Australian government has again withdrawn the Character Bill that would give discretionary visa refusal or cancellation powers to the minister.
The Australian government has dropped The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021, commonly known as the ‘Character Bill’, sighting the ‘other priorities.’
The bill that introduces amendments to allow for discretionary visa refusal or cancellation where a non-citizen has a conviction for a designated offence punishable by at least two years’ imprisonment has been introduced twice. In September 2019 and October 2021, Labor and the Greens voted against an earlier version of this Bill in the Senate.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says the Morrison Government will continue to pursue these vital changes to cancel the visas of violent and sexual offenders and remove them from Australia.
“Labor continues to be run by the Greens on border protection,” he tweeted.
“Govt has withdrawn Character Bill because of ‘other priorities’. A good outcome. The Bill was poor policy with a zero evidentiary base. Just a political wedge,” said migration expert and former Home Affairs Deputy Secretary Abul Rizvi on Twitter.
“Character provisions are already adequate to deal with those cases. Govt did not provide a single example where current provisions were found not to be adequate. Always a sure sign of a Bill originating in Minister’s Office,” tweeted Mr Rizvi.
The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021 introduces amendments to the Migration Act 1958 “to amend the character test by providing grounds to consider visa cancellation or refusal where a non-citizen has been convicted of offences involving violence against a person, weapons, breaching of an apprehended violence order (or similar) or non-consensual sexual acts; provide that, for an offence involving violence against a person, a person’s conviction for an offence of common assault, or equivalent, will not be taken to be a conviction for a designated offence unless the act constituting the offence causes or substantially contributes to bodily harm to another person, or harm to another person’s mental health, or involves family violence; and make consequential amendments.”