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Scott Morrison now seeks sole authority over citizenship decisions

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection, under the authority of Minister Scott Morrison, is in the process of seeking amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 that will give the minister draconian powers over not only asylum seekers, but anyone who has become or wishes to become an Australian citizen.

The Australian Citizenship and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, will give Morrison the power to set aside decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on the character and identity of those applying for citizenship or who have already received it, in a public interest test determined solely by the Minister.

The DIBA submission to a Senate committee argues that an elected member of parliament and minister of the Crown has gained a particular insight into the community’s standards and values. This particular insight therefore qualifies Morrison to overrule AAT decisions. It is the bill’s intention to grant a minister, in this case Morrison, the power to determine an individual’s “good character” or otherwise, regardless of any ruling made by the AAT. Morrison’s decision will be unchallengeable.

The bill also aims to give Morrison the right to determine “fraud” or “misrepresentation” in applications for citizenship. In such instances Morrison can revoke papers regardless of whether or not the individual concerned has been convicted of either offence.

That is, Morrison or the minister concerned has the power to determine “guilt” outside of any criminal proceedings, denying individuals the presumption of innocence.

The notion that anyone has particular insight or is entitled to absolute power because he or she is an MP and minister of the Crown is extremely dangerous. It is confusing the office with the human being who holds it. High office does not automatically endow its holder with integrity or insight. We are all too familiar with “killers in high places who say their prayers out loud” as Leonard Cohen puts it.

Morrison’s ongoing lunges for absolute power must be challenged. This is a liberal democracy. We do not have ministers who overrule the expert opinions of experienced tribunals. We do not have ministers who are above the rule of law and entitled to deprive any human being of the presumption of innocence. We do not have ministers who are answerable to nobody, whose decisions are unchallengeable, and who are allowed to carry out their department’s business in absolute secrecy.

First published on Jennifer’s blog No Place for Sheep.

 

25 comments

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  1. babyjewels10

    This is a very dangerous man. As are those who hand him this power.

  2. Tracie Aylmer

    Thank you. With your article and that of Antony Loewenstein from the Guardian, hopefully the word will get out enough and we can force all opposition to act like actual opposition. We simply CANNOT have this bill implemented into law!

  3. Gregory T

    Will this allow Morrison, the ability to adjudicate Abbott’s dual citizenship?

  4. Kaye Lee

    We should trust Morrison to get it right just as much as we trusted Kevin Andrews to get it right.

    As Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Andrews attracted controversy after he revoked on character grounds the visa of Dr Mohamed Haneef, who had been granted bail on charges of aiding terrorists. After the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped all charges against Haneef, Andrews refused calls to reinstate Haneef’s visa, stating that his personal evidence was still valid. Andrews’ justification of his decision, on the basis that he had a reasonable suspicion that Haneef had associated with suspected terrorists and therefore failed the test of good character that a person must pass to keep a visa, was rejected in the Federal Court, and the revocation of Haneef’s visa was overturned. However in November, e-mails released under the Freedom of Information act appeared to indicate that Andrews’ office had a plan to revoke the visa before the case went to court, in the case that bail was granted.

    Andrews’ 2007 decision to cut Australia’s refugee intake from African nations was branded by some critics as “racist”, and pulling out the race card before the 2007 Australian Federal election. Andrews defended the decision, saying: “Some groups don’t seem to be settling and adjusting into the Australian way of life as quickly as we would hope.” Andrews accused Sudanese refugees of fighting in bars and congregating in parks to drink alcoholic beverages, but did not provide statistics to back up his claims.

  5. Judes

    Gregory.. do you really think Herr Morrisson is going to expose Abbott for the fraud he is ? This minister of immigration is just one in the conga line of power hungry LNP Govt who crave absolute power! He will get everything he desires as talk is cheap, and there will be no action to stop him or others getting the outcome they desire … If the Senate won’t pass their bills, they simply circumvent it and use the ‘back doors’ !
    WHEN will there be a DD ? …. Perhaps when the Fed oppositions and Senate refuse to play their games !

  6. ace

    “The notion that anyone has particular insight or is entitled to absolute power because he or she is an MP and minister of the Crown is extremely dangerous”, particularly when you realise the incompetence and foolish dishonesty of abbotts’ Liberal Liars.

  7. Kaye Lee

    “Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has been accused by a Senate committee of being “selective with the facts” and seeking to unfairly apportion blame to asylum seekers over the Manus Island riots that claimed the life of Reza Barati and injured scores of others.

    Mr Morrison waited three and a half days before correcting statements that the violence occurred outside the offshore processing centre. The report says this in turn sought to blame the asylum seekers for the riotous behaviour.

    But two Coalition Senators on the committee, Senator Linda Reynolds and Senator Ian MacDonald, have issued a joint statement, saying the committee’s report is trying to “rewrite history”. They say the Coalition was left with no option but to fix Labor’s “political problem”.”

    So it was Labor’s fault, or the asylum seekers fault, or the PNG locals fault. Ok. And you are fixing it by holding children as hostage and selling refugees to corrupt officials for tens of millions of dollars. You are no longer taking people who come by boat to Indonesia even if they register with the UNHCR there. In effect, you want them all to stay at home and you will arm their persecuters to help keep them there. And innocent people who have been indefinitely detained in hell holes should just shut up as should all those bleeding heart human rights advocates. Don’t they realise this is about fulfilling a slogan?

  8. David

    I wouldn’t be surprised he did a runner from his job working for the NZ Tory Tourism and Sport Minister McCully in late 1990’s for same reason. Had too much to say, too much grasping for power and a couple of scandals thrown in. he suddenly packed up and took off.
    This dirt bag was no Saint back then The final para in this report is all revealing.
    Thanks to Ærchies Archive – Digital Detritus for the following

    1998-2000 The New Zealand Jaunt

    In 1998 -2000 Scott Morrison went to New Zealand to run the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport answering directly to Tourism Minister, Murray McCully. He became known as Murray’s Rottweiler in a battle between the Minister and the Tourism Board. When the dust settled the casualties included the Board’s chairman and chief executive, as well as McCully himself. A Wellington newspaper reported that in the ensuring inquiry, Morrison emerged as “a cross between Rasputin and Crocodile Dundee.”

    From NZ Hansard in a debate on a matter of public importance. McCully read into the debate, – On Morning Report on Wednesday, 10 February Helen Clark said: “I mean we are talking hush money here. We are talking allegations that people, when they left the board, had their silence bought because Mr McCully found it too serious for them to be speaking freely.” On Television One that night, she continued: “What we need to know is what were they being paid to keep quiet about.” Leaving aside the defamatory character of those statements, clearly this was an allegation of corruption—an assertion that I had acted improperly and then procured payments to be made to some individuals to buy their silence.”

    Later in the debate, Helen Clark said, “We now have a report from the Controller and Auditor-General that outlines what happened through that process. We have received this afternoon a press release from the Tourism Board. That press release states quite clearly, as is stated in the report, that Mr Mogridge and Mr Wall had done nothing wrong, hence the Minister’s inability to shift them from their positions. Because they had done nothing wrong he had to come up with some scheme to get rid of them, to sideline them, and to put in place his bunch of cronies, led by Scott Morrison of the Office of Tourism and Sport, to manage the Tourism Board funding—the $67.5 million of taxpayers’ money that the ACT party is always so keen to demand accountability for. Well, it was keen until today, when it has rolled over in terms of the report of the Controller and Auditor-General; it had been determined to see accountability put in place.”

  9. mars08

    “The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected.”

    The public… if it is aware of what is happening, is kidding itself if it imagines this type of legislation will only impact isolated, weak and disenfranchised minorities.

  10. stephentardrew

    And that is the real danger Mars8.

    Get these bastards into a corner and it will not be long before they modify the meaning and extent of these draconian, dictatorial laws.

    Australia is turning into a nation of self aggrandized dictators.

    What a cuddly pair Morrison and Brandis make while doing all in their power to undermine and usurp government for their own benefit and future expectations of leadership.

  11. Annie B

    Frightening reading ……. implications for all Australians also creeps in here. …..

    It is a very well written article Jennifer.
    …..

    @stephentardrew

    ……….. ” Australia is turning into a nation of self aggrandized dictators. ”

    I am never sure when someone writes the word “Australia” in their posts, as to whether they refer to 23.3 million people who reside in Australia, or the Government of the day who are alleged to be running the country – in every way that should matter.

    So I do have to say – again ……… it is NOT Australia that is turning into a nation of self aggrandized dictators – or anything else that has been aimed at us as a nation of people – living here, doing the best we can – ( with some criminal / violent exceptions ).

    We are a people who made one helluva big mistake in slipping ( just ) this lunatic lot of fascists – the LNP – into power September 2013.

    The only people who are dictating, threatening, self-aggrandising and being thorough mongrels, is this vile elected Government, with one particular Minister who makes Hitler look like a kindergarten teacher.

    Somehow – we MUST STOP this.

    I know it’s an old worn-out saying, but “Where there’s a will – there’s a way “.

  12. mars08

    @stephentardrew…

    For me, the “real danger” is that these changes…. this grab for power, is going on virtually unchallenged by our legal system, and barely noticed by the public.

    Precedent are being set. Standards are being lowered.

    Even after this government is gone (hopefully without doing much more harm) the precedents will remain. Sooner of later another mob will be able to simply pick up where these vile bastards left off. Are are ALREADY on dangerous ground….

  13. Boris47

    Concentration of power in the extreme ….. Very dangerous …..

  14. Pingback: Morrison now seeks sole authority over citizens...

  15. kanga

    one step closer to communism….if this mob of lying, power hungry bastards stay in, that’s where we are going to end up down the track

  16. Daryl Marshman

    under these rules, the next immigration minister will be able to rescind Tony Abbott citizenship, there are many of us that would love to see that

  17. stephentardrew

    Mars8:

    Totally agree this is really serious stuff. It takes one devious fool to turn these laws against the majority of Australians and with a militarized police force to boot.

    Where are the high court challenges?

    You would think that academics interested in law reform would be leading the charge but where are they?

    Running away from Poncy boy I would think.

  18. mars08

    @stephentardrew…

    The aggressive, short-sighted stupidity of those who support draconian and unjust laws is astounding!

    Do they imagine that THEIR boys and girls will always be in power? Do they think that THEIR side of politics will rule in perpetuity? Do they accept that a precedent applies to everyone?

    We are still a democracy (of sorts). Don’t they realise that governments can change? Even if they are foolish enough to believe that THEIR politicians can always be trusted with extreme power, how do they feel about those powers being wielded by those of a different ideology? It’s not rare to read comments by those who believe that the ALP is a bunch of “socialists” or “commies”. Have those idiots considered what would happen if a Labor government’s ministers had extreme powers… without accountability?

  19. Gregory T

    Don’t worry all, I’m sure it will all become an operational matter.

  20. terrytellsthetruth

    Good article clear and succinct. Worrying developments.

  21. mars08

    Sadly… as far as many (most?) Australians are concerned the asylum-seeker “issue” has been fixed. Boats are no longer (as far as we know) reaching Australian shores, and the MSM has stopped screeching about illegal arrivals threatening our way of life.

    From what I can see, that’s the end of the story as far as the electorate and politicians are concerned. The ruling class invented an “issue” to frighten the public, and now they have finally created a solution. What politician would be foolish enough to question such a success story?

  22. Annie B

    mars08 ……….

    It may be the end of it as far as the MSM is concerned – they don’t give a tuppenny stuff – unless it leads to headlines. ………. and it won’t unless something absolutely ghastly happens.

    Success story ? ( I know you are being sarcastic and I agree ) ……….

    The ‘secrecy’ situation covers all of this situation – and we will never know – nor will the MSM ….. because that’s the way the ultra evil Minister for Boats, wants it.

    I haven’t a clue how ……. to get rid of this excuse for a human being, parading as ‘king of all’, especially to do with refugees and their status – which currently is crappy and cruel to say the least. ….. Not to mention his projected ‘take-over’ of other portfolios in the Government.

    One can only hope the Government – such as it is – is able ‘somehow’ to stop this creature.

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