can't even come back on a tourist visa. I don't like it." 

Late on Monday, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm said he would not support the bill in its current form, as it was "unreasonable."

"If they leave that country and arrive in Australia with nothing in between... then we think the lifetime ban is unreasonable in those instances," Leyonhjelm said.

The bill is expected to be debated in the Senate next week before Parliament goes on break until the New Year, and the government remains confident that it can have constructive discussions with the crossbenchers in order to pass the bill in some form prior to the break.

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