18 June 2008
Australian immigration cracking down on bad characters
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) deported a record amount of Australian residents this year on "bad character" grounds, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Figures released yesterday show the DIAC deported a record number of Australian residents under the section 501 bad character clause of the Migration Act. The Government report shows 66 people have already been deported from Australia up to May of this financial year.
The financial year of 2002/03 currently holds the record for DIAC deportations, with 79 people sent offshore and stripped of residency or citizen rights. With less than a month to go in this financial year, the 07/08 score is predicted to win hands down.
The Migration Act allows the Government to deport any foreign national with a substantial criminal history or criminal associations, such as convicted paedophiles or drug traffickers. British citizen Raymond Horne, a serial child sex offender, is one of the many being deported this year.
The character test also allows the Immigration Department to deny applications for an Australian visa. According to the Age newspaper, the "bad character" test has been subject to much criticism lately for its vagueness. 250 visas have been refused by the Australia visa programme in the past four years, with 68 visas being rejected this financial year to May. Visa applications can be rejected on the same grounds that a foreign national can deported, under the section 501 bad character clause of the Migration Act.
Susan Harris Rimmer, Acting Executive Director of the Australian Institute, says the character testing system warrants clearer definition for the sake of fairer immigration policies. "The criteria for what makes a non-citizen considered to be of bad character is too wide, too fuzzy, and is not compliant with international human rights standards," she said.
The Australia visa programme currently approves hundreds of thousands of visas for permanent residency and work permits in Australia, including visas to fill the skilled migration and labour shortages and Australia working holiday visas. During July to December last year, DIAC approved 50 100 skilled migration visas alone, according to statistics provided by the Government.