Melissa Parke responds to High Court ruling

Melissa's statement on today's High Court result:

“It was the government’s despicable and rushed amendments to the Migration Act in June last year, which were unfortunately supported by the Opposition, that resulted in today’s High Court win. The High Court made it clear that the applicant would have been successful in arguing that the Commonwealth and the Minister acted beyond their power in detaining her on Nauru, if not for the 2015 amendments which had retrospective effect.

During the limited debate on the Bill, I referred to the numerous inquiries and reports confirming abuse of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru and expressed concern that the extremely broad wording of the Bill and its retrospectivity would appear to validate the detention of asylum seekers and all actions and arrangements in offshore detention centres since August 2012. This has come to pass and the result will be vulnerable families including children potentially being sent back to an extremely unsafe environment, and impunity for perpetrators of abuse.

For the government to claim that its asylum seeker system is constitutionally and legally sound in domestic law may be true in a strict legal sense, but this merely reflects the fact that under the Australian constitution, there is very little protection for human rights and parliament has virtually unlimited powers, as we saw with the High Court decision in Al-Kateb some years ago, which found that someone who is stateless and has committed no crime can still be held indefinitely under the Migration Act.

Australia’s actions are certainly a serious violation of our international legal obligations and are utterly repugnant in a moral sense.”

Melissa Parke MP Member for Fremantle 3 February 2016

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