Immigration Bill improved, but still oppressive

Green Party MP Keith Locke has welcomed improvements in the Immigration Bill, reported back to Parliament today, but says it is still oppressive.

Mr Locke sat on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee for hearings on the Bill. The report includes his minority comments on behalf of the Green Party.

“Too many decisions will be made on information kept secret from those affected,” Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Immigration Spokesperson says.

“Fourteen state agencies, from the Department of Corrections to the Ministry of Fisheries, will now be able to define information as ‘classified’ and not to be seen by the affected person.

“While summaries of secret allegations will generally be available, the agency producing them will be tempted to leave out anything which doesn’t favour its own case.

“Special Advocates can be appointed but will be of limited usefulness to the affected people. They are not even trusted to talk to those they are advocating for, after they have seen any classified information.

“We might be moving closer to a repeat of ‘Dawn Raids’ now immigration officers are to be given the power to enter and search private homes – without warrant – if they think a person subject to a deportation order is there.

“Iranian Christian converts from Islam might also spend longer in jail, under a new provision that length of detention cannot be considered a ‘special circumstance’ in a bail application. The clear intention of the Bill is to make it harder for judges to give bail. Newly arriving asylum seekers could also be worse off, with a provision to extend their possible detention from 72 to 96 hours, before they need to be brought before a Court.

“The Green Party is also concerned about the explicit ‘Big Brother’ provisions for fingerprinting and iris scans, although we do welcome the new monitoring role of the Privacy Commissioner in this area, introduced by the Committee.”